Validating vouchers: Mandalay Technologies

To help councils reduce risks and save funds, Mandalay Technologies is educating local government authorities on managing community waste collection vouchers.

As part of their waste collection services, many councils provide residents with vouchers for annual self-haul disposal in addition to kerbside collection services.

Traditionally, these vouchers are printed on paper and mailed out to homeowners or available on request.

Often it can cost thousands of dollars to ensure these vouchers are only used by the intended recipient and not copied or forged. To help local governments handle potential risks involved with this process, Mandalay Technologies is helping councils increase transparency, reduce the risk of fraud and provide valuable data on current waste collection systems.

Simon Kalinowski, Chief Executive Officer of Mandalay Technologies, says that one of the issues local governments face is the lack of consistency between them.

If a voucher system isn’t managed properly, potential costly risks can become apparent. One example is when vouchers are not protected from methods of copying or duplication, which can lead to a black market developing, where vouchers are sold unofficially to a small business or others to avoid paying commercial fees.

“Primarily, we want to help councils find a system that works for the specific needs of their communities and waste collection practices. This means taking approaches that don’t completely exclude paper, but instead allow for people to digitally self-serve for the type of voucher that is easiest for them,” Simon says.

Waste collection services are a valuable resource to the community and have a cost to provide. Simon says that in cases like the Queensland waste levy which will impact the cost of disposal, it is important to ensure the services are handled properly to manage funds.

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Understanding which best practice approach to use will allow a council to make the most of their valuable services, which is why Mandalay Technologies has released a series of webinars.

This webinar series aims to educate local governments about four key areas of voucher management: accuracy, liability, program control and examples of systems that have worked well.

In one of the webinars, Simon says that while researching a case study, he had found an example of one council that had saved a potential quarter of a million dollars by identifying a liability in their system.

“The ability to properly audit the voucher system and work closely with the council’s property and rates team allowed them to stop instances of misuse,” Simon adds.

Analysing the efficiency of different methods of voucher issue and management is another topic that the webinars tackle, looking at how changing methods of community communication have affected the systems.

“Mailouts of vouchers often accompany mailouts of rates notices. However, as more councils adopt digital rates systems, mailing costs lead to a substantial increase in costs for waste departments,” Simon says.

“Mandalay’s webinars will educate councils on potential business cases that are fit for purpose and get vouchers in the hands of waste generators, especially as multi-unit dwellings and renting becomes more common.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 30.9 per cent of Australians are currently renting. However, vouchers will often be sent to the land or home owners instead of the residents themselves.

The webinars also aim to educate councils on how behavioural data and analytics can be used to improve management systems digitally and assist them to rethink how they can be applied. An example of that might be using a digital voucher to target a specific area in response to a storm event. Using technology like this can be achieved efficiently and cost effectively.

Simon says the experience is an eye opener for local government, with the additional information from digital systems providing extra tools and services for the community.

“A digital system provides valuable data to a council. It’s possible to learn more about who is redeeming the vouchers, when they’re being redeemed, how the system is used and a number of other auditable measures to target entitlements,” he says.

“Sending out a leaflet with a $50 dollar voucher doesn’t provide you with any of that data. It’s difficult to tell whether the person redeeming a voucher is the same person who received it. All you can really tell is the redemption rate, which may be quite small as it is not a targeted move.”

“Because councils are often on the front lines when it comes to educating and changing resident behaviours, having access to the hundreds of data points available through the use of digital systems means they’re able to design effective campaigns to manage waste.”

To participate in Mandalay’s Voucher Management webinar series, register your details at www.naus.com/voucher-webinars.