Managing one of the largest highway departments in New York State takes a lot of work, and Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) has put all of it in the palm of his hand.
As of Jan. 5, the entire department went paperless with a new electronic work order system and by the end of that month, foremen in the field either updated or closed more than 1,500 work orders using a mobile app on town-issued iPads. In an exclusive interview with TBR News Media, Losquadro and his team said the Brookhaven highway department has raised the bar for municipalities across the state.
“To me, this is nothing short of transformative,” Losquadro said. “Improving efficiencies of the highway department has been one of my priorities since taking office three years ago.”
In the past, Brookhaven residents hoping to see something as simple as a pothole being repaired in front of their home would need to file a work order, which an office staffer would enter into a computer, print out and then deliver to a foreman, typically taking five to seven days before resolution. But now, the highway superintendent said, the information can be shared almost immediately.
“We owe that to our customers, because they deserve the response that a customer from any business should get,” Losquadro said, referring to his Brookhaven constituents.
The new paperless system capitalized on already existing geographic information systems the town had invested in over recent years to help create one cohesive platform, allowing town employees to view, update and create work orders in real time, from the field. And through each step of development, Losquadro said foremen and town workers who would be using the technology on a daily basis provided their feedback.
Matt Sabatello, who works in the town’s tech department, worked alongside a dedicated crew of in-house developers to grow the mobile application and make it accessible for all town employees. With more than a decade of experience working with the town already under his belt, Sabatello said he has seen the arc of technological advancement go into overdrive under Losquadro’s direction.
Some of the interactive features Losquadro and his team helped to launch over the past year included color-coded visual queues identifying outstanding work orders, a display of all open work orders prioritized by the date created and a new “follow me” GPS-enabled feature that could be used to identify problem areas as well as track town vehicles when they are out in the field.
“If you see something, create a work order,” Losquadro said, playing off the Metropolitan Transportation Authority slogan, “if you see something, say something.”
And the efficiencies stretch far beyond a run-of-the-mill pothole fix, too. John Giannott, a senior administrator with the highway department, said the mobile technology has made Brookhaven’s response time to serious weather events such as severe snowfall nearly two hours quicker.
“We keep finding new uses for this every day,” he said. “It puts you ahead of the curve, because all your assets are tracked.”
The “green” technology has also allowed the town to apply for state grants and emergency relief funds in a more efficient way, making Brookhaven that much more equipped for more green.
Looking ahead, Losquadro said he hoped to see other facets of Brookhaven government follow suit in implementing such technology. He said he has already seen an interest from the town board to use similar platforms to track constituent complaints.
“I had a vision of how I wanted to transform this department,” he said. “Working with them allowed us to move to this point in less than three years.”