Category Archives: Business Solutions

Transport Infrastructure Ireland

Driving efficiency improvements in national road surveys

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has deployed a mobile ArcGIS solution to help it automate, standardise and accelerate its annual survey to assess the skid resistance of national roads throughout Ireland. It can now plan and undertake road surface inspections with 20% fewer people, while collecting better data to inform highway improvement programmes.

Mobile inspectors find inspection sites more quickly and collect data more efficiently in the field

Office-based teams don’t waste time printing maps, creating forms, uploading data and filing information

Senior managers monitor and manage progress with real-time insight into the status of surveys

The Challenge

The national road network in Ireland is around 5,300 km long, incorporating multilane motorways and rural single carriageways. Every year, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) is required to undertake detailed inspections of around 1,000 locations nationwide that have been identified as potentially posing an increased risk of skidding in the future. While none of the inspection sites present an immediate threat to safety for the general public, TII has to complete its survey within four months, so that recommendations can be acted upon as part of proactive road maintenance activities.

Known as the HD28 survey, the skidding risk assessment used to be a very manual process, demanding a large amount of staff time. Inspectors would be given print-outs showing maps of the locations of inspection sites and would collect road observations and data on paper forms. Typically, they had a bundle of around 40-50 sheets of paper for a week’s work and wasted lots of time in the field trying to find inspection sites, as well as grappling with paper in wet and windy weather. Many days of effort were also required in the office to plan inspections, print maps, report on the survey’s progress, enter the collected data into central systems and file away the paper forms.

“ The mobile survey app and reporting dashboard were created and deployed in just one day by the TII in-house team, with no need for consultancy support

Brendan Kennedy – GIS Manager, Transport Infrastructure Ireland

The Solution

TII completely transformed its paper-driven HD28 survey process using solutions from Esri’s ArcGIS platform. Using Collector for ArcGIS, the organisation created a mobile app enabling inspectors to see the precise locations of inspection sites on digital maps, collect data in the field using drop-down boxes and upload it directly to Esri’s ArcGIS Online. Critically, the solution works in online and offline modes, so it can be used in rural areas where there is no mobile coverage. TII also used Esri’s Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS to create a live reporting interface for management at TII to monitor the progress of surveys.

Remarkably, TII was able to create this entire solution incredibly quickly, due to the “ease-of-use and flexibility of ArcGIS,” according to Brendan Kennedy, GIS Manager at TII. “The mobile survey app and reporting dashboard were created and deployed in just one day by the TII in-house team, with no need for consultancy support,” he says.

A key advantage of the ArcGIS-based solution is that the app can be used by employees on their own devices, including mobile phones not owned by TII. Users simply download the app and log in with a secure user name and password. “We didn’t have to purchase and deploy tablets or make any other hardware investments, which kept the cost down,” says Kennedy. “We can also flexibly introduce more people to the survey team from our regional offices, when necessary, to help us meet targets.”

 

 

“ Due to staff changes, we have around 20% fewer personnel and yet can still complete the HD28 survey programme within the required timeframe

Tom Casey – Head of Pavements, Construction Materials & Innovation, Transport Infrastructure Ireland

The Benefits

Efficiencies improved by 20%
As employees no longer have to manually plan their surveys and transfer their survey findings from paper to electronic systems, individual efficiencies have increased by around 10-20%. Indeed, TII estimates that six employees each save one month per year as they do not have to print, file, upload and manage hard copy forms and maps. “Due to staff changes, we have around 20% fewer personnel and yet can still complete the HD28 survey programme within the required timeframe,” says Tom Casey, Head of Pavements, Construction Materials & Innovation at TII.

Greater speed and flexibility in the field
Using the ArcGIS mobile app, inspectors waste less time trying to find sites and can complete nearly twice as many inspections in a typical day. “When the process was paper based, I would get through around 7 to 8 inspections per day; with the app I usually do around 15 inspections per day,” estimates Stephen Smyth, Senior Manager for the Pavement Asset Programme. As all the data inspectors need is always with them, on their phones, they can carry out surveys on a more flexible, impromptu basis, at short notice, when they are already in the area, without having to return to the office to collect the necessary paperwork, which significantly improves their efficiency.

Real-time oversight of survey programme
Previously, TII employees had to develop weekly reports on the status of the survey for senior managers. Now, however, real-time information is available on demand, online, allowing managers to monitor and manage the survey process more effectively. “We can identify regions where perhaps an additional inspector is needed to complete a job list and better allocate resources around the country to ensure that the survey is completed as quickly as possible,” Kennedy explains.

Better decisions about road maintenance
The GIS-driven process improves the accuracy and consistency of the survey data collected, which in turn helps TII to make better informed decisions about interventions and restorative roadworks. The organisation can incorporate skid resistance improvement works into other planned road improvement programmes in the same area, reducing the cost of interventions, minimising disruption for road users and maintaining the safety of roads for years to come.

 

 

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The Internet of Things – Why Location Matters eBook

The Internet of Things – Why Location Matters

How location transforms raw data into actionable intelligence

eBook

We are moving rapidly to an ever more connected world and the opportunities for the Telecommunications industry are significant, from new connectivity offerings based on dedicated IoT infrastructure to participating in the data market and the creation of new applications. At the core, since everything happens somewhere and all the things in the IoT have a place, location information is pivotal to maximising the potential and in particular to transforming raw data into valuable, actionable intelligence.

The ‘Internet of Things; Why Location Matters’ ebook is essential reading for understanding this potential, from management of mobile industrial assets and crowdsourcing air quality monitoring to targeted mobile advertising, smarter refuse collection and the Smart Home. It is an essential guide for telecommunications businesses to understand how to leverage the location information that will be the key to realising potential revenue streams from the IoT.

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Quocirca Geospatial Intelligence eBook

Quocirca Geospatial Intelligence

On The Move

eBook

Mobile GIS enables improved customer service by getting the right field worker to the right place as quickly as possible. However the capability extends further, to enable field worker activity and status tracking, which protects their safety and provides insight which allows operations managers to adapt priorities and make the right decisions in response to events on the ground.
Using out of the box GIS mobile Apps has allowed organisations to increase field worker productivity by up to 20%, by enabling them to stay organised, report progress, call for assistance, remain productive and minimise travel. At the same time data quality is significantly improved – if you get the data right first time and at the point of capture then costly errors further down the line are avoided.
In essence, field workers collect data through common or rugged mobile devices and that status information and the data collected is available immediately back at the office, viewable on a real time dashboard. Organisations like Thames Water, Westminster City Council, Colas, Willis Group and many more have seen significant benefits from this approach.
Independent analysts Quocirca investigated this technology and the benefits to organisations adopting it. Their conclusions are set out in this eBook. Download the eBook free now to find out more…

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Education Authority Northern Ireland

Driving changes in school transportation

Parents in Dungannon, Northern Ireland, can now use an ingenious little web app to check if their children are eligible for school bus travel and apply online. The solution, developed by Esri Ireland, has received enthusiastic feedback from families following a highly successful pilot.

Greater convenience and better information for parents

Potential time savings of over 58 days a year, when the app is rolled out nationally

More accurate address information to assist decision making

The Challenge

Among its numerous responsibilities, the Education Authority is required to facilitate transportation for pupils who live more than a stipulated distance away from their allocated grant-aided school. Northern Ireland is a predominantly rural country and, as a consequence, over 90,000 children are eligible for free travel on school buses. Every summer the Education Authority must consider in excess of 25,000 new applications in time for the start of the academic year. It is a very complicated process, which involves measuring the walking distance to school for each individual applicant and ensuring that

all decisions about whether or not to fund transportation are made both quickly and fairly. Until recently, this entire process was driven by information collected and communicated in paper-based forms.

“The time had come to change this,” says Dale Hanna, transport manager at the Education Authority, Southern Region. “We want to make it really easy for parents to find out if their children are eligible for free travel and then submit accurate information for the application process online.”

“ When the GIS web app is rolled out nationally, we expect to save over 58 says a year, which will free up staff to focus on delivering other important educational services

Dale Hanna – transport manager at the Education Authority, Southern Region

The Solution

To help it achieve its goal, the Education Authority approached Esri Ireland and asked it to use Esri’s geographic information system (GIS) technology to create a web-based app that would be mobile friendly and accessible 24/7. Developed using Esri’s ArcGIS Platform, the solution integrates live Ordnance Survey map services and address data from Land and Property Services (LPS).

This ingenious app is now up-and-running as a pilot and available to parents of pupils moving from primary to post-primary education in the Dungannon area. When parents log in, a screen is presented that is already prepopulated with all of the pupil’s details. A map view shows the street where the pupil lives and an arrow marks the assumed location of the house or flat. If the arrow is in the wrong place, parents can simply slide the map using their touch screen or curser to indicate the precise location of the property.

When parents tap the ‘submit’ button, the GIS-based app automatically calculates walking distances. If the pupil is clearly eligible, parents will receive an instant ‘yes’ response, and their application is automatically forwarded to the transportation team.  Equally, if the pupil is evidently not eligible, parents are immediately notified.  In other cases, such as if pupils live in areas marginally outside the eligible distance, the applications are forwarded for more detailed consideration. “It’s beautifully simple, yet a terrific demonstration of the power of digital geography,” says Eamonn Doyle, chief technical officer at Esri Ireland.

“ This app moves our engagement with citizens to the next level and, in doing so, improves the quality of service to our customers

Colm Daly – information manager at the Education Authority, Southern Region

The Benefits

A convenient service for parents
The school transport app has transformed the quality and availability of information for parents. In the majority of cases, parents can get an instant answer to the question ‘is my child eligible for school transport?’  Parents also have the convenience of being able to apply for transportation online, and don’t have to fill in lengthy forms. “The feedback from parents has been very positive,” says Colm Daly, information manager at the Education Authority, Southern Region. “This app moves our engagement with citizens to the next level and, in doing so, improves the quality of service to our customers.”

Greater public confidence
The new online app also helps to give parents a better understanding of the eligibility criteria for school transport and instils greater confidence in the application process. Whereas previously, the Education Authority only received a postal address for applicants in its paper forms, it now receives emails with a precise map and the coordinates of pupils’ homes. “This helps us to make better, faster decisions,” Daly states, adding that, “the app may over time reduce costly appeals.”

Improved operational efficiency
The Education Authority can now operate more efficiently in the pilot area, as it no longer has to waste time processing applications from parents who have used the app and discovered that they are not eligible. “In our Dungannon pilot, 15% of the people who used our app received a ‘no’ response,” explains Hanna.  “We estimate that it takes 10 minutes to manually process a ‘no’ application, so in the pilot phase alone we saved over one working day. Across the whole of Northern Ireland there are around 2500 ‘no’ applications every year. When the GIS web app is rolled out nationally, we expect to save over 58 days a year, which will free up staff to focus on delivering other important educational services. Additional efficiencies are achievable by future advancements in integration with our back office systems.”

Enhanced data quality
One additional, unexpected, benefit has emerged, as Daly explains. “Because parents can correct the locations of their homes on the online map, they are effectively doing quality control on the address data and that’s pretty interesting from a GIS perspective. It means that we can actually go back to LPS and other data providers in the future and supply them with updates. I don’t think that anybody else in the UK or indeed in Europe is doing that right now.”

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Argent

Improving asset management in one of Europe’s largest urban development projects, King’s Cross

Responsible for one of London’s largest ever mixed-use development projects, Argent depends on Esri’s ArcGIS platform to help it manage assets and share information with both internal and external stakeholders. GIS plays a pivotal role in enabling the organisation to schedule multiple simultaneous projects and make critical business and financial decisions.


Case study – Land and Property


The Customer

Argent is a leading property development company. In 2008, it joined forces with London & Continental Railways Limited and DHL Supply Chain to form the King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership (KCCLP) and embarked on one of London’s largest ever mixed-use development projects.

Argent uses Esri’s cloud-based service, ArcGIS Online, to share asset maps with colleagues, partners, contractors and other third party organisations

Users can drill down from maps of the entire development site to individual roads, buildings and pipelines and click for up-to-date project information

A GIS phasing tool allows Argent to scrutinise how the 67 acre site will look at different points in the future and make more informed financial and business decisions

The Challenge

In the heart of London, adjacent to busy King’s Cross and St. Pancras rail station lies 67 acres of brownfield development. By 2020, the area will accommodate 50 new and reused buildings, up to 2,000 homes, 20 streets and 10 public squares, providing a modern environment where some 45,000 people can work, live and study.

Argent is responsible for the development and asset management of this ongoing transformation. Over twenty project managers are working together with a wide range of contractors and consultants, using shared services and facilities in close proximity.

One of the challenges faced by Argent and KCCLP was how to manage large amounts of asset information – and indeed how to communicate this information to different stakeholders within KCCLP and Argent, as well as external partners, contractors and stakeholders.

“ Argent possessed asset maps and plans, but needed the technical capability to share this asset information and the ability to keep pace with constant changes in asset data during the many project phases

Steven Eglinton – Director of GeoEnable

The Solution

Argent called in consulting firm GeoEnable for advice on how to overcome its asset and project management spatial challenges, as part of a wider initiative to improve information management. GeoEnable identified how geographic information system (GIS) technology could play a key role in the solution, alongside new internal business processes.

Argent had a basic desktop GIS solution, which no longer met the needs of the business. Director of GeoEnable, Steven Eglinton, says: “Argent possessed asset maps and plans, but needed the technical capability to share this asset information and the ability to keep pace with constant changes in asset data during the many project phases.”

GeoEnable deployed Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop solution in conjunction with ArcGIS Online for Organisations, Esri’s cloud-based GIS service. Used together, these GIS solutions allow Argent to create dynamic, interactive asset maps locally, and then share them with team members via the intranet. Users can view high level plans of the entire site, or drill down to individual roads, pipelines or buildings and click on the maps linked to the project management database.

Most Argent employees use a web browser to access ArcGIS Online from their desktops. However, a small but growing number employ customised web apps to access the same capabilities from their smart phones and tablets, while away from the office.

“ GIS is a strategic asset management tool for business planning as well as site management

Lilia Wydra – GIS TeaManager at Argent

Benefits

ArcGIS Online provides a complete, accurate record of all assets involved in the King’s Cross development, both installed and planned, and this information is accessible to everyone in the organisation from planners and surveyors to board members. Every week, projects progress and new contractors arrive; all this data is regularly updated in the GIS, so everyone has access to the same accurate information. “It is easy for everyone to get asset information instantly, whenever they need it,” says Argent’s GIS Manager Lilia Wydra.

ArcGIS Online includes a ‘phasing tool’ that enables users to look forward and see how the site might look at different points in time. This feature plays a critical role in helping Argent to make high-level business and financial decisions, as well as project-level decisions. “The asset information that is accessible via ArcGIS Online influences many decisions we make, from how to plan on-site logistics to when to start marketing new homes, offices and retail outlets,” says Wydra. “GIS is a strategic asset management tool for business planning as well as site management.”

At present, the web-based GIS solution is accessible to Argent and KCCLP employees and a limited number of consultants to KCCLP. The company is also working with external consultancies and construction firms on the development site. GIS has significantly improved KCCLP’s ability to collaborate with third parties and helps to ensure that everyone involved in the King’s Cross development is properly informed.

One of the key advantages of having instant access to shared asset information is that it helps to improve record keeping and phasing. By accessing time-aware information users can easily access what is proposed, when contractors are working on site and clearly see when projects are due for completion. This allows better planning and identifies potential clashes. This is a particularly important issue on large projects like the King’s Cross development, where many different organisations are working together in close proximity.

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Sovereign Housing Association

Building a successful and responsible housing organisation

Responsible for 38,000 homes across the south and south west of England, Sovereign Housing Association uses Esri’s ArcGIS platform enterprise-wide to help it address a range of business challenges. The solution helps it to deliver more responsive customer services, better understand the needs of tenants and plan strategically for future growth.

Sovereign Housing Association has extended its use of GIS in a strategic, enterprise-wide initiative that is transforming core business operations. Now, the organisation can deliver more responsive customer services, better understand the needs of its residents and plan more strategically to build new homes.

ArcGIS gives the organisation clearer insight into issues faced by tenants and their property requirements

Sovereign can respond more quickly to enquiries from tenants and deliver better customer service

The organisation uses ArcGIS to reveal business development opportunities and share information with local councils

The Challenge

Sovereign manages and maintains more than 38,000 homes across the south and south west of England. Already one of the UK’s largest housing associations, the organisation aims to grow to 50,000 homes by 2018, to help address the critical shortage of affordable property in this part of the country. It is, however, often difficult to identify suitable development sites that will pass the scrutiny of planning authorities, so Sovereign has to be able to work closely with local councils to facilitate its growth plans.

The housing association currently has more than 80,000 residents in its properties and strives to deliver the best possible services to enable these people to live comfortably and happily in their homes. To consistently achieve a high standard of customer service, it needs an accurate understanding of its residents’ needs and concerns, as well as efficient operations so that it can respond quickly and effectively.

“ When we first used ArcGIS Online in a meeting to highlight potential development sites to a team from a local council, their jaws dropped. It was incredible. ArcGIS has opened up a whole world of opportunity and will certainly help us to achieve our planned growth

Andrew Bradley – GIS Manager, Sovereign Housing Association

The Solution

Sovereign had been using geographic information system (GIS) solutions to manage spatial data for some time, but, in the year of its 25th anniversary, it took the strategic decision to exploit the powerful analysis capabilities of GIS more extensively as part of a wide-ranging business transformation programme. It selected a comprehensive suite of solutions from Esri’s ArcGIS platform, including ArcGIS Server Enterprise Advanced, ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Online, 3D Analyst, Spatial Analyst and Network Analyst and began to apply GIS to pressing business challenges.

At the same time, the organisation decided to extend GIS capabilities out to the whole business, aiming to train 500 employees across all parts of its business by summer 2015. With support from Esri UK’s professional services team, Sovereign built a GIS-based web app to deliver accurate information about properties, assets, land and residents to employees working in all departments ranging from housing services to the customer call centre. Available via the company’s secure intranet, this solution gives everyone in the business instant access to up-to-date business information, all in one place, in an easy-to-use interactive map-based format.

“ ArcGIS is adding value right across our organisation and will continue to do so for years to come. It will enable us to plan and build new homes, work efficiently and deliver better services for residents

Andrew Bradley – GIS Manager, Sovereign Housing Association

Benefits

The enterprise-wide use of ArcGIS has begun to transform the way in which employees work and will deliver long-term benefits for the organisation, as Andrew Bradley, GIS manager at Sovereign, explains. “ArcGIS is adding value right across our business and will continue to do so for years to come,” he says. “It will enable us to plan and build new homes, work efficiently and deliver better services for residents.”

Sovereign employs its new ArcGIS solutions to conduct analysis and gain a deeper insight into business issues and tenant needs. For instance, the company collected data on the incomes and living costs of its residents, at all of its different locations, and performed GIS analysis to ascertain the impact that the government’s new ‘benefits cap’ would have on residents over a period of 5-10 years. When the findings were displayed on a digital map with a time lapse slider, the effects of the new policy became clear. “We could see a wave of impact coming out of London over time and identify easily where and when different types of households would start to struggle,” says Bradley. “ArcGIS is a very powerful tool, helping us to better understand and respond to our residents’ needs.”

The enterprise ArcGIS platform is proving particularly beneficial for Sovereign’s strategic asset management group, a team tasked with identifying and qualifying development opportunities. It has successfully used ArcGIS to pinpoint locations where Sovereign-owned land lies adjacent to under-utilised council-owned land. It then uses ArcGIS Online to share this information with councils and commence negotiations about mutually-beneficial new housing projects. Bradley recalls: “When we first used ArcGIS Online in a meeting to highlight potential development sites to a team from a local council, their jaws dropped. It was incredible. ArcGIS has opened up a whole world of opportunity and will certainly help us to achieve our planned growth.”

Now, if residents contact Sovereign with an enquiry about a boundary, employees can quickly check on the Intranet-based GIS and often clarify issues instantly. Previously, such boundary enquiries had to be passed on to the company’s legal team, and responses could take up to 21 days according to the company’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). “Our employees are empowered with information that they simply didn’t have before,” Alice Rhodes, GIS Analyst at Sovereign says. “Customers get accurate information much more quickly.”

Finally, ArcGIS is enabling Sovereign to improve its operational efficiency, as all employees can share information much more easily. They no longer have to send emails from team to team requesting data and waste time chasing up further details. Instead, they can simply look up the information they need straight away and work more productively.

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Wiltshire Council

Pursuing savings, service improvements and efficiencies

Following the launch of a new data collection solution for mobile workers, Wiltshire Council has identified savings of £275,000, over a five year period, in one department alone. It now plans to roll-out mobile apps to additional business teams in an initiative that is expected to both improve public services and lead to further cost reductions.


Case study – Government


Esri’s ArcGIS Collector app allows teams to collect and edit asset information in the field and makes updates instantly visible to colleagues

Citizens benefit from improved public safety and enjoy council amenities that are more proactively maintained

Plans to extend the use of mobile GIS are expected to contribute to further savings in other departments and a reduction in the council’s carbon footprint

The Challenge

“Everybody matters” according to Wiltshire Council’s well publicised mission statement, and it is this fundamental principle that undoubtedly guides and shapes public services in the county. Like all local government organisations, however, Wiltshire Council has to balance its desire to improve its services with the omnipresent pressure to reduce costs. It also has to consider the environmental impact of its services and minimise its carbon footprint.

The highways team within Wiltshire Council was keen to adopt more mobile working practices to help it deliver a top quality public service more efficiently, and sustainably. The team was working from paper maps in the field and a great deal of time was spent travelling to and from the office, as well as transferring data from paper records to IT systems. Inevitably, data inconsistency issues arose occasionally, and the council didn’t want to risk key decisions being made on asset information that was out-of-date or inaccurate.

“ We have a responsibility to make sure that taxpayers’ money is spent in the best way that it can be. If we are reducing the amount of time and petrol wasted, we can deliver more efficient and proactive services to benefit the population

Julie Seddon – Solutions Manager for Spatial Information at Wiltshire Council

The Solution

Wiltshire Council had been using geographic information system (GIS) technology from Esri UK for the last four years and had an Enterprise License Agreement that gave it unlimited access to Esri’s ArcGIS platform. Therefore, there was no need to invest in any additional software. Matt Rudd and Lauren Wilson from the Spatial Information Team hadn’t developed mobile apps before but, following a one-day JumpStart training programme delivered by Esri UK, they had all the skills and confidence they needed to implement a new mobile GIS.

The solution the council developed specifically for the highways team runs on Samsung tablets and comprises three ArcGIS Collector Apps – drainage, fixed assets (benches, railings, bollards etc.) and play areas. It also includes four supplementary ArcGIS Online Viewer Apps for street litter, grounds maintenance, street cleaning and winter maintenance.

Twenty four highways employees now have access to the mobile apps to identify and plan the areas they wish to survey. Then, once they are at those locations, they use ArcGIS Collector to collect information about specific assets on their tablets, take and save photographs, update records and log changes in the condition of assets as necessary

If highways employees are working in areas with 3G coverage, their asset updates are instantly conveyed to the council’s central GIS. However, when they are working in locations where the mobile signal is poor, such as on Salisbury Plain, their updates are saved on the tablets and synchronised later. Julie Seddon, Solutions Manager for Spatial Information at Wiltshire Council, believes that this capability is critical for successful mobile working. “Wiltshire is such a rural county that offline functionality is absolutely key,” she says.

“ With one central source of master data, we now have up-to-date, accurate drainage and highways asset information that everyone in the council can rely upon. This improves our decision making and, ultimately, the services we deliver to the public

Julie Seddon – Solutions Manager for Spatial Information at Wiltshire Council

Benefits

The Head of Local Highways and Parking Services, Adrian Hampton, calculated that use of the mobile GIS would lead to a £30,000 saving per year on petrol and other travel expenses, as employees no longer have to make so many journeys between the office and the field. Time savings and other process efficiencies contribute a further £24,000 cost reduction, creating a total annual saving of £55,000 or £275,000 over five years. “This is an exceptional result, considering that the highways mobile solution cost just £250 to create in staff time,” says Seddon.

Within months of rolling out the highways solution, it became clear that this practical app could revolutionise the way in which many different council teams worked. The Spatial Information Team therefore started working with other business units, such as emergency planning, and expects to roll-out mobile GIS apps to further teams during the year. The potential five-year savings for the council could therefore increase further in the near future.

Wiltshire Council has yet to calculate the carbon savings that it will achieve from more extensive use of mobile GIS across the unitary authority. However, it is already clear that the reduction in unnecessary journeys and petrol usage will have an important benefit for the environment.

Most significantly, the council has been able to improve its public services, alongside achieving cost and carbon savings. Employees in the highways team can spend more time in the field, managing the conditions of assets, so citizens benefit from better quality amenities like play areas and cycle railings.

Broken equipment can be identified and isolated promptly, so public safety is improved, and the council less exposed to risk. Seddon explains: “If we can proactively capture information about the condition of assets and instigate repairs more quickly, we can reduce claims and safeguard our communities.”

Finally, the highways live master data captured in the field can be shared with all GIS users via ArcGIS Desktop, LocalView Fusion or ArcGIS Collector within the council. “With one central source of master data, we now have up-to-date, accurate drainage and highways asset information that everyone in the council can rely upon,” Seddon enthuses. “This improves our decision making and, ultimately, the services we deliver to the public.”

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National Grid: Gas Distribution

Re-energising a business with fully integrated GIS systems

National Grid has rolled out Esri’s ArcGIS platform as part of a business transformation programme that is expected to lead to cost savings of around £35 million per year. Up to 5,000 employees now use ArcGIS to work more productively, improve operational efficiency and make better informed decisions.

– Gas Distribution –


Case study – Gas


The Customer

National Grid plc is one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world. It owns and operates gas distribution assets, which deliver energy to millions of homes and businesses right across Great Britain and the North East USA.

National Grid’s Gas Distribution business has replaced 40 business systems with just four – one of which is ArcGIS – to simplify and optimise its systems landscape

The organisation is saving time and improving its overall efficiency in areas including network design and data capture in the field

The integration of GIS with SAP eliminates data duplication and makes more accurate information available to support decision making

The Challenge

In an industry that is heavily monitored and increasingly competitive, the judgments of the regulator are of utmost importance. Ofgem’s comparator ratings of National Grid’s Gas Distribution business had fallen significantly behind those of its UK peers. Furthermore, National Grid’s customer satisfaction statistics in this division were also lower than both its own expectations and the industry average.

These factors together provided National Grid with compelling evidence of the need for change in its Gas Distribution business. The company wanted to urgently improve its standing with Ofgem, but it also had to start to prepare for the new challenges it would face in the future.

Pete Massey, Director of the company’s Gas Distribution Transformation Programme, explains: “We were not performing as strongly as our peers in the industry, but this wasn’t our only concern. We saw that the world was changing to be much more customer focused, more innovative and cost-conscious. This new world that we were moving into was going to be even more challenging and would stretch our capabilities to the limit, so we knew that we had to transform.”

“ Most of our activities are location based, so we could see we needed to get more of our processes on digital maps and make GIS capabilities accessible to employees right across the business

Pete Massey – Director of Gas Distribution Transformation Programme, National Grid

The Solution

As a core part of its business transformation, National Grid took the radical decision to reduce its business systems from forty to four to create a simplified, standardised and integrated systems landscape. National Grid had been using Esri Geographic Information System (GIS) solutions for many years, and this was the only solution carried forward to the new IT environment. Here, Esri’s ArcGIS software was integrated with the SAP Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system, the SAP Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) and Syclo mobile applications.

The organisation recognised that Esri’s ArcGIS technology was the most intuitive way for users to work with network asset information, so it decided to make mapping technology accessible to the majority of its 5,000 UK employees, including its customer call centre staff and mobile engineers. “Most of our activities are location based, so we could see we needed to get more of our processes on digital maps and make GIS capabilities accessible to employees right across the business,” Massey says.

“ We have reduced a complex nine-step business process to six integrated stages, which has improved our efficiency significantly

Pete Massey – Director of Gas Distribution Transformation Programme, National Grid

Benefits

National Grid has succeeded in fundamentally changing the way that it works. It has redesigned many of its most critical business processes, to significantly improve cost efficiency and employee productivity. National Grid estimates that its entire transformation programme will deliver a cost saving of £35 million per year. “The use of GIS is a key part of this saving and provides new insights into our asset and business performance,” Massey says.

Previously, National Grid created designs for network extensions and replacements on paper and then manually generated the corresponding work orders. Now, engineers design new networks directly on maps in ArcGIS, and the work orders are produced automatically from these digital designs. “We have reduced a complex nine-step business process to six integrated stages, which improves our efficiency,” says Massey. “Our new integrated process also enables us to improve the accuracy of our cost estimates and cost tracking, create more precise network designs, make planned network changes more visible to the entire business and reduce the likelihood of manual errors.”

The use of ArcGIS on portable computers enables National Grid’s mobile engineers to locate assets and jobs much more easily and work more productively. If the ‘as-built’ infrastructure differs from the network plan, data capture technicians can easily mark up any changes on the asset map while in the field. These changes are sent automatically to a central quality assurance team and, from there, asset updates are fed directly into SAP. “The whole process is much slicker and a lot more efficient,” says Massey.

The integration of GIS with SAP eliminates data duplication and inconsistency and makes more accurate asset information accessible to support decision making. Highly intuitive, the GIS design solutions and simpler business processes have been a hit with employees.

“ The whole process is much slicker and a lot more efficient

Pete Massey – Director of Gas Distribution Transformation Programme, National Grid

The Future

National Grid is now considering the creation of online mapping solutions and GISbased ‘apps’, enabling consumers to more easily check the status of works in their neighbourhoods, book appointments and report faults. These new customer services, together with the efficiency and process improvements already achieved, are expected to lead to higher Ofgem rankings, stronger performance against industry peers and rising customer satisfaction.

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WSP Global

Creating an informed enterprise

Engineering company WSP Global has used Esri’s ArcGIS platform to make spatial data and GIS capabilities accessible to 2,800 employees in its UK business. This enterprise-wide solution, named iGIS, helps the company to work more efficiently, save money and deliver a higher quality of service for its customers.


Case study – Private Sector


The Customer

WSP Group plc is a global management and engineering consultancy. Whether designing, building or maintaining roads, bridges or civic amenities, knowledge of the built and natural environment is essential to their business and that of their clients.

Consultants can arrive on site better informed and produce high quality presentation materials, helping to improve customer service

The company saves money by eliminating unnecessary duplication and data management costs

iGIS allows employees to work more productively, so tasks that used to take hours can now be completed in a fraction of this time

The Challenge

When planning new road links, staff need to know the location of existing transport routes and centres of population; when designing new amenities, they need to know what environmental constraints might exist. The challenge was to make this information readily available to support staff in their day-to-day role.

Previously, WSP had a single data repository (including Ordnance Survey, NAVTEQ and demographic data), but used two different Esri tools for working with it: ArcIMS for around 100 non-specialist users, and ArcGIS Desktop to provide advanced functionality to around 300 specialists. WSP wanted to make data available to all 2,800 employees, irrespective of location and level of GIS expertise. Consequently, any new system had be intuitive and easy-to-use.

“ We wanted to give our employees easier access to maps and enable them to obtain the geographic information they need without having to ask a GIS specialist 

David Edem – UK GIS Manager at WSP

The Solution

Esri’s ArcGIS Server was identified as the best solution, partly because the Flex API (Application Programming Interface) in v9.3 makes it easy to create customised mapping applications, combining web services from ArcGIS Server with other web content, for delivery over an intranet or the web.

In addition, WSP chose Google Maps API Premier to provide access to background mapping and Google AJAX Search API for location finding.

Within four months, WSP developed a corporate mashup called iGIS to deliver GIS services to its UK employees. It integrates Google base maps and location services with the WSP’s geographic data assets and the powerful geo-processing capabilities of ArcGIS Server, which makes many terabytes of data instantly accessible across the entire UK operation.

The result is a user-friendly mapping application that allows users to perform such tasks as query population statistics by area, undertake proximity searches, sketch site boundaries and print maps on demand.

“ iGIS is rapidly becoming an essential business tool that is used regularly by a wide range of employees 

David Edem – UK GIS Manager at WSP

Benefits

Adoption was rapid (760 staff in the first fortnight and more than half the 2,800 UK staff within months) and the benefits too.

Data and functionality previously available to a few specialists is now available to all, taking GIS to new areas of the business. The intuitive iGIS interface, coupled with standard templates for figures and plans, has enabled GIS novices to produce high quality work for clients, including simple site location plans, analysing the demographics of an area, or undertaking complex spatial searches.

What previously took hours to pull together is now available in a fraction of the time, which is important in a business where many projects are charged on an hourly basis. iGIS allows WSP consultants to arrive on site with better knowledge of likely ground conditions and to offer a quicker, lower cost and higher quality service to clients.

ArcGIS Server has revolutionised data management: by having a central online data catalogue, WPS has saved money by eliminating unnecessary duplication and monitoring group spend more effectively to negotiate better rates.

Directors at WSP have been very impressed: “This is an exciting development of our GIS capability, which will materially improve the speed and efficiency of the delivery of a wide range of our project technical activities, calculations and presentation material,” says Mike Sheehan, Director, WSP Group. “iGIS helps to keep WSP competitive and stand out in the marketplace.”

Driven by positive feedback from staff and high demand, WSP plans to expand iGIS in the UK by adding further datasets and functionality and to roll it out globally across the entire group.

Recent improvements include adding new environmental and cultural heritage datasets and there are plans to add a geological map library catalogue showing where paper-based mapping has been purchased and where it is held.

In addition, WSP plans to use ArcGIS Server to develop value-added services for clients, whowill be able to access their own data, analyse the results, drill down into layers of information and print their own maps, all via a secure login.

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