Sunday, March 8, 2009

Getting on top of things

I was having a chat with one of our councillors this week and mentioned that it looks like the graffiti truck is regularly visiting sites that get hit a lot, rather than waiting for a report to come in from residents.

He said that this is the case, and mentioned a site near Concord High School that was being hit again and again and again.  After repeated cleanups by the graffiti truck, the site is hardly being hit at all these days.  Once vandals learn that their handiwork will be quickly removed, and removed again and again and again, they give up.  Tagging starts to become a pointless and fruitless exercise.

How does the graffiti crew know that a site is being hit regularly, and therefore needs the pro-active, repeat treatment?

Simple - because that site is being regularly reported by residents. It's easy to run a report on the graffiti database, and work out which are the most graffiti-prone sites, and to then include them on a regular, weekly drive-by.

If only our utilities would take the same approach.

I reported a vandalised substation to Energy Australia on 28 Feb via their "contact us" web page.  I got this email today - over a week later:

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the graffiti on the substation in Barnstaple Rd Five Dock.

Your enquiry has been forwarded to the responsible area for their attention and is being processed.

The Notification Number for your request is 500067105  and all follow up enquiries should be made to our Contact Centre on 131535.

Yours sincerely,

At least I got a response, but it shouldn't have taken this long to process it.  I thought the idea of web-enabling things was to speed them up.  It looks like it's faster to go the old fashioned route, and make a phone call.  It might even be faster to post them a letter.

Cleaning up vandalism is not the core business of utilities, which is why it sits so low on their list of priorities.  If they outsourced the cleaning up to council, the site probably would have been repainted by Tuesday.  Instead, it will probably take them another month to get a painting crew around to cleanup the substation, which is sub-optimal to say the least.  

If you think this is madness, just remember that the idea of getting councils to clean graffiti on things like substations was proposed in Parliament last year, and rejected by the current government.  Our local member, Angela D'Amore, is on record as having voted against what most would see as a very sensible proposition.

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