Location, location, location: mapping out the best way

The use of ordnance survey data to locate specific waste sites, landmarks and routes can not only create greater service efficiency, but generate significant cost savings too

With an increasing drive towards efficiency improvement, local authorities are seeking newer and smarter ways to achieve cost savings. Waste management is a specific area being reviewed by councils across the country. Research commissioned by the Regional Centres of Excellence shows that LAs spend over £2.5B a year on contracts with third parties to collect and dispose of the country's rubbish. This makes waste management the third largest area of local government expenditure after construction and adult social care.

There is increased pressure on LAs to find more effective ways to move towards sustainable waste management, whether it through partnership working, more efficient waste collection services or promoting green waste recycling. There is now an increasing reliance upon understanding geography and how using accurate location-based information can help. Ordnance survey (OS) data, supplied as part of the mapping services agreement (MSA) to LAs, is being used to underpin waste management strategies. This includes improving existing recycling services, siting new recycling centres and optimising waste collection procedures.

Riverside challenge
Take, for example, the Western Riverside Waste Authority (WRWA). The WRWA comprises the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and the London boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Lambeth and Wandsworth, and disposes around 500,000 tonnes of rubbish per year. Most of this is household waste generated by a population of some 850,000 residents and presents obvious logistical challenges.

In 2002 the Recycle Western Riverside (RWR) campaign started as a five year WRWA initiative funded by Cory Environmental through the landfill tax credit scheme. The RWR used location-based information to improve existing green waste recycling services, including kerbside recycling and home composting. A geographical information system (GIS) analysis of green waste data was conducted by the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, underpinned by a mapping system - the OS MasterMap Topography Layer - to identify specific households with private gardens.

Figures from a Defra 2003-4 municipal waste management survey shows that, on average 25% of waste is from people's gardens, so identifying these properties was an important step. The OS MasterMap Topography Layer system could provide detail down to individual building level, proving to be an ideal tool.

Jay Amies, recycling manager for the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, explains: "We used the green waste data and maps resulting from the project to target new residents for our garden waste collection service. From the resulting green waste promotional exercise in the areas concerned, we generated in excess of 600 additional green waste service participants and increased garden waste tonnage collected by 20% compared with 2004-5."

The success of the project has enabled the WRWA London boroughs to better target resources and improve communication between the local authorities and residents, making it as easy as possible to participate in future green waste schemes.

"Key to the research project was the spatial analysis underpinned by OS MasterMap Topography Layer,' adds Dave Yarwood, GIS services manager at the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. "The use of topography layer data has enabled the accurate identification of specific households upon which to focus targeted correspondence and waste management services."

Timing is everything
Elsewhere in the country, councils are realising that a review of current waste collection procedures relies upon accurate and timely location based information about the position of collection points, collection routes, transfer stations and landfill sites. Northamptonshire, for example, has been experiencing a steady growth in population, with an additional 20,000 inhabitants expected in the Daventry district alone over the next 10 years.

To address this growth and as part of wider efficiency saving targets, all seven districts decided to review their waste collection procedures, hiring specialist consultants Integrated-skills and White Young Green to help. Key to their work was the use of GIS and accurate location-based information from Ordnance Survey.

The OS MasterMap Integrated Transport Network Layer, which includes detailed road routing information, has enabled Daventry District Council to rationalise the number of existing waste collection routes from nine to eight, reduce diesel costs by 12%, increase spare capacity by 14% and eliminate overtime.

"In Daventry we've identified savings of over £100 000 in a full year. And savings for the remainder of districts and boroughs are expected," says Jo Gilford, Daventry District Council's corporate manager for open space.

As a result of using location-based information and GIS, there are opportunities for major cost savings across Northamptonshire, including cross-boundary working and single county-wide waste collection operations. OS data is relied upon by waste management professionals across the country and can generate huge cost savings for LAs by reviewing existing waste management procedures and implementing new waste management strategies using location-based information.

Ordnance Survey www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk

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