Tuesday, April 20, 2010

lean City Partnership

Clean City Partnership
The clean city partnership is responsible for delivering part of outcome 8 and NI 195. It works to raise standards of local environmental quality, including reducing litter, detritus, graffiti and fly tipping.

Chairman: Jacqui Kennedy OBE; Director of Regulatory Services, Birmingham City Council.

Membership consists of representatives from: Birmingham City Council, CSV Environment, Keep Britain Tidy, Midland Heart, Summerfields Resident Association, West Midlands Fire Service and West Midlands Police.

The clean city partnership has supported these projects in 2008/09:
  • Neighbourhood Charters- working with six priority neighbourhoods in Birmingham to develop cleaner, safer, greener neighbourhood charters. For more information about the programme so far click here to view a presentation.
  • Anti Graffiti programme- Birmingham City Council and a variety of partners have developed a sustainable solution to deal with graffiti. The approach works in 4 ways: intelligence, enforcement, removal and prevention.
  • Clean Priority Neighbourhoods- this project provides cleanliness survey data from the city's 25 priority neighbourhoods to support neighbourhood managers to prioritise and focus cleaning activities. A surveyor, travelling in an electric car, measures litter, fly-tipping, fly-posting graffiti etc.
  • Secured sites- secures and regenerates fly-tipped and disused land across the city. Projects range from gating, fencing and lanscaping, to complete regeneration of sites into parks and wildlife gardens.

Another volcanic ash

Another volcanic ash

A new blast of chaos: Another volcanic ash cloud bound for Britain halts reopening of airports 

  • Aberdeen and Edinburgh airports open, Glasgow set to close again
  • No flights from London airports before 7pm
  • Met Office forecasts latest ash cloud will continue to disperse across England, Wales and Northern Ireland today
A new eruption from the Icelandic volcano today threw plans to get Britain flying again into chaos.
Passengers who were told flights would resume today had their hopes dashed after more cancellations were announced as a new ash cloud headed towards the country.
Flights later today will be limited to eastern Scotland as the volcanic ash cloud situation remains 'dynamic', air traffic control company Nats said.
All London airports remained closed today and there will be no flights before 7pm at the earliest in the rest of England, nor in Wales or Northern Ireland.. 


Monday, April 19, 2010

How Smart Is Your City?

IBM is offering a free white paper that elaborates on the very successful webcast titled "How Smart Is Your City?"
For the first time in history, the world's population has shifted from a rural majority to an urban one. By 2050, 70 percent of people will be living in cities. Cities are systems of many complex systems. All the ways in which the world works — from transportation, to energy, to healthcare, to commerce, to education, to security, to food and water and beyond — come together in our cities. This means that cities — more than states, provinces or even nations — are the central arena for success or failure.
New tools and new models can now make cities more productive, more vibrant and more responsive. Interconnected and instrumented smart technologies offer a real-time integrated view of complex city systems, enabling administrators to monitor operations, improve performance and respond to the needs of their jurisdictions. New partnerships among businesses and the public sector means greater collaboration and opportunities to build smarter systems and smarter cities.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Immigrants gild the Golden State

Published Monday, March 02, 2009
More than one-in-four Californians are immigrants, and nearly half are Latino or Asian, according to the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center (IPC). Those two immigrant communities form a large part of the state's economy, providing one-third of the state's purchasing power and owning more than one-quarter of all businesses in the state. Immigrants pay $5.2 billion in state income tax annually, according to IPC's "New Americans in the Golden State: Immigrants, Latinos and Asians Indispensable to California Economy." California's Latino and Asian consumers wielded $411.8 billion in purchasing power in 2008. Immigrants also provide 36% ...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Computer-based testing gives public works professionals new flexibility

Published Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The Kansas City,Mo.-based American Public Works Association (APWA) now offers computer-based testing for Certified Public Fleet Professional and Certified Public Infrastructure Inspection exams. Beginning March 16, the new format will allow public works professionals to take the exam within a two-week testing block,and to receive their scores immediately. "New testing options will allow greater flexibility for fleet and infrastructure inspection professionals working to achieve certification while maintaining excellent public works services in their communities," APWA President Noel Thompson said in a statement. More than 170 testing centers across the country will offer the computer-based ...

Friday, April 16, 2010

PTI and Rutgers University form partnership

Published Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The Washington-based PTI and the SPAA at Rutgers University in Newark, N.J., are working together to help officials make better use of technology in government. PTI and SPAA will promote the development of next generation Web-based training and information systems, and will work toward achieving common strategic goals. The alliance gives SPAA a presence in Washington, and allows PTI access to the National Center for Public Performance and the Rutgers E-Governance Institute. The organizations will publish joint publications and will offer a new series of ...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Local government leaders struggle to keep employees on the payroll without drastic pay cuts

Published Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Public sector employees already are underpaid, according to the Washington-based AFT's ninth annual Public Employees Compensation Survey, released in September. But, with California’s decision Tuesday to lay off at least 10,000 state workers by July 1, state and local government employees are more concerned with simply holding on to the jobs they have. The California legislature still was working on resolving a $42 billion budget deficit on Wednesday to avoid laying off another 10,000 employees, according to the Los Angeles Times. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued 10,000 layoff notices ...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Group offers $500,000 for creation of energy alliance

Published Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The Atlanta-based Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) is offering $500,000 to the Southeastern city that makes the best proposal for forming a community energy alliance. The goal of the alliance is to retrofit homes and buildings in ways that save residents money on energy and water bills. Cities in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia may submit proposals for the program. "We are creating a five- to seven-year campaign to achieve unprecedented gas, electricity and water savings by retrofitting homes and other buildings and installing efficient and renewable ...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hatching new ideas

sending checks to some newly retired public employees that amounted to 100 percent or greater of their salary, and unfunded costs mounting, the state legislature in 2000 decided the retirement system had to change. In 2003, it created a hybrid pension system that combines guaranteed but limited retirement benefits with a market-based contributory plan. With the changes, the state's liability today has been reduced from 12 percent of the previous year's liability to 3 percent, and retirees are receiving about 80 percent of their employment salary.
“I can't imagine going back to the old system,” says David Crosley, communication officer for the Oregon Public Employee Retirement System. “Now we have our liabilities under control. This is more in line with what the legislature originally intended.”
With pension plans again facing a difficult environment after the severe turbulence in financial markets over the last two years, governments are looking for retirement plan models that will reduce their financial burdens. Fortunately, there are states and local governments that adjusted their pension plans years ago, and have notable results that could be instructive for others considering a change.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


By far, regulations (Total Maximum Daily Load limits, nutrient reduction in streams, sewer overflow prevention), which consistently result in increased capital spending and rate increases, were the most common topic during the lunchroom discussions. For example, an Ohio utility manager said it was difficult to make long-range strategic and capital plans when federal regulations can change at least every five years, requiring funds that were not in the projected budget for projects that were not in the long-range plan.
The most-oft voiced solution to regulatory demands (also called unfunded mandates) is solidarity among water and wastewater utilities, and public campaigns that educate stakeholders about the cost-benefit equation of continued reductions in point source limits. As one utility manager said, “Is the cost incurred by utilities to remove phosphorous from wastewater effluent — and passed along to customers and ratepayers — really justified by the minimal degree of improvement that is realized in water quality?”
Transitioning to watershed-based water quality programs and approving a framework for water quality trading programs also were raised as solutions. Virginia adopted a water quality trading program as one way to reduce the nutrient pollution that has degraded water quality and aquatic life in Chesapeake Bay. By purchasing credits from other utilities that have excess allocation in their permits above the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous they are discharging, utilities can reduce capital spending on treatment plant upgrades to meet permit limits.
As a result of seasonal droughts caused by precipitation pattern changes caused by climate change and population growth in arid areas, utility managers say that water scarcity is requiring them to evaluate customer use and may require larger capital investment for new sources of supply. Until new sources are found or developed, many participants say they are restricting water use, which results in decreases in water revenue and will not help cover the rising cost of water supplies. They also said that complicating the issue are the difficulties of siting new sources, frequently because of environmental concerns.
Many attendees say they are finding new water sources in their wastewater supplies and are attempting to change the paradigm from wastewater disposal to provider of resources, such as energy, bio-solids and reuse water. For example, the Alexandria, Va., Sanitation Authority is working with the city to provide reclaimed wastewater for industrial use. The reuse project will encourage industrial development that otherwise would have been hindered by tight discharge standards to the Potomac River, as well as avoid a treatment plant expansion. On the West Coast, Los Angeles' Bureau of Sanitation is engaged in a similar provision of services, including using its own wastewater treatment by-products (methane gas) to co-generate power with its neighboring electric utility, which is run by the city's Department of Water and Power. Soon, the bureau will expand the process to directly receive organic wastes (like fats, oils and grease) from outside organizations and put them directly into the same digesters to produce even more energy.

Friday, April 9, 2010

In deep water

Have you recently stood at a construction site at 2 a.m. watching your city crew repair a broken water main that created a mess on a main road, hoping the repairs would be made before a local news crew showed up?
Have you faced public opposition to rate increases to fund long overdue water or sewer infrastructure replacements and repairs?
Has a Department of Justice letter just arrived explaining that both of those problems have been solved — with a consent decree that imposes a tight schedule for making repairs that will cost much more than your budget is prepared to handle?
If so, then you are not alone. In fact, you are like the more than 100 leaders and managers from nearly 60 water utilities who discussed the issues they face in a series of workshops, called “Views from the Lunchroom,” held across the country last year. The conversations engaged managers from water and wastewater utilities diverse in geography, size and customer demographics, and revealed similarities among the communities' issues and their consequences. The meetings revealed that utility managers in all kinds of cities and counties are dealing with substantial issues, such as the environment, financial support, aging infrastructure, workforce development and cooperation with other jurisdictions.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Weichman has built a “cushion” into Palm Beach County's fleet through vehicle specification tactics — paying a little more on the front end for more robust equipment, so the county can push a vehicle past nominal replacement cycles if needed.

It is a tactic being deployed in many government fleets, says Darry Stuart, president of Wrentham, Mass.-based DWS Fleet Management Services, a firm specializing in fleet maintenance issues. “You should spec a truck to last 10 years at least,” he says. “You may think you're going to keep it for only eight years, but if you reach year eight and you're in an economy like we're in now, you'll want to be able to run it another year or two. That's the flexibility a properly thought-out spec'ing strategy gives you.”
In addition, proper maintenance can help vehicles last longer. Using the highest synthetic hydraulic or transmission fluid not only creates longer service intervals — thus lowering maintenance costs — but also provides longer warranty coverage from the manufacturer. “There's a direct correlation between the specs you choose to keep that truck on the street. You can't skimp on your specs if you expect to see a return on your investment, and that return is uptime,” Stuart says.

Palm Beach County has been following those guidelines for years. “Our goal is to buy as high quality a product as we can,” Weichman says. “We look at beefier components to give the truck more strength. So, when we reach a time like this, we can push our replacement cycle out beyond our nominal five to seven years — maybe out to eight or nine years.”
Even tire choice can significantly affect a fleet's operating budget, says Steven Hunter, a waste transfer station manager for Buncombe County, N.C. For example, the county previously transported 200 tons of trash a day from its transfer station to the county landfill, using seven tractor-trailers. Now, they can move 300 tons per day with the same equipment largely by buying self-sealing tires that reduce vehicle downtime.
The county's tractor-trailers were getting flat tires when driving over the refuse in the landfill, resulting in one to two hours of vehicle downtime if they had to call for service, which would add another $300 to $400. “On rainy days, it was common for nails, screws and other debris to cause three to four flats per day as tires would spin and pick up punctures,” Hunter says. By switching to self-sealing tires, flats were reduced by 75 percent, which meant more vehicle uptime and trash-hauling capacity.

Rex Victory, heavy equipment supervisor of Sedgwick County, Kan., stresses the importance of choosing the right vehicle for the application — one that is neither too light, resulting in more breakdowns under the stress of the work, or too heavy, when the extra cost is not necessary. “We've spec'd Class 7 trucks in the past for snowplow applications, and they've proved to be too light for our needs,” he says. “But full-size Class 8s offer more than we need and at a higher price tag.”

Sedgwick County maintains 680 miles of road surrounding Wichita and outlying areas — about 1,000 square miles. The county's 23 Class 7 and 8 trucks are equipped with snowplows for snow season, which lasts from November through March. The trucks are equipped with 13-yard dump bodies and 12-yard sand spreaders with power take offs to operate the snowplows. After snow season, Victory says the blades come off and life as a dump truck begins — hauling asphalt for road repairs and rocks for shoulder repairs.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

NASCIO supports FCC's National Broadband Plan

The Lexington, Ky.-based National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) has issued its support for the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) recently released National Broadband Plan. The plan would include Universal Service Fund (USF) financing for broadband expansion, expansion of e-government secure authentication and online service delivery, deployment of a nationwide, interoperable mobile public safety broadband network and the transition to Next Generation 911.
NASCIO President and Utah CIO Steve Fletcher commended the FCC for "recognizing and addressing the important role that states play in the deployment and adoption of broadband." "NASCIO is also pleased that the FCC is making recommendations in the plan that will emphasize the need for first responders to have access to a public safety communication system," Fletcher said in a statement.
NASCIO will continue analyzing the plan and will issue comments on individual elements or recommendations in the plan as that review continues, according to Fletcher's statement.