Rapidly expanding broadband provider Giganet enhances management of its street works with help from Symology’s Aurora solution.
Giganet is a UK internet trailblazer. The company was launched with a simple aim: to be the best and most trusted Internet Service Provider in the UK. It’s a multi-award winning business, including taking out the prestigious ‘Overall Fibre Provider of the Year’ at the 2022 Fibre Provider Awards. Giganet’s priorities in delivering hyperfast full fibre home broadband and business internet are top quality service and customer experience.
To achieve its service and customer experience targets means efficiently managing that all-important fibre network and associated assets. The Department for Transport’s Street Manager digital street works coordination system is designed to help with this, but according to Steve Linacre, Head of Street Works Performance at Giganet, this wasn’t entirely the case.
“We were using Street Manager directly, but the problem we had was in trying to extract usable data via their reporting methods,” he said. “This was particularly difficult for financial reporting. That was causing us quite a few headaches.”
At the time – late 2021 – this was beginning to be an issue for Giganet, and Linacre could see that reporting would become increasingly complex once Giganet brought on new partners in March 2022.
“Street Manager on its own provides us with the fundamentals, but using it as a standalone street works solution isn’t straightforward,” Linacre explained. “The reporting aspect is extremely important to us, as that’s how we’re able to measure our and improve on our performance, and thus our levels of service. Street Manager allowed us to raise permits for any works, but we needed a complementary solution to take our service to the next level.”
Linacre approached integrated asset management solution developer and supplier Symology to see how they could tackle the problem together. They agreed to use Symology’s Aurora software, which offered a number of advantages and benefits over using Street Manager alone.
One of Aurora’s advantages is that it includes comprehensive reporting tools which allow Giganet to manage the full lifecycle of works which are raised using dashboard widgets. They can also manage charges, such as Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN), and Permits, via an in-built enquiries mechanism.
Monitoring works lifecycles can include elements such as notifying users about works due to close which require the submission of a Registration notice, calculating and notifying of potential jeopardy charges, notification of potential FPN offences, and automated calculation of permit charges associated with works.
“These sorts of facilities within Aurora are extremely useful to Giganet,” Linacre said. “By being on top of any potential noticed and permit charges, we can ensure that we manage and maintain our reputation – a job that is increasingly complex as the volume of works increases.
Giganet’s Contract Partners use the Aurora system directly, which allows Giganet to have full visibility of the works being raised under their ‘Statutory Undertaker’ licence. There’s also an in-built facility for communication between Giganet and partners, meaning all important details of penalties, defects, acceptance statuses and associated dates and times are recorded within the system, rather than via external email.
Aurora provides Giganet with both live spatial (map-based) and textual information on their own activities – draft, planned, proposed, in progress and completed – and, utilising Street Manager Open Data, all street works information for other Promoters, as well as activities being undertaken by the relevant Authority. This helps to avoid conflicts and delays, and aids with coordination and future planning.
With the benefits clear, Giganet and Symology agreed to go ahead, making Giganet the first utility provider to go live on Aurora. As 2022 dawned, everything looked straightforward. Set Giganet up with Aurora; test; go live. However, a few challenges still had to be surmounted.
Timescales were tight. Aurora for Street Works Promoters was a brand new Symology product, and development delays threatened to put the project at risk. Giganet needed to go live by March 1, 2022, as that’s when their new partners were due to start.
Symology acted quickly. In order to prevent go-live delays, they implemented Insight, Aurora’s predecessor product, for Giganet.
“It was a case of ensuring we provided Giganet with a sturdy and reliable system which they could use to plug the gap between their hard go-live date and Aurora’s full availability,” Symology’s Stuart Marshall explained. “This worked well, and Giganet were able to work on Insight right up to the point that Aurora was 100% ready to go, stable and able to do exactly what Giganet needed it to.”
That point was May 16, 2022, when Symology’s Professional Services team, led by Marc Buxton, migrated Giganet’s operations from Insight to Aurora. This included all infrastructure, software, service and full implementation.
“The process worked well,” Linacre said. “I was very happy with the solution, and pleased that it was providing the benefits we’d envisaged when we first engaged with Symology."
“After using Aurora for a period, we identified a number of additional Aurora features which would be of benefit to us, including the Aurora app, which we used to carry out inspection of our works. It means our teams can ensure that live sites are compliant, that work is completed to specification and that we can identify any defects which require attention.”
Giganet also created their own bespoke civil inspection type within the app, which helps them ensure works are carried out in line with their specifications.
“Using the Aurora app for inspections was immediately successful,” Linacre said. “We were able to triple the information we’d typically receive from Local Authority inspections, using a combination of Aurora’s standard Utility inspections and our own Civils Specification inspections. This inspection information helps us to monitor our compliance and operations to ensure standards are kept high for works and reinstatements.”
With Aurora for Street Works Promoters live, Giganet has been able to efficiently monitor the lifecycle of their works via a series of dashboard widgets within the system. These widgets can be tailored to each user and their associated workstream.
“As we work with new partners, each contractor using Aurora will have visibility of only their own works in their own geographical area,” Linacre said. “Whereas authorised Giganet users can view all works under their statutory undertaker licence.”
Giganet is also looking to expand their usage of mobile technology, for example potentially using the Aurora app to send start and stop works notices. This would ensure notices are sent promptly – within two hours – which could be very useful in particular at weekends and during bank holidays, when there are minimal back office staff available.
Giganet’s licensed Aurora solution, Aurora for Street Works Promoters, also includes Asset Management capabilities, a feature that the company is looking to explore further to obtain maximum benefit from Aurora and Symology’s years of specialist expertise.
Linacre said the experience of working with Symology had been extremely positive.
“We very much liked that they were upfront and honest with us, and didn’t impose any hidden charges,” he said. “That’s despite the significant challenges they faced along the way – they still provided everything, including the additional services and implementation, at the original quoted price. The result was that everything worked on time, and it’s helping us from an operational perspective as well as for improving reporting.”
At the end of 2022, in recognition of the success of the Giganet/Symology implementation of Aurora, it was shortlisted for Street Works UK Project of the Year.