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Fly tipping, CCTV, APP and Star Wars!

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

I deal with fly tipping enforcement and waste crime. After a pretty lengthy procurement process we’ve recently bought 8 CCTV units, they are pole mounted taking electricity from the street lamp. So we can move them around the city to look at different hot spots, although we think we’ll only move them every few months as they are moveable, not portable! Once installed, we can control the pan, tilt and zoom from a mobile phone and footage can be downloaded by the Council’s central CCTV facility over 4G. So we’ll dip into the field of view once a day, see if any fly tipping has taken place. If so, we’ll spin back through the stored footage to see if a vehicle was involved. If so, we can get the footage, and provided we can see an offence we can ask for the keeper details from DVLA and although this is rudimentary information we can at least start an investigation. For starters, you’ll appreciate the keeper isn’t necessarily the driver, and not all vehicle registration marks are known to the DVLA, and Sod’s Law means that on occasion the registration plate was just not visible on the footage.

But the units are the subject of quite some interest Council wide, not least because everyone wants a slice of them! As a manager, I want to know where they are, when they went into that location, when are they due out and so on. I also want to keep a record of their status (we’ve had some frustrating breakdowns). Andy, who is the Environmental Enforcement Officer dealing with the new equipment, also needs to keep a track of this but also more boring stuff like the unit’s IP address, serial number etc.

I needed to figure out an easy way to do this, so using APP, I created a Miscellaneous Activity (MA) based “User Defined Activity” using CFW, with a MA activity code of D30. I defined a window with a few fields (Active? (yes/no), Location (free text), Move due (date)). I created a user group with myself, Andy and other relevant staff, ensuring they had access to MA to update and report. I pondered creating a premises record for each unit and link the MA records to those, but decided to just use an MA record for each unit. I don’t think there’d be any benefit in the PR record. We’ve used the description field in the MA for the serial number and IP address. The user defined window gives easy access to the current location, active status and move due date.

To get the system going, I created an MA record, activity code D30, for each unit with a unique premises name beginning with “CCTV”. In this way, it’s easy to select the unit of interest – just find by name “CCTV” and list matches. (you don’t get anyone else’s “CCTV” named records as they are not MA activity code D30) To keep some interest, we named them after Star Wars characters e.g. CCTV C3PO, CCTV Chewbacca, CCTV Darth Vader, CCTV Han Solo, CCTV Luke Skywalker. So as manager I can run the “More Activity” CCTV report and get the details of which unit is where, whether it’s operational, when it’s due out whenever I get asked “When is it our turn”!

Each MA record has an action diary to record what was the exact location, any trials and tribulations with that unit, effectively giving us a history of where that unit has been, how it performed, what maintenance or servicing has been done and so on. Each MA record has an action detail code DY3 with user defined fields giving the historical installation and extraction date.

Andy links a new Service Request (SR) record to each unit when it arrives in a new location, so we can record what the unit has achieved operationally (rather than the service and maintenance details) For instance CCTV Chewbacca based on Stadium Way has a bunch of emails asking our Parks team to cut back the trees as they are obscuring the field of view! Any incidents recorded are given their own SR to keep track of the investigation as per any other investigation, progressing to a prosecution record (PSU) if we get sufficient evidence to take formal action. Our current Fixed Penalty amount for fly tipping is £400, and so far we have .

I’m sure the more experienced APP users out there could devise more efficient ways of dealing with these units, and I don’t pretend to have devised anything foolproof or even original, but I did think it was worth sharing so others can either nod sagely (whilst thinking they would approach the idea in a totally different way!) or tut their heads off! We’re not on Cx but I’m sure there are simple ways using that system to replicate my small project.

Time to set up – probably a couple of hours. Longevity – permanent. Benefits / time saved v paper system – incalculable.

Mark Parry

Environmental Enforcement Team Manager

Environmental Protection Service

Business Strategy & Regulation

Sheffield City Council

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Steven Law
Steven Law
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