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We rely on ArcGIS to help it allocate over £1 billion of National Lottery and Exchequer funding to projects that will most benefit communities.

Helping the nation create a sporting habit for life

Focused on encouraging and enabling more people to participate in sporting activities, Sport England uses Esri’s ArcGIS platform to help it make fair and appropriate decisions about where to allocate funding. The organisation also uses GIS to make valuable information available to partners, so they can accurately assess demand for sports facilities in their local areas.

The Customer

Sport England is focused on helping people and communities to create a sporting habit for life. Between 2012 and 2017, it is responsible for investing over £1 billion of National Lottery and Exchequer funding in sport delivery organisations and projects across the country.

Sport England relies on ArcGIS to help it allocate over £1 billion of National Lottery and Exchequer funding to projects that will most benefit communities

Partners, such as local authorities, use GIS-based services provided by Sport England to help them understand demand and tailor their sports provision

Use of Esri UK’s Premium Data Services reduces costs, saves time and improves map quality for Sport England

The Challenge

In what is a central part of its role, Sport England collects extensive information on sport participation and sport provision. It is critically important for the organisation to be able to interpret and evaluate this data, as it supports its goals in two key ways.

Firstly, Sport England needs to be able to visualise and analyse its data, to help make fair and appropriate decisions about where to allocate funding, ultimately ensuring that the right sporting opportunities are established in the right places.

Secondly, the organisation needs to make this data and analytical tools accessible to its many delivery partners – including local authorities, national governing bodies for sport, community groups and leisure centre operators – so that they can better understand needs within their sport or community, develop strategic plans and obtain evidence to support their funding bids. “Our partners see us as a leading figure in the sporting landscape, because of the accuracy and completeness of the data we collect,” says Mark Critchley, GIS Manager at Sport England. “We want to be able to provide back to them value added services so that they can make informed decisions.”

“ Our partners see us as a leading figure in the sporting landscape, because of the accuracy and completeness of the data we collect. We want to be able to provide back to them value added services so that they can make informed decisions

Mark Critchley – GIS Manager, Sport England

The Solution

To support these goals, Sport England has used geographic information system (GIS) technology to develop a range of internal and partner-focused tools. These solutions are predominately based on Esri’s ArcGIS platform and offer different capabilities and services for specific groups of users.

Internally, GIS is used by employees in three directorates: facilities and planning; research and insight; and grants management. Example solutions include the integration of a tailored interactive Flex mapping component to the organisations planning application system allowing Planning Managers to review consultations in the context of other applications and grants already provided nearby, whilst ArcGIS for Desktop is used by a small number of experts to support ad hoc mapping and spatial analysis requests from across the organisation.

Externally, an example GIS solution for partners is Active Places Power. This free-to-use website enables users to view and analyse current, comprehensive sport facility data via an intuitive interface with interactive maps. The tools on the web site range from simple reports to a first-of-its-kind dynamic catchment area analysis capability to profile facilities, clubs and population characteristics within a defined travel time or distance of any given location in England.

A second external service available to partners is a bespoke off-line spatial model, called the Facility Planning Model, which partners can use to determine whether the sport facility provision in an area of interest is sufficient for demand among the local population. “What if scenarios can be run in this GIS based model, to assess possible outcomes if the supply of sport facilities or demand in an area were to change,” Critchley explains.

In order to deliver the majority of their GIS based services, Sport England and their contractors use Esri software. In addition a subscription to Esri UK’s cloud-based Premium Data Services provides Ordnance Survey mapping data pre-prepared in a format that is ready-to-use in ArcGIS. Critchley says: “We and our contractors have access to a single source of accurate, up-to-date mapping data that we can use for many different solutions, significantly reducing data management overheads.”

“ Esri UK’s Data Services have significantly reduced our data management overheads, freeing up time to deliver business-focused solutions

Mark Critchley – GIS Manager, Sport England

Benefits

By using ArcGIS to visualise and analyse the spatial relationships between multiple datasets, Sport England is able to make better decisions on where investments will have the greatest impact. As well as helping it to distribute funding, ArcGIS supports Sports England in its statutory duty to respond to planning applications that affect playing field land.

Equally as important, ArcGIS also enables Sport England to make its valuable data assets accessible to partners. These external organisations can easily perform analysis and extract relevant information to help them understand sports provision in an area, tailor sport offerings and provide the evidence base for funding bids.

For an organisation with a very small in-house GIS team, Sport England delivers a wide range of GIS services – and it attributes this success in part to its use of Esri UK’s Data Services. “It can be a challenge to deliver a vital corporate service with limited resources,” says Critchley. “Esri UK’s Data Services have significantly reduced our data management overheads, freeing time to deliver business-focused solutions.”

Prior to subscribing to Esri UK’s Data Services, Sport England had only been able to make use of a small number of mapping data sets. “We only used the data that we felt we could relatively easily manage, and that prohibited us from taking some of the big, complicated data sets, such as Ordnance Survey MasterMap,” Critchley says. “Now we can access more data sets and better mapping to deliver high quality GIS services both to internal staff and partners.”

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