Thinking big – while covering the smaller needs
«Reaching people when it matters most» is UMS’ motto, a promise we always keep in mind in our daily work at the Innovation Centre. Our job is to develop new technological solutions to help our customers reach people when it matters most. But when does it really «matter most»?
Improved information flow
The need to know with absolute certainty that you are able to convey information in situations of crisis is steadily increasing. We often hear the world grows smaller and smaller, while the global society’s total risk picture seems to become ever more extensive. One of UMS’ most important tasks is to ensure safety for citizens through establishing efficient real time communication in situations where every second counts.
Luckily most people feel safe in their everyday life in the Norwegian society today. In spite of the tragedy occurring in 2011, our society is generally characterized by openness. That is not to say we’re not always thinking in terms of precaution, but it allows us to consider in what ways the technology we develop may improve society’s information flow – also in everyday situations.
At UMS innovation it is largely about transfer value – to explore how already available technology and software may be utilized in new ways, with new results. As head of the Innovation Centre I would like to bring to your attention an example of this kind of «transferred» software development, commissioned by Trondheim cleaning department (Trondheim Renholdsverk – TRV).
Updating the waste disposal industry: From post-it to app
Haven’t we all, at one time or another, experienced the irritation of having to bring our garbage back inside because the bin is full? And then thought: When is the garbage truck coming? In Trondheim these problems now belong to the past. We have developed an app for TRV enabling them to communicate with the garbage truck in real time and finding out when it is due.
The idea behind the TRV-app is simple: to make everyday life simpler
Above all it makes it simpler at our end when getting rid of our garbage. The app enables the citizens of Trondheim to get informed when the garbage truck is due next or whether it has already been there. And if one happens to be one of the many who forgets to move their bin for the truck to empty, the app lets you create a regular reminder telling you what to do and when.
Everyday proceedings are also made easier for the drivers, who may use the app at any time to download a time schedule and find out which route to take. Also, should any customer be in need of any extra service, or – the other way around – the driver needs to inform one or many of the customers of anything, they can communicate via the app. Messages that were earlier called in to the central and taken down on a post-it note, and then often lost before it reached the driver, are now passed on immediately. Consequently, the customer and the driver will now communicate with each other in a far simpler and more direct way. The central may also follow the truck in real time when the driver has started on his route, to see which areas and houses have had their bins emptied. This doesn’t mean the trucks are being monitored, but the app will keep a running update on where and when garbage has been removed. This information is also logged, giving the central access to the information afterwards.
The app also makes things easier and more efficient for temps and the newly employed. Everything to do with training – regulations, routines, and internal information that earlier were passed down by word of mouth and have, one might say, become second nature to the drivers – can now be made available via the app.
Our innovative technology has simply made the cleaning industry in Trondheim much more efficient!
When it matters most
One might at this point be tempted to ask whether waste disposal fits in with our promise to contribute «when it matters most». My answer to that is that conditions soon turn critical if a larger city’s waste disposal collapses. Let us finally look at an example of this happening.
The city of Naples in the south of Italy has experienced trouble with waste disposal for years. In the summer of 2008 the crisis peaked as the streets overflowed with garbage and swarmed with rats. The background for this «Crisi dei rifuti in Campania», as it is called in Italy, was complex, but there is no doubt inadequate communication was a contributing factor.
As this example shows, insufficient waste disposal poses a major risk in critical situations. Looking at the wider picture, this case shows by example how vulnerable society is when important and correct information does not get through. At UMS our most important job is to develop simple and user-friendly systems to structure, safeguard, and ease everyday life.