The council works closely with districts to use resources and deliver services more effectively, and is sharing more information with the public online.
“ArcGIS Server is very reliable for us. It also makes it very easy to develop web interfaces”, says Mark Smith of the GIS team. “All the web applications we’ve built refer to the same core set of data, which ensures no duplication and that our work is accurate… We’ve also made it possible to edit this data on the fly. So if one person makes a change, a user of another application can be sure they’re using that same, updated data.”
Developing web-based interfaces is quick, cost-effective and flexible, without the additional licensing costs of developing desktop solutions. The council shares map data with districts through Web Mapping Services (WMS): “We simply broadcast it. It allows applications and other organisations to consume our maps and data without the need for further development”, explains Smith. The benefits are impressive and award-winning:
Encompass won the 2010 Innovation and Best Practice (Local Public Services) Award from the Association for Geographic Information. “Now we can see everything that relates to a right of way in a single location”, confirms Jaine. This means “we never do something like dig up a path one month only to have to re-dig it up the next”.
With Total Place, “We’ve identified opportunities for co-location of police and fire stations”, says Miles. “And by seeing where all available training facilities are, both public and private, it’s easy to share them and save costs or improve service.”
“Warmer Worcestershire” was an instant success, with a survey showing a quarter of respondents had heard of the project, of whom 30% had then insulated their loft, 21% had cavity wall insulation and 6.5% applied for heating grants. Emergency Planning Officer Mike Warner explains that the integration between Frameworki and GIS means “We can brief the right people very quickly. We can plan how we might handle something… We’re now partnering with other councils to show them how they can create the same system that we have.”
The council is using online GIS to inform and serve the public better: Staff and residents can view and log the precise location of problems. “Thanks to GIS access via the website, council staff can focus on other tasks”, says Smith.
“My Local Area” gives a simple, web-based view of everything in a locality, including reported faults, schools, leisure facilities, and areas of environmental importance.
In 2009, the council generated a live map of election results. “This is a perfect application of GIS, as it really made election progress easy to follow”, says Smith.
Local map data is now available online, overlaying new and old data. “Some of this data is hundreds of years old”, says Smith. “Putting it online through GIS aids research into our past, and shows clearly how these locations have developed over time.”