Election fever

Photo of a polling station

In case you hadn’t noticed(!), we’ve just had another vote. And while in the run up pundits analysed polls and predictions, others were getting on with the practicalities of preparing for an election.

The booth that you step into to cast your ballot doesn’t live at the local church hall or primary school that has been transformed into a polling station for the day. Nor do any extra lighting or heating, additional accessibility ramps, or barriers that are needed for the day.

All the election equipment has to be delivered to the polling stations ahead of time. And the Transport Team at Sheffield CC support the Election Team by planning the routes for delivering that equipment efficiently and on-time. And, you guessed it, they use QRoutes to help them do this.

Once the Election Team have booked and confirmed all the polling stations, they send the list of addresses to the Transport Team, who get to work sorting the list into schedules for the delivery of equipment before polling day and collection shortly after.

First, they convert the list into a QRoutes file, validating the addresses within the application.

Next, they enter the available fleet and create different consignment types for the equipment, allocating the time it takes to load and unload it.

And then they begin planning. There are two types of deliveries – manned and unmanned.

Unmanned buildings are part of ‘key’ routes and these are planned first, using QRoutes’ skip function.

Manned deliveries are organised separately, with care taken to ensure the delivery at each venue will be when someone is there to meet it.

There are 190 stations within the Sheffield boundary. In theory, these deliveries could be arranged in 190! ways (which is a very big number). But QRoutes helps the team find the best solutions quickly.

Mike Keen, Senior Transport Officer, says the “speed of QRoutes is useful for bulk processing”.

QRoutes’ GIS interface means the team can switch visibility of routes on and off, seeing the overall picture or drilling down for detail when they need to. And the speed of processing means they can quickly recalculate schedules if they need to.

In fact, this time around because of the threat of bad weather, the team opted to deliver much of the equipment the week before the election, rather than the Tuesday or Wednesday of election week. So, getting the job done quickly was extra helpful.

And once it was over and pundits were pondering about the results, the teams were out collecting the election equipment for storage until the next one.