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City of New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY)

New York City Department of Sanitation Makes Clean Sweep of Hurricane Sandy

Agency uses Field Force Manager Powered by Xora to Speed and Document Removal of Storm Debris

People who were not in the path of Hurricane Sandy when the mega storm made landfall on the East Coast of the United States on October 29, 2012 can only imagine what it was like.

Sandy affected 24 states in all, but hardest hit were New Jersey and New York. Imagine whole communities destroyed by flooding, leaving tens of thousands of people homeless. Mass transit was crippled. The storm caused billions of dollars of infrastructure and property damage. Power was cut to more than 8 million homes, some of which remained dark for weeks. Tragically, more than 100 people lost their lives.

According to the New York Times, Sandy created an estimated four million cubic yards of debris across New York City’s five boroughs. Blocking roadways, sidewalks, building entrances, parks and beaches, this debris could soon become giant piles of rotting waste, threatening public safety and impeding the task of getting the city moving again.

That was the challenge facing the more than 9,000 employees of the New York City Department of Sanitation. In the immediate aftermath of Sandy, in keeping with its charter, the Department was responsible for emergency removal of waste and bulky storm debris in public areas – residential neighborhoods and public schools, buildings, large institutions, parks and beaches. This required mobilizing a massive cleanup effort within hours of the storm subsiding, as soon as it was safe for sanitation crews to begin work.

During normal operations, Department crews are assigned regular routes with scheduled pickup days. To help monitor these mobile teams, the Department uses Field Force Manager from Verizon, a mobile workforce management solution powered by Xora. With time of the essence, late that first evening DSNY called its Account Manager at Xora and described the challenge and their need to more effectively document the cleanup instead of “just grabbing everything in sight with no record of what we had done.”

Together DSNY’s Operations Management Division Chief and Xora discussed requirements for a new mobile form that could be used by supervisors in the field to electronically document, describe and report back on conditions on the ground. Xora delivered the new form early the next morning and by the afternoon, a team of Department supervisors was trained and had hit the streets.

Says Chief Alfred Ferguson, Director of the Operations Management Division, “Xora was instrumental in our cleanup efforts, having played a major role in the development and implementation of much needed emergency programming changes in a very short turnaround time.”

Armed with the new mobile form, the supervisors began surveying damage in affected areas, using the mobile form to note what types of crews and equipment would be needed and where, depending on the nature and location of the debris. This data was transmitted back to headquarters where the detailed descriptions of debris and its locations were used to plan the cleanup and schedule work crews and equipment.

The data collected was also mapped by Department personnel providing a visual representation of the debris field to be addressed the next day. All normal routes, pickup days and crew assignments were suspended and replaced by massive neighborhood-by-neighborhood sweeps. Because the mobile form was needed 24 hours a day, Xora postponed a planned system upgrade so that service to the Department would not be interrupted.

The information collected using the mobile forms guided District personnel when assigning equipment and helped ensure DSNY sent out the right equipment for the job the first time around. “It also allowed us to keep a detailed electronic record of what we did, for example, what kind of debris we collected and how from any location in the city during any 24 hour period. That’s exactly what we needed during Hurricane Sandy cleanup and why Field Force Manager would be valuable in any emergency situation,” Chief Alfred Ferguson said.

With Hurricane Sandy cleanup officially ended and the department back to business as usual, DSNY now is rolling out a pilot program to test a new Xora job form designed to replace the handwritten logbook currently in us. DSNY is now adopting a new form citywide with hopes of providing the City of New York and its citizens with similar benefits to those realized in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

“Being able to view the locations and progress of snowplows helps New York City residents stay abreast of snow removal efforts in their neighborhoods and plan faster and safer routes to work, school and home during and after snowstorms,”

said Chief Alfred Ferguson, Director of the Operations Management Division