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The ‘Invite a Neighbour’ training concept provided a cost effective and collaborative training forum for GIS professionals in the local area, helping us develop new skills.

Reducing costs and carbon emissions with a shared approach to training

To support its imminent migration to Esri’s ArcGIS platform, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council arranged for three members of staff to receive professional training from Esri UK. The local authority took advantage of Esri UK’s ‘Invite a Neighbour’ on-site training scheme to reduce its costs, minimise carbon emissions and gain fresh inspiration for new council services.


Case study – Training


The council saved over £1,600 on a training course for three delegates, while also reducing carbon emissions

Delegates improved their skills enabling them to develop new GIS web services

Joint training provided a collaborative forum for sharing ideas with other local GIS professionals

The Challenge

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council was no stranger to Esri’s geographic information system (GIS) technology. Indeed, it had been using solutions from Esri UK for over twenty five years. The organisation was now in the process of migrating to Esri’s latest ArcGIS platform, to give it access to new, more versatile web- and cloud-based GIS services. It realised that this pivotal technology upgrade had the potential to significantly transform the way in which it used GIS to deliver services for citizens.

Given the vital importance of the new GIS platform, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council recognised that it would be beneficial for its GIS specialists to receive ArcGIS training. It wanted to ensure that it had the skills in-house to optimise its use of the new GIS platform, but, like all public sector organisations, it had a limited training budget. Consequently, it feared that the costs associated with paying for employees to travel to a training venue and providing overnight accommodation would make the training course prohibitively expensive.

“ At a time when councils are trying to make cost savings and lessen their carbon footprint, the ‘Invite a Neighbour’ training concept really makes sense

Robert Curtis – GIS Systems Administrator, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council

The Solution

The council was already familiar with Esri UK’s on-site training courses, a pragmatic option for organisations looking for a more cost-effective way to train up to twelve employees. It liked the idea of being able to receive training at its own offices but, as it only planned to train three members of staff, it didn’t think this would be feasible. Then the Esri UK training team mentioned its ‘Invite a Neighbour’ programme, a scheme that makes it easy for GIS teams to invite other nearby businesses to join their on-site courses and share the costs and benefits of local, cost-effective training.

Through its participation in a networking group, ‘Hampshire GIS’, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council was able to quickly establish that there were GIS professionals at other public sector organisations locally who were also interested in receiving ArcGIS training. Esri UK helped liaise with these organisations and handled all of the necessary course administration, maximising convenience for Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council as the host business.

Held in a meeting room at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s offices, the two-day course provided valuable instruction in how to use ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Online to create a range of different web services and publish maps on the web. Twelve delegates from seven different organisations attended, and the experienced Esri UK trainer brought all the course materials and exercises pre-loaded on laptop computers.

“ We have gained both the inspiration and skills to advance our use of GIS in the future

Robert Curtis – GIS Systems Administrator, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council

Benefits

Cost savings for multiple organisations
The shared approach to training enabled seven public sector organisations to reduce the costs associated with training. Robert Curtis, the GIS Systems Administrator at Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council, says, “When the cost of the course fees, avoided travel and accommodation for three delegates is taken into account, we estimate that we reduced our anticipated training expenditure by over £1,600. The other attending organisations would have made similar savings.”

Reduced carbon impact
The course also enabled the participating councils to minimise their impact on the environment. “At a time when councils are trying to make cost savings and lessen their carbon footprint, the ‘Invite a Neighbour’ training concept really makes sense,” says Curtis. “It enabled us to reduce our training costs, avoid unnecessary expenditure on accommodation and minimise our carbon impact by shortening journeys.”

Greater convenience for delegates
As the training was held at a location not far from any of the participating organisations, delegates were away from their offices for no longer than was absolutely necessary, without wasting any personal time. “When I did a different training session previously, I had to give up my Sunday afternoon to get there in time for Monday morning and didn’t get back until late on the Wednesday evening,” Curtis recalls. “With this course, no-one had to give up their free time, as it was much like a normal working day.”

Improved services for citizens and employees
Most importantly, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council now has the new GIS skills it needs, enabling it to commence the next chapter in the story of its long use of Esri GIS technology. Initially, the council plans to use the new features and capabilities of ArcGIS to redevelop a number of internal and external map viewers that will provide employees and the general public with improved access to local information.

Inspiration for the future
Curtis believes that the course helped to strengthen the local network of Esri users and gave everyone the opportunity to collaborate more closely with local government colleagues facing similar challenges. “As the other course participants were all people we knew, who worked for similar public sector organisations, the training course gave us a great opportunity to share ideas,” he says. “We have gained both the inspiration and skills to advance our use of GIS in the future.”

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