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back to article Bury council defends iPads for binmen

Bury council has defended its decision to spend £9,000 on iPads for its fleet of refuse trucks, saying the devices will allow it to provide a real time bin collection service. The council has come under severe criticism for purchasing 22 of the touchscreen devices, which retail at around £400 each, just months after unveiling …

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Anonymous Coward

Cor Blimey Guvnor!

Ohhhhhh.....

My old man's a dustman,

He's got a new iPad,

He says the Council's barmy,

And the man who bought it mad.

He looks a proper nana,

As he Wi-Fi's on his rounds,

It's covered in detritus,

What a waste of Council pounds.

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Anonymous Coward

Can we also have some hard facts?

@Bit Fiddler: "What a waste of Council pounds."

First up - great verse, made my day. I almost hummed the tune aloud.

But on a serious note, I can't be so dismissive of equipment purchases. If we always made decisions solely on the basis of the capital cost, we would also send them out to collect waste with wheelbarrows. If this bit of kit saves them a lot of wasted time and miles driving back for missed bins, they might well stand to save money.

I'd like to see some hard figures - it's to easy to be dismissive of council decisions when you don't have the full picture.

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Anonymous Coward

9K huh?

Did anyone consider the alternative of telling their staff to do there job propperly or they will lose it.

If they can do that then they can tell those pesky people who woke up too late to put the bin out on time that its tuff luck, move it yourself or wait for 2 weeks till the next pick up

Im sorry thats a complete waste of money when there is a much simplier solution, you will also need to factor in the time needed for training, tech support, damaged units and finally WHY did they have to go for the most expensive product on the market when a 2003 model PDA would and does do the same job that they would be using it for!!

Insanity.

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WTF?

Is this the reason Apple is selling so many iPads?

I'm sure there were touchscreens before the iPad... How come they were not used before? Too expensive? Too difficult to code for? Or is it simply that people only realized now how useful it was?

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Yes there was.

Yep, there was tablets years before the iPad (Windows XP Tablet Edition, one example of the OS on one), however, they were cubmersome and lumbered with XP, which isn't exactly tablet friendly, even the special version made for it.

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FAIL

This is exactly why Apple sell iPad.

They were told by Apple that it would revolutionise everything people do, including collecting bins. The world is full of idiots that believe everything Apple/Microsoft tell them...

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Anonymous Coward

iPAQ

I know other local authority services that needed real time job updates used to use iPAQ handhelds for this.

An iPad is probably superior in terms of battery life and the larger screen easier to work on and code for - the TCO won't be greatly different, so if it works there's no reason not to buy an Apple just because they are fashionable.

I might be concerned about the robustness perhaps and how well suited they are to people who wear gloves most of the time.

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Re: This is exactly why Apple sell iPad.

Indeed.

This is true - at work we have been tasked with thinking of things you could use an iPad for that are work related. A client wants to buy some, but does not know why.

Also - I travel by train a lot. I see a lot of iPads. Typical use is Angry Birds, then read <newspaper> then put away, get out <laptop of whatever flavour including macbooks> to do work.

On the subject of this, as I recall one of the problems with paper was it got wet. Which is clearly not a problem for delicate electronics, them being well regarded in the waterproof department.

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Re: An iPad is probably superior in terms of battery life

Most vehicles have a big battery continually recharged by the engine, and a cigarette lighter socket you could use to power whatever device you have.

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waste

for a generic app any of crap would do. Even a CE powered touchpad

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FAIL

Re: This is exactly why Apple sell iPad.

Soon, the binmen will be sitting in the cab doing that stupid swipe gesture at the bins through the window and wondering why they don't go and empty themselves at the back of the vehicle. That's the future, people!

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Big Brother

"We need to urgently improve our recycling rates"

Is it me, or does recycling have absolutely nothing to do with this? It's supposedly all about making sure the "Waste Management Officers" or binmen as I like to call them, don't miss anyone's bins.

Suddenly they're talking about landfill costs and recycling. Is the real reason for buying iPads so the little Hitlers in the local council can track who is and isn't doing any recycling?

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FAIL

Well .....

If some lazy, selfish waste of oxygen is putting recyclables in their "residual waste" bin, then the local council not only aren't getting the money that they would have raised by selling them to a recycling merchant, but also they have to pay to bury them in landfill. Meaning, honest people's council tax goes up.

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Thumb Down

pay to bury them in landfill...

Not quite, pay a 'tax' imposed by central government if buried in landfill.

To avoid that, they 'recycle': pay for a long obcure paper trail to disguise the fact that it ends up in a landfill on the other side of the world.

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No

Yes, there is a landfil tax.

But the hole in the ground is usually owned by some faceless company who will charge for that too.

I am afraid councils pay quite a lot for landfill.

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Brilliant

Next person who shows me how amazing it is that their IPad can behave exactly like a computer will be referred to as an IBinPerson.

Shame BuryTC wasted about £7000 on the hardware though.

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Alternatives?

What should they have bought instead? Cheap Advent devices from PC world?

That would be good, bin men parked up by the side of the road running "cyanogenmod" and messing about with the tablet to get it to "do what they want".

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Stop

messing about with the tablet to get it to "do what they want"

Err, isn't that the job of the IT (sorry, ITC, we're dealing with local government after all) dept? (Assuming it hasn't been outsourced to Crapita.)

Every parcels van is now accompanied by a hand-held on which you can sign for delivery. I don't see many of them using iPhones or iPads, instead they prefer something more rugged that will last longer than a week. But then, they have to operate in the commercial world, rather than the rarefied atmosphere of spending other people's money.

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@Giles Jones

No, the alternative is simply not to waste money on iPads for binmen in the first place...

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Well...

Why not some decent little netbooks for less than half the cost? Or they have these things now called mobile phones...

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Anonymous Coward

Imagine you're a dustman driving a large truck.

Then answer your own question.

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Anonymous Coward

@Chris Miller

What you fail to realise though is that parcel delivery companies revolutionised the hand-held device idea. They were the ones to first buy into the idea that immediate tracking up to the point of delivery (including signature) was a good thing to eliminate as many as possible complaints about missed deliveries, delayed deliveries, deliveries to neighbours etc...

With the lowest-spec 3G iPad, Bury Council can not only lock down what gets put onto an iPad (app restrictions mean no App Store, no Angry Birds, and only the apps that they've wanted you to have), but with the right software, are able to push down immediate notifications about missed bins on a route instead of having to wait until, as the moany MP put it, the paper clipboards with the maps return to the depot.

That *does* save money, especially if the 'missed bin' is at the outskirts of the bin depot's region to collect in, and at £1.40/litre *minimum* in diesel cost, it's a good cost saving over a year.

Provided the iPad is installed in a good cradle that protects the device, there's no reason to believe that this is a waste.

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mobile fucking phone maybe??

thats all

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Boffin

@Imagine you're a dustman driving a large truck

... at a speed of about three miles an hour, stopping every fifty feet or so...

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@SP

And all that can only be achieved on a 10" 1024x768 colour screen, right? Even though every logistics operation in the world seems to be of a different opinion.

Let me guess, you work in the public sector, don't you.

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Go

Encouraging recycling...

If you want to encourage recycling and reduce landfill use...

Bring back the old bottle fees, where an extra 10p is added to the price of anything in a bottle, and you get it refunded when you return the bottle. I believe they actually still do this in Holland. Do the same with other types of packaging.

Also when recycling glass bottles, don't smash them up and melt them down... Just clean them and reuse them.

Reduce packaging, especially horrible types of packaging like blister packs, back in the days stuff used to come in biodegradable brown paper bags... There is no need for fancy packaging, its whats inside that counts and if companies are concerned that generic packaging will prevent their product from standing out, then institute a blanket ban so everyone is in the same boat. You can also have promotional material on the shelves rather than the packaging. 99% of my household waste is unnecessary packaging.

Reduce plastic packaging, use paper or card whenever possible... Plastic is mostly only really needed for holding liquids, and then the bottles can be reused as above.

Treat biodegradable waste separately, that can be rotted down.

Have convicts and the long term unemployed sort rubbish according to its type, so it can be more easily recycled. Make working a condition of receiving any benefits, if you don't find a better job this is what you do.

There really isn't a whole lot that needs to go into landfill, most can be recycled or rotted down (i.e. natural recycling)...

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^Agreed. And also..

Many councils propose charging people who don't recycle enough. This is idiotic. It will only get people's backs up and encourage fly tipping, garden fires etc. Instead, increase council tax a bit, then use the extra to offer financial rewards for people who recycle more. See how that works? The same chavs who would be tipping their rubbish on the street or burning toxic plastic etc to avoid charges will now be actively out LOOKING for stuff to put in their recycling. Net cost exactly the same, net result much more recycling.

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spot on Joe

Theres no purer form of recycling than straight up immediate re-use. I shudder to think of the energy and resorces that go into melting down a load of glass bottles to make - glass bottles, when just a rinse out would have done.

Remember that coffee advert recently, where they were all smug that they'd "reduced packaging" ? The advert showed loads of people struggling to carry loose coffee in their pocket, or bra etc , hence the need for packaging . If the stupid bastards just brought a container with them we could have zero packaging!

A similar soluton could be applied top the carrier bag epidemic

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Silver badge

Agreed

Charge a bit less if you bring your own container, perhaps.

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Anonymous Coward

@bob 46

Heh, the cynic in me says that's a bad idea!

Why? It'll start out as you say, then the council will decide they've encouraged enough people, cut the rewards but not readjust the rates. The money will then get blown on something pointless (£9k of iPads perhaps?)

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Alert

Neither the Left or Right will allow Common Sense over Self-Interest

Totally agree. Guaranteed low-paid work is a win for the unemployed who get self-esteem and future employability and a win for everyone else as they get something for their tax.

However The left do not want their well-paid middle-class public sector jobs to be threatened so wont allow it. They would rather deal with the symptoms of mass-unemployment than take a pay-and-perks cut to end it. The right would rather whine on about dole scroungers and benefit cheats than take the obvious next step of no-benefits/guaranteed work.

For those who think you could stop benefits without providing work - the London Riots would seem like a street fete and you would also have to deal with child hunger and epidemics - in other words it cant and wont happen. The private sector cant be coerced into employing people so state work is the only sensible option.

Of course in reality both the frothy headed liberal guardian left and the frothy mouthed right wing daily mailites actually secretly love having an underclass to beat there chests about.

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How can bin collection

be anything but "real time"?

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Coat

Someone with too much time on his hands...

Acutally... real time bin collection would be the bin men coming round just as your bin gets full. The current system of scheduled collection is clearly a batch process.

/The one with the orange patch across the shoulders

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Alien

Revisit

>revealed that there were 4,228 reports of missed bins last year. Costing £40 each to revisit

Wouldn't it be cheaper to tell the complainants that their bin was at a slight angle to the road and in order to prevent injury to the refuse engineer's back from twisting said bin they were unable to collect it. Oh, and by the way, there will be a fine in the next post.

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FAIL

What a coincidence...

A couple of days ago, a chap from the council turned up at my door to fit a new bath. When I reported the fault they said I'd get a call to let me know when they were coming (which never happened). As I was going out I told him he'd have to arange another time.

"No problem!" he says, and whips out an HTC. The next 10 minutes where spent on the door step while he continualy apologised and tried to get a connection to the database. In the end he scribbled some notes on a piece of paper and said he'd update it when he could get a connection.

Apparently, all the workmen had been issued with these phones and they were all cursing about them. "Was better when we had a list" he grumbled.

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Blame Network

See title...

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Anonymous Coward

@morteus

Sorry to be a pain - but you have Council workers fitting your bath? This probably means you're living in a Council house? If so - get a job you lazy bugger and stop spending your time on thereg. If you have a job - get out of that house and start renting you thieving git.

Sorry - but a pet peeve of mine. Council houses should not to be given to everyone - only people in desperate need.

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WTF?

Eh?

What makes you think he doesn't have a job?

Because he rents his house?

It's a bit of a stretch don't you think?

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Anonymous Coward

@skelband

Try re-reading that rant maybe?

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Holmes

What?

What are these guys thinking? There are industrial devices for this that will survive a lot more abuse. Those iPads will be all dead in a year.

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WTF?

A year ? A week more like.

I worked for a company that had to make deliveries of gas cylinders. We *trialled* the drivers with proper ruggedized tablet devices, and most got broken within the first month. Nothing malicious, just knocks and scrapes and bangs.

It's pretty obvious this is a stunt to use up any surplus budget, to avoid losing it next year. I really don't see how dishing some fancy office-candy around a heavy industrial environment can be the result of a carefully planned project to improve bin collections.

I bet a FOI request this time next year will find that >50% of the iPads purchased "can't be located". I also predict a random swoop on refuse collectors residences would reveal an iPad.

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Knocks and scrapes and bangs

when it's nailed to the dashboard in a protective mount? That would have to be malicious.

I'm assuming that the council are buying the base 3G model ('cause the WiFi version doesn't have GPS to start with), they would become large satnav systems with popup messages from base telling them to go back to number 53 etc.

The main objection seems to be that it's Apple kit (which is priced about the same as competitors), not that it won't solve the problem.

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you clearly

haven't worked anywhere near heavy manual labour. Binmen have to wear hi-vis jackets which have metal straps and buckles - so they will swing around on entry/exit to the cab.

Then they wear heavy riggers gloves, which make delicate control difficult, so the screen is more at risk (because the council knows any directive which is going to require the drivers to remove/replace their gloves every minute will be an issue. Especially in my LA which had to spunk extra tens of thousands to the dust cart manufacturers for controls to be workable wearing gloves). Then there are the big boots which get swung around ... and the hard hats.

However, I am pleased this story ran. Because it is plainly obvious that if an LA can plurge £9K on such a totally inappropriate use of technology, then clearly their council tax payers are getting *very* good value for money.

By the way, this *isn't* a rant at refuse collectors. They work damn hard (I wouldn't do it) and I feel sorry for them having this frippery foisted upon them.

FFS even the little smartpad we used in Debenhams to compile our wedding list was built for life in a coal mine. When I queried it, the girl said they had tried 7 different models, and none had lasted for more than a month.

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And you clearly

haven't seen my binmen.

They wear hi-vis tabards with no metal straps or buckles that swing (if they had those they would be a H&S hazard in their own right).

The driver never leaves his seat - therefore does not wear any gloves. None of them wear hard-hats (why should they? the sky isn't likely to fall on their heads) and the majority (there's only 2 bin-men per truck (plus the diver)) appear to wear trainers or 'normal-looking' footware (possibly the safety sort) though).

I can't say I've noticed that they wear heavy riggers gloves, and in any case they don't apear to press anything while doing my street. They just move the bins to the back of the truck and the automation does the rest.

Thinking about your post, your LA must have tried really hard if they bought dustcarts with controls that couldn't be operated with gloves. Ours have levers with knobs the size of golf-balls and push-button emergency things the size of tennis balls.

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AFAIK

The driver doesn't wear gloves. I did it as a fill-in job for a couple of weeks and there was a dedicated driver (me) and a couple of guys to feed the bins into the back of the truck. Again, as far as I know, this is a pretty standard setup...the driver as a rule doesn't do much in the way of moving stuff; the driver's job is to put the vehicle in the right place to make the jobs of the loaders as easy as possible.

In theory all that would be needed would be a live map with the bin lorry's location (and maybe route, thus making life easier for new/relief drivers too) on it; a view of a few adjacent streets with uncollected bins in (marked by -say- flashing dots). The driver could then efficiently plan the extra missions...all without needing to touch the screen except to turn it on & off at the beginning & end of each shift. I can see how it could work.

Of course, being a council, I doubt if it'll work like that in practice.

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FAIL

@AC 14:32 - The DRIVER has to wear heavy gloves?

Pull the other one. He sits in a nice warm cab while the rest of the crew scurry around outside with the gloves on. I've also yet to see these swinging buckles of which you speak. If, even for one moment we took your claims seriously you seem to be working under the assumption that the screen needs to be permanently accessible and uncovered by something like a polycarbonate flap.

You seem to be under the impression that a device fixed in a case will suffer the same abuse as a shared mobile one. Think again for your comparisons.

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Alert

Could do with more detail

As I still can't see how the iPads are gonna help. What part of the process does the iPad take on? Sounds like another Local Authority that hasn't thought this out properly and entrusted it to some middle manager (who probably isn't qualified to be a manager) and made them the Project Manager (again will not be qualified for this either).

There are a lot of Local Authority employees that work hard and do a good job, unfortunately they are usually outnumbered by middle management twats that ruin all the good work and waste budgets on daft ideas.

AC cause I have one of those middle managers.

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How..

I've reread the article but I'm still lacking in understanding of what exactly these iPads are doing to improve things - in particular beyond what a simple mobile phone which can send/receive SMS's and make phone calls?

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Facepalm

How indeed

83,000 homes with a collection every fortnight equals 2,158,000 bins emptied per year, of which 4,228 were missed..

4,228 is 16 missed out of 16,600 per collection day. Unless the collectors are skipping whole streets occasionally it isn't clear how they'll not keep missing the odd one or two, or even 16.

I'm also not sure how they come up with their £40 per bin missed; does it really cost £640 to collect those missed 16 bins ?

Perhaps it's a pretext? What we need is an ID tag on every bin ...

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id

We have RFID on our bins. The council were going to weigh and charge until there was a stink about the idea, then they said they were not going to use the RFID.

However when one bloke took his tags out and posted them to the chief executive, the council stopped collecting his bins in a fit of overzealous pique. Look up "Brynley Heaven" on the FWSE

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