The Report a Fault website service created by W.D.M. Limited was used to help victims of Hurricane Ophelia, which hit Northern Ireland in October.
The BBC News published and broadcast emergency phone numbers during the storm and links to the NI Direct website. They encouraged people living in the path of the storm to report fallen trees and obstructions to enable the roads to be kept clear for emergency vehicles.
At the height of the gales on Monday, 16 October, nearly 400 reports were recorded on the site (see report).
Normally, the ‘Report a Fault’ facility is available for residents to report general fault, including broken streetlights, potholes and drainage problems.
WDM® developed the process, known as Public Information Portal, or ‘PIP’, as part of their Integrated Highway Asset Management System.
Faults reported online are instantly flagged for review and if work is urgently required, the defects are forwarded to the council's maintenance contractor to action.
Repair teams receive the detail of the fault on new 'tough' tablets, which means they get the information in real time, without needing to return to a depot for instructions.
Ian Cadwallader, Software Development Manager at WDM®, says the Report a Fault programme not only increases direct access for members of the public to report problems, but gives the council greater control over its assets.
“The software increases both communication and efficiency of operation, enabling the authority to carry out effective repairs without undue delay. It has also proved itself extremely effective during times of emergency, allowing members of the public to highlight problems and know they can make a difference,” he said.