Brightly bringing benefits to Kent County Council

County Hall in Kent

Brightly’s Confirm Enterprise Asset Management Solution is helping local authorities manage their public infrastructure more efficiently and effectively. 

And one organisation that knows just how transformative the system can be is Kent County Council (KCC), which has been using the technology for almost two decades.

Confirm brings together huge volumes of information from across an organisation and provides instant data which can then be used to make informed, efficient decisions on repairs, maintenance and investment – critically important when both budgets and timescales are under increasing pressure. 

Brightly, which was acquired by Siemens in August last year and now sits in Siemens Smart Infrastructure business, has been developed over the last 30 years and has worked with a number of county councils. 

As one of the largest in the UK, Kent’s assets are vast.

Covering 3,737sq km of land and home to more than 1.5m residents, the county also takes in 350 miles of coastline. 

And when it comes to assets to manage, we are talking big numbers. 

Kent has 8,690km of carriageways, 6,276km of footways, 122,00 streetlights, 2,800 structures and bridges, 275,000 roadside drains, not to mention 80,000 trees. 

All must be maintained, repaired and replaced when needed. 

But many of these assets are now controlled efficiently thanks to Brightly Confirm, as the company has been working with KCC since 2006.

Carol Valentine, business, innovation and technology manager highways and transportation at Kent County Council, said: “We are a big authority, and we need somewhere to record our assets. 

"For example, every time a pothole is repaired, that’s got to be recorded - we need to know that it’s been done because it’s a statutory responsibility and also for insurance purposes. 

"So, we have to a have a repository that can accurately record all of our assets and have what we call a ‘single source of truth’, so we know that if it’s sitting in WAMs (the Confirm works assets management system) we can understand what’s happened.”

Start to finish, from logging of a job to it being completed and paid for, the whole process is tracked in detail. 

Working with Brightly has also ensured streamlining of the system to improve customers’ experience so they are updated on critical data when working with the authority – something that previous systems didn’t allow.

Ryan Chantrill-Smith, Kent County Council’s business systems manager, explained: “We can share things such as different schedules, gritting routes – basically anything we have in the system. 

"It enables us to compile the data and have that transparency between us and the contractor.”

Since 2006 Kent County Council has continued to work with Brightly to develop systems that work for the authority. 

A programme board was established to bring more assets under the Confirm system. 

Managers working within the authority were asked what they wanted the system to do to ensure best results. 

Many of those programmes have now become business as usual for Kent.

KCC continues to work with Brightly to test the functionality of the system to get more value. 

Around 10 further projects are currently being considered and discussed at the programme board.

With all data in one place, and accessible to those who need to use it, it ensures a much smoother and more efficient process. 

New technology has been embraced positively within the authority with staff adapting to new ways of working. 

A group of super-users helped train staff in the early stages. 

This has now been followed by the setting up of a user group.

“The user group involves the asset teams,” explained Chantrill-Smith. 

“Anyone that uses the WAMs system nominates someone from their department to come and sit on the group. 

"That enables them to discuss any issues they have when they’re using the system. 

"It’s very helpful for discussing any projects, changes or issues.”

So, what have been the big benefits of Confirm for KCC?

“Finance is always a driver, we’re very conscious of costs and it is public money,” said Valentine. 

“For us, we also want efficiency and safety. 

"Our critical purpose is to keep people using our networks safe. This system helps us to do that.”

KCC has continued to take a proactive approach to new technology, adopting new systems and seeing what else it can achieve for the authority. 

One example of this continuous improvement is the introduction of new software – Brightly’s Community Central – which enables users to access and report issues in their local communities and receive updates on progress, reducing pressures on resources and improving service outcomes.

This system, being used by the authority under the banner of My Kent Highways, is currently a pilot project and will come online towards the end of October. 

Initially, it will start as a place to report issues with potholes before another 35 areas are added over the next 18 months.

“There’s a lot of focus on highways so we are able to use the Brightly system and its partners to enable us to deliver a better service to our customers,” added Valentine.

 “The more we can improve that process the more it helps us save money and time - and helps the customer.”

Reporting a pothole using the system, residents will be updated at certain points – when the job is raised, when it’s complete, if it’s being passed to the district authority. 

Plus there will be a chat function to allow you to ask further questions.

Using Brightly’s technology is constantly evolving for KCC which recently signed another three-year contract with Brightly. 

It is now exploring how other assets could be managed by the technology.

Valentine says Brightly’s technology has made a massive difference to how the authority works. 

“The first thing all our frontline staff do in the morning is log into WAMs, the dashboard shows them where the work is, what the inquiries are, have they got any phone calls to make – so it’s a fundamental part of delivering our frontline services."

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