Streetlights

2015 and still keeping the lights on:

Our turnkey iSlims Work Order Performance Management for Streetlights web software continues to be the work-horse that manages keeping streetlights ON for the District of Columbia since 2005.   Despite budget cuts, the Great Recession and dramatic changes in technology — iSlims was designed to withstand the test of time – by placing the power of information directly into the hands of the customer.

The History behind keeping the Streetlights in DC burning bright:

It was 1997, and Cycon had just written and installed DPW’s first client-server enterprise call center and work order system. The District was broke at the time, and for pennies on the dollar, Cycon had managed to develop a system that tracked citizen complaints ranging from graffiti to potholes, missed trash collection to clean city initiatives. DPW had just begun monitoring and tracking it’s response to citizen calls for services, with automation that had been designed on a dime and worked like a charm.

Fast-forward to 2005. Cycon was tasked to help the Street Light division of the District Department of Public Works with automation. At the time, the Street Light Division had no software tools in place to monitor daily repairs made by it’s contractors. Multiple contractors maintained the 65,000 streetlights in the District. Depending on the location of the streetlight pole, the repairs may have been made by a contractor working for the Federal government on “federal” property. Alternatively, in other parts of the city, repairs were made by a contractor working directly for the District.

The District of Columbia is a different beast from most cities. In some ways, the District operates more at a level similar to federal and state governments. In other ways, the District must rely on it’s own resources to do tasks other cities take for granted.

So, you can imagine the outcry of public opinion, when crime spiked in different pockets of the city due to streetlights being dark. The finger pointing began. What were the repair records? Who failed to repair the streetlights despite the repeated calls for repairs by the citizens of the District?

The management folks at the Street Light division were ahead of their time. They realized that they had 65,000 in street poles and fixtures of citywide assets. They needed to know what poles were affected by group re-lamping projects. They needed to see where wattages were insufficient and needed to be upgraded. They needed to be able to track their assets using GPS positioning. Oh, and yes, they also needed to see how well their contractors were responding to requests for repairs.

The need for performance-based monitoring tools:   On top of it all, DC realized that their contractors needed incentives to perform to higher standards. At the highest standards, the contractors would be rewarded for their efforts – not only in responding quickly to repairs, but also by proactively maintaining streetlights. Should the contractors fall short on their list of incentives, penalties would be assessed. Meet Performance Based management contracting.

Of course, it was one thing to write all of these incentives into a contract, and another to be able to determine if the contractor was meeting, or falling short of it’s performance goals. Typical work order systems would not do the job. These applications did not provide enough detail to match the language of the contracts. Typical work order systems translated calls for service, into work order. If they were GIS-based, you could even see the problem areas easily on a map. Good stuff. But, it would be impossible for the Street Light division to manage it’s contract using traditional work order or call center software, because the reporting was not tied to performance criteria.

Instead, the Street Light division needed to be able to track specific motivational factors as it related to street light repairs – and provide a “report card” to the contractor. They needed to be able to score both the quantity of repairs being made, with the quality of these efforts. They needed to be able to determine if incentives that were documented in the contract as “incentive based” – were truly being met. They needed a birds eye view, with all supporting detail available – to justify each and every action. Bottom line – they needed to make sure that automation judging the of repairs and maintenance of streetlights – was a one-to-one match with the language in the contracts.

The Streetlight Division of the Department of Transportation desperately needed a solution. They needed automation to help oversee their performance based contracting needs. And, they needed it yesterday.

Recycling components from time tested applications.  Instead of re-inventing the wheel, Cycon resurrected the model from our work order management software, gave it a complete makeover so that it would be web-based, and carefully wove in the performance goals from the contract. The new performance based work order system represented the goals set forth in the repair contract. A scorecard for each performance goal was automated. Quick turnaround repair results were rewarded. Sluggish repair results were subject to penalties. The accuracy of data entry was monitored. Random inspection results became part of the big picture. Trends were evaluated over time. Patrol crews were monitored for effectiveness. Material usage and costs were captured.

The city was becoming more energy efficient, and had the documentation to prove it. The field contractor was held responsible to the terms of the contract. All of this became a reality – when Cycon deployed in 2006 the District’s first web performance based work order management software – called iSLIMS.

iSlims continues to monitor contractor performance while keeping the streetlights ON for DC.


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