There are some businesses that work behind the scenes and are vital to the well-being of a community. If the employees fail to show up for the week or if the department closes down, the city would greatly feel the absence of their contributions. The Beautification Department of DeKalb County Government is one such organization that ensures that suburban Atlanta continues to look great. Gordon Burkette, Manager of Keep DeKalb Beautiful, has created his own mobile apps to aid his team to complete the countless tasks that make these various clean-up projects possible.
Managing Keep DeKalb Beautiful is no easy task. Gordon oversees just under 100 employees who maintain the sides of about 200 roads and 400 lots. On any given day, their specific jobs may include beautification projects, mowing lawns, litter abatement, special events, community clean ups and logistic activities. With so many moving parts, it can be a monumental undertaking to make sure that everyone is where they are supposed to be doing what they were sent to do.
One specific project came up in which Gordon had to oversee the distribution of roll carts (the containers used in residential garbage collections) to 175,000 single family households. While that in itself seems overwhelming, each household was given the choice of four different sized garbage containers and two recycling containers. This is when Gordon decided that an app maker was required to track all of the pickups and deliveries of the roll carts.
“I created an app that divided the county into five areas. Each request in the program was assigned to an area. Each delivery truck had a separate app on their phone (one app for each delivery area based on a master app). From the map or list of deliveries, the current day’s work would turn green. Additional containers could be delivered anytime, so they remained green every day,” Gordon explains. “Based on the area apps each driver would build their truck for the next day. The master app was used to input deliveries for each area app and to monitor productivity by area app. Using this process more than tripled daily deliveries.”
Like many managers, Gordon formerly used a spreadsheet and handwritten notes to do his job. Now that he has been using AppSheet for over a year, he has been able to make his own apps for the variety of projects that he is responsible for. From changing road signs to monitoring the conditions of bus stops, he is discovering new ways to communicate efficiently with his mobile employees while accessing additional app tools. “When a field supervisor sees a dirty [bus stop] shelter, they take a picture of it which captures the time and location. They then push a button to say if the location is dirty and if trash receptacle is full. When the supervisor hits save it sends an automated email with a picture and description of the shelter to the transit authority for servicing.”
Gordon and his team have seen great progress with the way their company is managed through the convenience of an app maker and the diligence and ingenuity of Gordon. Not only are they able to make more timely decisions, but it has, “changed the way we communicate to our customers (automated messages to keep them informed of progress on their requests), and it’s easier to assign work, track progress and collect key data,” states Gordon. “We will be expanding our use of the program into the coming year. Everyday we have new and better ideas.”