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Amsterdam City Council

How do you improve enforcement in a large city with seven city districts each using a different computer system? The answer is a mystery. One system works better. By choosing the broad-based uniformity provided by Sigmax’s CityControl, the Enforcement & Supervision Service in the Municipality of Amsterdam has entered a new era.

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Working with one system: great progress for enforcement in the capital 

The chaos of the enforcement structures built up over the years caused functionality issues for Amsterdam. The three different systems and five working methods created barriers for roughly 450 civil enforcement officers in the capital. Each city district had its own realm when it came to ICT, which meant the enforcement solutions were inconsistent. A consequence of this was that the various districts did not share enough information, resulting in a fallible and inefficient enforcement process.

From closed information silos to smooth information sharing   

It was almost impossible to exchange information. Finding out how many tickets had been issued for the various penalty codes required exporting data from each individual system. “We could not be action-oriented”, says a spokesperson from Amsterdam City Council. “Suitable tools are required to execute policy effectively.”

With the abolishment of the sub-municpalities in the city, both policy makers and the civil enforcement officers felt the need to change to a uniform system. After an extensive European tender process, during which Amsterdam thoroughly assessed various parties, Sigmax was chosen as the supplier in 2016. With CityControl, all civil enforcement officers were provided with the same software within a very short period. As well as the civil enforcement officers on the street with their smartphones, backoffice staff, managers and analysts all work with the same system. And this means, as of now, they can create and share summaries with increased speed, resulting in a more efficient deployment of staff.

CityControl enables Amsterdam to enforce the penalty for nuisance in the public spaces (‘Wet bestuurlijke boete overlast in de openbare ruimte’ – BBOOR). Read more about this new functionality.

Effects of information-driven enforcement are visible  

Not all citizens are keen, but the efficiency of the system means more penalties are issued, states the City Council. “The system works well, it makes issuing a penalty easier and faster than before.” Up until now, some civil enforcement officers wrote tickets by hand, or the devices failed. “This now works properly and in one go”, explains Amsterdam City Council.

The arrival of CityControl also enables Amsterdam City Council to use a warning system. This new function is very useful. “We can give a clear warning without issuing a ticket”, explains the spokesperson. Furthermore, observations are registered in the mobile software. “We assess whether situations are OK or not OK, and include a brief explanation and/or photo.” This enables enforcement officers to create a digital file, without the incident leading directly to issuing a penalty for an offence; examples are nuisance caused by scooters at night in shopping centres and making agreements with businesses about waste disposal. By making observations and registering them over a longer period of time we can decide on that basis whether to issue a penalty. This means situations are assessed more fairly, explains the spokesperson. “It works smoothly now.”  

The switch to CityControl, that is prepared for information-driven enforcement, enables Amsterdam to work reactively but also preventatively. With the system’s historic data and analytical possibilities, the information shared among civil enforcement officers can be used to identify situations requiring additional deployment, for instance. Specific tasks can also be shared. For example, the enforcement officers at an event in one city district can learn quickly from a previous, similar large event or even (almost) simultaneously.

Project leader Arjan van den Noort from Sigmax looks back in satisfaction at the rapid commissioning of CityControl in Amsterdam. “We are proud to have been able to supply hard- and software as a total solution so quickly”, he says, “The amount of work we had to supply beyond the original scope was minimal. That underlines the quality and completeness of the current CityControl product.”

Expansion of tasks

In Amsterdam, besides individuals, companies are also issued penalties with the new software. “For individuals, we use the new devices to scan someone’s driving licence, for example, to retrieve details through the Netherlands Vehicle Authority (RDW). The challenge for us with businesses was identifying the director through the Chamber of Commerce, because you can’t simply issue a penalty to someone at the cash register. With the link to CityControl we can also meet this requirement.”

CityControl is applied to enforce no fewer than 19 themes in the city of Amsterdam, which results in an exceptional mix of tasks. “Issues around hospitality, prostitution, taxis and Airbnbs demand unique approaches. We also decided to implement the civil penalty, with consequences for the tasks of the civil enforcement officers”, states the municipality. CityControl fulfils the needs of enforcement officers within their jobs. “There were sometimes complaints about the number of tasks and the work load; but now there are more resources and possibilities for doing the work.”

CityControl transforms modus operandi

From experience, the municipality knows how difficult it is to introduce changes that are also linked to new working methods. “We got positive comments from those wanting to work with increased efficiency.”  Civil enforcement officers and backoffice staff used to be busy for hours after their shift inputting tickets. “Now, we can save data in real-time on the spot this saves everyone time. And it demonstrates that Sigmax provides a well-thought out product”, says the City Council.


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