Recording street light assets

In this article we take a look at how a Parish in Aylesbury Vale has had the bright idea (sorry) to map their street lights using Parish Online.

Wendover Parish Council in Aylesbury Vale has used Parish Online since 2011. The Parish Council has invested time and effort to create parish data layers to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of parish management.

A good example of a Parish layer is Street Lighting” says Ella Jones, the Parish Clerk. “We have mapped all 581 Street Lights in the Parish and we use this layer regularly to confirm ownership (Parish, District or RAF) and to pin-point the exact location of faults. The Street Lighting layer saves us a lot of time, because reports from the public often don’t provide an exact location. But from the Column Number we can provide our contractor with an accurate map of the location as well as details of the type of Street Light, bulb type, contractor, maintenance history etc. If the Street Light doesn’t belong to the Parish then we can pass the report to the proper owner electronically and without delay.”

Ella says that the Street Lighting layer is also used to support the Parish Asset Register which is vital for insurance. “The record for each Street Light allows the inclusion of details such as the purchase price, the replacement value and the insured price. This will help us to understand the value of our assets, and it gives our insurers the data that they need to understand their insurance liability. A lot of the detailed data is still missing but we are currently putting in a lot of work into improving the data.”

Ella’s aim over the next few years is to use Parish Online as a tool to organise all parish records into an easily-accessible record for the council. “As the Parish Clerk I need to be able to lay my hands on all sorts of information and records, and at the moment these are held in a wide variety of different formats and media, from paper files to Excel spreadsheets to Word Documents. It took me several months to learn to navigate my way around the Parish Records, and even now I may have to spend half an hour locating an unfamiliar document. Parish Online provides a way to associate each parish record with the appropriate object in the appropriate parish layer. For instance, Parish Online will allow us to attach all the maintenance records for Street Lights to each individual light in the Street Light Layer. This will make the records easy to find, and it will allow any councillor who has the correct access rights to view the records remotely. This allows the parish as a whole to function more efficiently, for instance when I am away on holiday. There is still a long way to go before all the parish records are properly organised in Parish Online, but we are making progress.

In the future Ella would like to see more sharing of data between Parish Councils and between Parishes and the higher tiers of Local Government. She thinks that this would improve data quality by identifying and resolving errors in datasets. “A good example is publicly-owned land. The District Council does have a map on its website showing who is responsible for grass cutting. But it doesn’t show which authority owns little bits of land and I am finding some areas that have hedges owned by the County Council which we are then expected to cut under devolved services. It’s very hard to know exactly who owns what, and I think a consolidated map (which each authority could contribute to) would be a great help.” 

Better coordination of data and information between the different tiers of Local Government is a key aim of Parish Online, and we are starting to work with some leading Districts and Counties such as Bath and North East Somerset and West Sussex to identify the shared layers which would be the most useful. Leading candidates for shared layers include Publicly-owned Land and Buildings, Trees and Drainage. 

Ella is pleased that the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) is now encouraging all parishes to use a Digital Mapping System. “At the moment Parish Online is used by me, the Parish Clerk, to organise parish data. But the parish councillors do not yet use the system to access records, and there is clearly a lot of potential for them to do so.

 

We'd like to thank Ella for the time taken to speak to us about her use of Parish Online. If you have a story where the use of digital mapping is benefiting you, even in a small way, we'd love to hear from you. Just contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you'd like to start mapping your street lights, we've got some hand tutorials in our Knowledge Base to get you started:

  1. Creating Map Layers
  2. Adding Map Objects using the Editor Tool
  3. Styling a Map Layer
  4. Share your data using the User Manager Module

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