Cloud computing case study: Lewisham Borough Council

By Robert Jaques
31 May 2011 View Comments

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Cloud computing technology has played a key role in the development of an award-winning online environmental service deployed by the London Borough of Lewisham.

Launched publicly in 2005, the web-based service LoveLewisham.org was conceived as a way to give citizens, elected councillors and council environmental workers the power to improve their immediate environment. The service features an interactive map using the latest Microsoft Silverlight browser plug-in and Bing Maps for Enterprise to identify and submit reports of environmental incidents such as fly tipping, fly posting or graffiti in real time. Leveraging the service cleanup efforts can be undertaken with optimum efficiency.

The LoveLewisham project had its origins in a web-based reporting application developed by Nigel Tyrell, head of environmental services at Lewisham London Borough Council, in 1999. This allowed environmental incident location information to be posted via the web into a Microsoft Access database using ASP (Active Server Pages).

By 2004, the benefits of this web site were clearly apparent, but Tyrell decided that its functionality would be greatly improved if users of the site were able to post images of environmental issues directly to the web site.

"It started one day when I was on the way home and saw some fly-tipped rubbish. I got out my Pocket PC and took a photo, which got me wondering if it would be possible to post the image directly into the database," Tyrell explained.

Microsoft Certified Partner bbits enhances service

"To assess the technical feasibility of these enhancements we contacted Microsoft Certified Partner bbits. In 2004 the service was refined and improved by bbits with greatly enhanced functionality, including the ability to post images of incidents. In addition to improving the efficiency of our environmental services teams, it means citizens can monitor how their local council is acting on the reports of areas that are blighted by graffiti or the illegal dumping of waste."

The technology developed by bbits to underpin the service includes the Microsoft .NET Framework for the development work and Windows Server 2008 for the operating system, as well as Component Object Model. It has also deployed Microsoft Content Management Server 2007, Microsoft HPC Pack 2008, and Excel Services in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.

After an internal pilot that saw Lewisham's elected members and workers test the service, it was decided that the reporting initiative was ready to go live in 2005.

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