Mobile Capture streamlines food safety inspection for Dunedin City Council

Dunedin City Council supports a population of 120,000 and is one of New Zealand's largest territorial authority areas. Environmental Health staff at Dunedin City Council (DCC) are charged with protecting and improving the health of the city’s residents.

Staff regularly check restaurants, cafes and other businesses, which sell food to ensure that good food safety practices are in place and that the business is keeping records that demonstrate food safety. This means that the public can visit their favourite food premises and know that the food is safe, while food business operators know they’re complying with their legal food safety obligations.

Multiple page paper checklists were used for every food premises visited, then written reports were produced and usually a hard copy was posted to food business operators.

DCC wanted a greener approach, so going paperless and reducing the carbon footprint were key objectives. Environmental Health staff were keen to minimise their use of paper files and checklists, but also to find a way to get information flowing back to food business operators in a more timely and efficient way – ideally without paper!

Datacom worked with DCC’s Environmental Health and key IT staff, along with Gallus Counsulting to build a food premises verification checklist that would be used on any mobile device – tablet, phone etc. The form was built to meet legal reporting obligations, but also to communicate key information and feedback direct to Dunedin’s food business operators in a user-friendly way.

Using Datacom’s Mobile Capture solution, the verification checklist can be used offline on a mobile device, with photos, signatures and notes all being gathered on the spot. All information then syncs automatically once the staff member is back online.

The checklist then produces standardised reports for both food business operators and government agencies at a click of a button.

DCC estimate that Environmental Health staff have become more efficient in their work, particularly in terms of time taken per premises to complete reports and get these to food business operators.

Reports pre-populate with information gathered onsite, which has resulted in greater consistency amongst staff for reporting and information capture. Reports are now emailed as much as possible, resulting in a reduction in DCC’s carbon footprint.

Datacom’s Mobile Capture also enables staff to incorporate photos into their reports, and annotate them when required to ensure food business operators know exactly the areas they need to work on.

Administration staff no longer have to process hard copy files one by one and load food verification results onto DCC databases. Results are instantly dropped into the database once a checklist is completed – a big time saver!

From a DCC customer perspective, the ability to send automated text messages or email reminders to food businesses to advise them of upcoming visits to their premises has been very well received by food business operators.

“Our customers too have noticed the difference with one emailing to specifically congratulate us on going paperless and appreciating the speed at which they received their verification report – within an hour of the officer visiting them onsite, complete with specific photos and information of areas they needed to work on. Now that is service at its best!”  said Tanya Morrison, Environmental Health Officer, Dunedin City Council.