A new App has been launched by East Lothian Council to help residents and visitors find information and report matters requiring environmental health action.

The app which is available to download on mobile phone and other handheld devices can be used to alert the council to issues such as fly-tipping, abandoned vehicles, noise nuisance, food safety, housing conditions or any concerns in relation to public health and the environment.

The decision to develop and implement the app by the East Lothian Council Environmental Health Service had a number of drivers behind it:

1. Growing demand for environmental health services from an increase in number of enquiries and public complaints. This is due to an increasing number of East Lothian residents from a number of new neighbourhoods being built in line with the Local Development Plan. Therefore, the Service required a technology solution that would help with demand management and also facilitate channel shift.

2. Ease of use for members of the public and staff. It was critical that whatever solution the Service implemented should be simple to use, both for members of the public and also for Environmental Health Officers. Users also needed to find the system easy and intuitive to use, as well as quick. The Service also wanted people to be able to contact them whilst on the move so the solution they implemented needed to be accessible via a web interface, mobile phone or other handheld device.

3. Encourage users to use self-service options wherever possible. Due to the increasing demand on the Council’s Environmental Health team, the Service saw an opportunity to encourage channel shift by offering customers a self-service process online. The aim was to enable people to help themselves wherever possible, thus freeing up the team to focus on higher public health risk activities, more vulnerable customers, more complex enquiries and those less able to help themselves.

4. Response and Evolution – the mobile channel is the preferred communication tool of many people within the community. It ensures that the Service keeps up with customer technology access habits in order to best capture local issues that can be addressed timeously. The Service is aware that this project requires ongoing development and in order to best capture feedback, a feedback form is available on the app. Suggestions can be implemented very quickly. Depending upon its success, it is envisaged that the app will offer more Council Services over time.

“We receive a significant number of enquiries from the public alerting us to issues which require investigation and action by the council,” explains

Derek Oliver, Service Manager for Environmental Health explained “Many people, of course, are happy to contact us by telephone or email. But in this day and age it’s rightly expected that you should be able to engage with councils and other organisations through digital technology.

“East Lothian is a special and fantastic place to live and work – and we all want to play our part in keeping it that way. The council has many staff out and about throughout the county working hard to deliver our essential services and maintain an attractive and clean county.

“There are occasions when local residents or indeed visitors are first to spot issues requiring our attention. My East Lothian enables you to alert us to something encountered or spotted on your travels – whether it’s an abandoned vehicle or fly-tipping. You can submit photographs – and use the interactive map that pin points the exact location of concern, which means we can see exactly what and where you’re reporting and respond as quickly as possible

“But it’s not just about reporting information to us. You can use the App to access a wealth of information about different services and find out what’s happening in the area. With many attractions and fantastic local events, we hope this will be useful to residents and visitors alike.”