Information about "SLOW DOWN" speed signs around the city

Hugh Davenport made this Official Information request to Wellington City Council

Response to this request is delayed. By law, Wellington City Council should normally have responded promptly and by (details and exceptions)

From: Hugh Davenport

Dear Wellington City Council,

Several weeks ago I emailed a concern about the settings of a SLOW DOWN sign installed in the 30km/h zone on Willis st between Mercer st and Chews lane that was configured for a higher speed limit than 30km/h, encouraging drivers to drive over the speed limit in that area.

For clarification, the sign I mean is a large box installed on poles that displays the current speed of vehicles coming towards it, and when the vehicle is travelling over a set speed (usually the speed limit but not in this case) the bottom of the display will flash "SLOW DOWN".

As this hasn't been fixed, and it appears that the council is not planning on fixing it quickly, I would like to request the following information to see how far spread the problem is:

I would like to request any policies the council have for installing these signs, or any policies the council have for changing speed limits within the city.

If the policies do not have anything in regards to configuring the speed on the signs during installation or when a speed limit changes, then I would like to know what the council are doing to ensure their policies contain instructions for the Traffic Engineers to ensure that the signs are always configured with the actual speed limit.

In addition, for each of these SLOW DOWN signs installed in the city, I would like the following information:
- The location of the sign
- The date the sign was installed
- The speed limit at the location the sign is installed
- The date the speed limit was set
- The configured speed for the installed sign
- The date that the sign was configured with the current speed
- If the configured speed does not match the current speed limit, then a timeframe on when the council is planning on correcting the configuration to reflect the actual speed limit.
- Whether the above policies (in regards to installation of the sign, or changing of the speed limit) were followed when the sign was installed. If they were not followed, then what is the council doing to ensure that the policies are followed in the future.

I would also be interested in the time required for a sign to have its configured speed changed on. If it is a short timeframe, then an explanation on why the sign installed on Willis St has not been resolved after 2 weeks, and what the council are doing to ensure that safety concerns are fixed promptly.

Yours faithfully,

Hugh Davenport

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From: BUS: Assurance
Wellington City Council

Dear Hugh

Thank you for your email dated 21 August 2019 requesting information about "SLOW DOWN" speed signs around the city.

Our team will manage your request under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 which requires us to respond as soon as possible, but no later than 18 September 2019.

The reference number for your request is IRO-8928.

Please contact us if you have any further questions.

Kind regards

Jessica Hall
Assurance Services Coordinator  | Wellington City Council
| W Wellington.govt.nz | |

The information contained in this email is privileged and confidential and intended for the addressee only.
If you are not the intended recipient, you are asked to respect that confidentiality and not disclose, copy or make use of its contents.
If received in error you are asked to destroy this email and contact the sender immediately. Your assistance is appreciated.

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Hugh Davenport left an annotation ()

I note that the original sign I reported has been silently fixed (they haven't replied to me saying they did). Will be interesting how many other signs around the city are misconfigured and what they are doing about it.

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From: BUS: Assurance
Wellington City Council


Attachment IRO 8928 Davenport Slow Down Signs.pdf
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Attachment Electronic Speed Signs.xlsx
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Dear Hugh

Please see attached response to your request dated 21 August 2019 regarding the slow down speed signs.

Should you require anything else, please let me know.

Kind Regards

Asha Harry
Assurance Advisor | Complaints & Information Assurance | Wellington City Council
P +64 4 9171002 | E [email address] | W Wellington.govt.nz |
The information contained in this email is privileged and confidential and intended for the addressee only.
If you are not the intended recipient, you are asked to respect that confidentiality and not disclose, copy or make use of its contents.
If received in error you are asked to destroy this email and contact the sender immediately. Your assistance is appreciated.

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From: Hugh Davenport

Dear BUS: Assurance,

Thanks for that. I believe the engineer contacted me about the sign after the LGOIMA request was made. I don't believe that they decided to pick up the job a month after it was reported just because they were suddenly free, but I believe that they picked it up as there was public pressure on the council to fix it after this LGOIMA request was made. In future, it would be ideal if work was done around the city *without the need for a public LGOIMA request*. For example, when I made the FiXiT request, so say it should take 3-5 working days to get worked on. This doesn't quite explain why it took 15 working days, which is 3 times longer than your expected timeframe. If I didn't make a LGOIMA request, I would imagine that it would still not be resolved. The council really need to step up here and become more efficient at dealing with requests around the city.

Now, as for your response, you are missing quite a few fields that I requested. This needs to be provided by COB today. You were missing:
- The speed limit at the location the sign is installed
- The date the speed limit was set (though given your caveat listed, I am assuming this is just the installation date for all of the devices)
- The date that the sign was configured with the current speed (again, assuming this is the installation date given the caveat listed)
- If the configured speed does not match the current speed limit, then a timeframe on when the council is planning on correcting the configuration to reflect the actual speed limit.
- Whether the above policies (in regards to installation of the sign, or changing of the speed limit) were followed when the sign was installed. If they were not followed, then what is the council doing to ensure that the policies are followed in the future.

Also, your date format is a bit confusing, does Aug 18 mean 18th August 2019, or just at somepoint in August 2018? I'm happy not having a day, but it is a bit confusing.

For example, with site ID SI440-1, Manners St, south of Chews Lane, you have listed a installation date of Aug-12. I can't find it exactly, but it appears that the speed limit was set for the road earlier than that. However, the date it was configured with 30km/h was after August 26th 2019, 7 years after installation. At the time of my request the configured speed was not 30km/h, so was incorrect for 7 years. I'm sure that by the policy you listed was not followed correctly during the installation of the sign, otherwise I'm sure you will agree that the policy is not complete enough to ensure that the devices are installed correctly with the correct speed limit.

I would like first all the data I requested by COB today (when this request is due).

I would like to also make a separate request specifically about site ID SI440-1.
During the 7 years since installation of this device in August 2012 (please amend this if the date is incorrect, see my note above about misleading date format), this device had the incorrect speed limit configured that differed from the posted speed limit of 30km/h. I would like to request:
- The speed limit it was set to prior to August 26th 2019
- The date it was last configured prior to August 26th 2019
- If the speed limit was configured multiple times during its 7 year history, then:
* The dates the speed was configured
* The speed it was configured with
* The posted speed limit at the site location (I assume this is 30km/h for the entire history)
- All records the council have about this particular device being configured incorrectly (ie, fixit requests, communication (verbal, email, written, social media) from the public, internal communication regarding this device).
- Any information held regarding the calibration check on this device last December (2018)
- Any actions made in response to the calibration check on this device last December (2018)
- An explanation why this sign was still misconfigured after the calibration check last December (2018)
- If the device had a calibration check multiple times during its 7 year history, then:
* The dates of the calibration check for this device
* Any information regarding the calibration check on this device
* Any actions made in response to the calibration check for this device
* The speed it was configured to at the time of calibration (before any alterations made)
* The posted speed limit at the site location (I assume this is 30km/h for the entire history)
* An explanation why the device was still misconfigured after the calibration check.

Yours sincerely,

Hugh Davenport

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From: Hugh Davenport

Dear BUS: Assurance,

Just letting you know that the missing data that I requested is now overdue. Can this please get provided today, otherwise I will start escalating this process. I'm sure the council is aware that they are currently breaking the law under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act.

Yours sincerely,

Hugh Davenport

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From: BUS: Assurance
Wellington City Council


Attachment IRO 8928 Davenport Slow Down Signs Follow Up Response.pdf
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Attachment Electronic Speed Signs.xlsx
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Dear Mr Davenport

Please see attached response for your follow up questions.

Kind Regards

Asha Harry
Assurance Advisor | Complaints & Information Assurance | Wellington City Council
P +64 4 9171002 | E [email address] | W Wellington.govt.nz | |

The information contained in this email is privileged and confidential and intended for the addressee only.
If you are not the intended recipient, you are asked to respect that confidentiality and not disclose, copy or make use of its contents.
If received in error you are asked to destroy this email and contact the sender immediately. Your assistance is appreciated.

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From: BUS: Assurance
Wellington City Council

Dear Mr Davenport

Thank you for your email dated 18 September 2019 regarding the electronic slow down speed signs.

Your questions relate specifically too:

I would like to also make a separate request specifically about site ID SI440-1.
During the 7 years since installation of this device in August 2012 (please amend this if the date is incorrect, see my note above about misleading date format), this device had the incorrect speed limit configured that differed from the posted speed limit of 30km/h. I would like to request:
- The speed limit it was set to prior to August 26th 2019
- The date it was last configured prior to August 26th 2019
- If the speed limit was configured multiple times during its 7 year history, then:
* The dates the speed was configured
* The speed it was configured with
* The posted speed limit at the site location (I assume this is 30km/h for the entire history)
- All records the council have about this particular device being configured incorrectly (ie, fixit requests, communication (verbal, email, written, social media) from the public, internal communication regarding this device).
- Any information held regarding the calibration check on this device last December (2018)
- Any actions made in response to the calibration check on this device last December (2018)
- An explanation why this sign was still misconfigured after the calibration check last December (2018)
- If the device had a calibration check multiple times during its 7 year history, then:
* The dates of the calibration check for this device
* Any information regarding the calibration check on this device
* Any actions made in response to the calibration check for this device
* The speed it was configured to at the time of calibration (before any alterations made)
* The posted speed limit at the site location (I assume this is 30km/h for the entire history)
* An explanation why the device was still misconfigured after the calibration check.

Our team will manage your request under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 which requires us to respond as soon as possible, but no later than 16 October 2019.

The reference number for your request is IRO-9084.

Please contact us if you have any further questions.

Kind regards

Asha Harry
Assurance Advisor | Complaints & Information Assurance | Wellington City Council
P +64 4 9171002 | E [email address] | W Wellington.govt.nz | |

The information contained in this email is privileged and confidential and intended for the addressee only.
If you are not the intended recipient, you are asked to respect that confidentiality and not disclose, copy or make use of its contents.
If received in error you are asked to destroy this email and contact the sender immediately. Your assistance is appreciated.

Asha Harry
Assurance Services Coordinator | Wellington City Council
| W Wellington.govt.nz | |

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From: Hugh Davenport

Dear BUS: Assurance,

Thank you for that.

The spreadsheet you provided on 18 September (https://fyi.org.nz/request/11026/respons...) has for column G the data for "ELECTRONIC SIGN INSTALLATION DATE", not the speed limit at the location of the sign as you are trying to suggest. Perhaps you meant column F which has "SET/CONFIGURED LIMIT", which I assumed meant the configured limit on the device.

For point 3, you have said that the date was set to the configured speed at the time it was installed. This is false, as site ID SI440-1 had its configured speed set at some point after after August 26th 2019, 7 years after the installation date of August 2012. Can you please provide the correct data. This is now overdue.

For example, I asked for the following data:
- The location of the sign. I believe this is listed in columns A-E of the latest spreadsheet with headings "SITE ID", "SUBURB", "STREET #", "STREET NAME", "LOCATION DESCRIPTION".

- The date the sign was installed. I believe this column H of the latest spreadsheet with the heading "ELECTRONIC SIGN INSTALLATION DATE".

- The speed limit at the location the sign is installed. I believe this is column G of the latest spreadsheet with the heading "SET/CONFIGURED LIMIT".

- The date the speed limit was set. I believe this is column F of the latest spreadsheet with the heading "DATE THE SPEED LIMIT WAS SET FOR THE ROAD", and also a further explanation of the gaps in the latest response letter.

- The configured speed for the installed sign. This does not appear to be in the spreadsheet. You seem to be making the assumption that this is the same as the posted speed limit you have put in column G, however as shown by the Manners St device, this had a different configured limit to the posted limit, hence why I asked for both to see how widespread the issue of misconfiguring the devices is.
******* THIS IS OVERDUE, CAN THIS PLEASE BE PROVIDED BY LAW *****

- The date that the sign was configured with the current speed. You have said in your recent letter that this is the same as the installation date. However as shown by the Willis St device, this was only recently configured in 2019, NOT in 2012 when it was installed.
******* THIS IS OVERDUE, CAN THIS PLEASE BE PROVIDED BY LAW *****
**** A further note on this. You have said in your recent letter that you allude that all the devices were checked in December 2018 and 14% needed to be reconfigured. This brings up two concerns, one which is my follow up request is why the Willis St device was not reconfigured at this point given it was not correct, and the other is if 14% were reconfigured in December 2018 then why are you saying "The date the electronic sign was configured to the current speed is the same date that the signs were installed." Clearly 14% of your devices were configured to the current speed in December 2018. I see no devices in the latest spreadsheet that were installed in December 2018, so clearly the dates are not identical for 14% of the devices. ***

- If the configured speed does not match the current speed limit, then a timeframe on when the council is planning on correcting the configuration to reflect the actual speed limit. Given the above, once you confirm that all the devices are currently configured to match the posted speed limit, then you can properly respond to this request. It may be that they all are configured correctly now, and my follow up for the specific issue with the Willis St device will be sufficient. However it may be that they are not all configured correctly now, and I would like a response to this request in that case. Given you have withheld data, the public can not be sure which it is except for specifically the Willis St device.
******* THIS IS OVERDUE, CAN THIS PLEASE BE PROVIDED BY LAW *****

- Whether the above policies (in regards to installation of the sign, or changing of the speed limit) were followed when the sign was installed. If they were not followed, then what is the council doing to ensure that the policies are followed in the future. Your most recent response alludes to the fact that the policy was followed correctly, however some devices were misconfigured (potentially for 7 years). Can you please confirm that the policy was followed correctly for each of the devices in the list.
If the council is absolutely positively certain that the policy was followed correctly, then I would like to make a request to ascertain what the council is doing to modify the policy it uses to ensure that devices are not left misconfigured for 7 years (or at all).
******* THIS IS OVERDUE, CAN THIS PLEASE BE PROVIDED BY LAW *****

As you can see, there is still data missing. If you honestly believe that you have provided all the data requested, can you please let me know what columns I should be looking at for the following:
- The configured speed for the installed sign
- The date that the sign was configured with the current speed (again, assuming this is the installation date given the caveat listed)

Once you have provided the data I requested, then please provide a proper response to the last two points, as noted the response you have given is most likely false.

Yours sincerely,

Hugh Davenport

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Hugh Davenport left an annotation ()

Email to CEO, Director of Legal & Risk

Hi Keven and Hayley,

I'm writing to you today in your capacity as the Chief Executive and Director of Legal and Risk of the Wellington City Council.

On August 21 2019, I made a request under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (LGOIMA), which is available to read at https://fyi.org.nz/request/11026-informa.... Under the LGOIMA, the council is required by law to respond as soon as possible and before September 18 2019. This date has passed, and the request is now overdue.

The request is regarding some speed devices installed around Wellington that display the speed of a driver and the text "SLOW DOWN" if the driver is over the configured speed limit of the device. A few months ago, I noticed that a device close to my office appeared to have the incorrect speed configured on the device, such that the "SLOW DOWN" message did not display when the driver was over the posted speed limit. After a month of the council not fixing it, I made a LGOIMA request which made this issue public, and suddenly the sign was fixed.

I should note, from the partial information the council has given me, it suggests that this device was misconfigured for 7 years.

In the above description, I'm sure you can see that the two different speeds, configured and posted, should be identical, but they unfortunately are not for at least one device. In addition, you could probably deduce that there are two different dates, an installation date and the latest configuration date. For the device I raised a report about originally, this was installed in 2012, but configured to the correct speed in 2019. 
In the councils response to my request, the council seemed to just not provide two key bits of information:
- The configured speed for the installed sign
- The date that the sign was configured with the current speed.

After the incomplete data was provided to me, I reached out the council official that was dealing with the request, who simply replied again without the missing data. 

For the first point, they suggested that for all the devices, the configured speed was the same as the posted speed, which should be correct in an ideal world, but it has been shown it wasn't for at least one device, and I made this request to determine how widespread that issue is.

For the second point, they claimed that the installation date of the device is the same as the date the device was configured with its current speed. However, as mentioned before, one device was not configured correctly, and was infact configured with its current speed in 2019, NOT in 2012 when the device was installed. So clearly for at least one device, the installation date is not the same as the date the device was configured with the current speed. In fact it was 7 years before the device was set with the correct speed.
Further to this, the council have also said that in December 2018, 14% of the devices were reconfigured. However, if all the devices were configured with their current speed at the installation date, and no devices were installed in December 2018, then these 14% of devices must have been installed at a date earlier than December 2018, and configured with their current speed in December 2018.
Given these two things, clearly the installation date is not the same as the date the device was configured with the current speed, which contradicts the response the council has given.

Now, given that this poses a bit of a safety issue, and is showing negligence of the councils responsibilities as a Road Controlling Authority in Wellington, this causes a bit of a concern for me that the council is actively trying to cover up the fact that they are not abiding by the law.

Can you please ensure this missing data is provided to be by COB 20th September 2019. If the council fails to do so, I will make yet another complaint to the Ombudsman about the councils failure to meet the responsibilities under the LGOIMA.

Cheers,
Hugh

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Hugh Davenport left an annotation ()

Email to CEO and Director of Legal & Risk

Hi, 

Just a reminder that as I have not received a response from the Chief Executive team regarding the failure to follow the responsibilities laid out under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act, I will be laying a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman in half an hour. 

I would have hoped that the council take their legal responsibility with more seriousness, and allow the council to be transparent in the declarations they make. It seems I was yet again too hopeful. 

While this case will be investigated further by the Ombudsman, I would urge the council to not waste more public time and just respond to the request. 

Cheers, 

Hugh

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Hugh Davenport left an annotation ()

Complaint laid with the Ombudsman:

Hi,

I made a request to WCC about some information regarding some traffic safety devices due to a concern that one in particular was not configured correctly. My request was made on August 21 2019. You can find the request at https://fyi.org.nz/request/11026-informa....

My request was basically for 6 pieces of information:
- The location of the sign
- The date the sign was installed
- The speed limit at the location the sign is installed
- The date the speed limit was set
- The configured speed for the installed sign
- The date that the sign was configured with the current speed.

In addition, I had two clauses which requested information if any of the above information showed that the council had further safety devices that were misconfigured:
- If the configured speed does not match the current speed limit, then a timeframe on when the council is planning on correcting the configuration to reflect the actual speed limit.
- Whether the above policies (in regards to installation of the sign, or changing of the speed limit) were followed when the sign was installed. If they were not followed, then what is the council doing to ensure that the policies are followed in the future.

On September 18, Asha Harry from WCC responded with a spreadsheet with 3 of the 6 items I requested. Specifically they did not respond with:
- The posted speed limit at the location
- The date the speed limit was set
- The date the device was configured with the current speed.
They also claimed that all devices were tested in December 2018, and 14% were reconfigured as they were misconfigured.

I note that this was the last day the council could legally respond by. I would imagine that the council is not respecting the LGOIMA's requirement to respond "as soon as reasonably practicable" and instead once again they chose the 20 working days as a target, not a deadline.

I replied to the Assurance team regarding the missing information and followed up with a further request. For the purpose of this complaint, please ignore the further request, and only focus on the original request with the missing information.

On September 19, I reminded the council that the request was overdue. Asha Harry then responded again, explaining the following:
- The posted speed limit data was already present. I had mistaken the heading "set/configured limit" as the configured speed limit. Given the council are now saying this is the posted speed limit, the council is still missing the configured speed limit data.
- The dates of the posted speed limits were set is now included
- The council also incorrectly states that the date the device was configured with the current speed is the same as the installation date for all devices.

Now, for a bit of context around why I believe the information they have provided is false. In particular one of the devices (site ID SI440-1, installed on Willis St south of Chews Lane) was part of my original communication with the council regarding its misconfiguration. This device was mentioned in the councils first response saying that it was fixed by configuring the device to the correct speed. So, for that device, it was installed in 2012, but it was last configured in 2019. Clearly the dates are not identical.
In addition, in the councils both first and second response, the council admitted to inspecting all the devices and reconfiguring 14% of these devices in December 2018. For these devices, the configuration date would be December 2018, however, none of the devices have an installation date of December 2018, so clearly the dates are not identical.

I replied to the Assurance team outlining the information I have received, linking the information from the column headers in the supplied spreadsheet back to the original request. In doing so, I explained that the following information was still missing:
- The configured speed for the installed sign
- The date that the sign was configured with the current speed

In addition, as they have not given enough information to determine whether the last two requests for information are relevant, they have also not properly responded to the following:
- If the configured speed does not match the current speed limit, then a timeframe on when the council is planning on correcting the configuration to reflect the actual speed limit.
- Whether the above policies (in regards to installation of the sign, or changing of the speed limit) were followed when the sign was installed. If they were not followed, then what is the council doing to ensure that the policies are followed in the future.

After hearing nothing back from the council, and having prior experience with the council failing to uphold their responsibilities under the LGOIMA, I emailed Kevin Lavery (CEO), and Hayley Evans (Director of Legal and Risk) explaining the situation and the missing information and the councils lack of responses regarding my concerns for the missing information. At this point the request is overdue by 1 working day. In my email I explained that I would give them the opportunity to respond within the next working day, otherwise I would escalate to the Ombudsman.

As I have not heard anything back from the chief executive team, I am of the opinion that the Wellington City Council do not respect their legal obligation to provide information requested by the public under the LGOIMA, and as such am laying a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman.

My complaint against the council includes:
- Delay in responding to the request "as soon as reasonably practicable". It appeared as if they treated the deadline as a target, not as a deadline. This does not align with the spirit of the Act.
- Mishandling of the response. Multiple times they tried to provide incorrect and misleading information, and ignored any further correspondence outlining why the response was incorrect.
- Failure to provide a response. As of August 19, I am still waiting for some the information I requested on August 21. This is now overdue 2 working days.

The information I want is to determine whether the council is taking their responsibilities as a Road Controlling Authority seriously, given that one of the devices was misconfigured (and potentially was for 7 years). My request was aiming to determine how widespread the misconfiguration of safety devices was around the city.

Cheers,

Hugh

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