Tag Archives: Case Study

Greater London Authority

Meeting rising demand for school places across London

In a ground-breaking project initiated by the London Mayor’s Office, the Greater London Authority has launched an online atlas of London schools, across its 33 London boroughs. The unprecedented clarity of information in the atlas will help the capital meet rising demand for school places, as well as allow families to make better-informed decisions when selecting schools.

London boroughs can understand the cross-boundary flow of pupils to better anticipate demand for school places

Education providers have evidence to justify their funding applications for new schools and expansion projects

Families can see consistent information about all schools and make the right choices for their children

The Challenge

In just eight years’ time, by 2025, London is predicted to need as many as 160,000 additional school places. This phenomenal growth is significantly faster than any other area of the UK and presents a significant challenge for the 33 London borough councils, which are responsible for providing school places in the capital. The complex relationship between population growth and demand for places varies hugely by location and over time, as ‘bubbles’ of growth can work their way through the school system. Understanding the picture spatially is vital because as many as 20% of young people cross borough boundaries to go to school each day.

The picture is similarly complex for parents in the capital who have to decide which schools to apply for or which new area to move into. Although some local authorities publish guidelines or catchment maps, their approach varies, making it difficult for parents to compare the likelihood of getting into different schools and the onward flow from primary schools to secondary schools.

“ ArcGIS gave us the robust platform we needed to openly share the findings from the Mayor’s Educational Inquiry recommendations

Paul Hodgson – GIS and Infrastructure Manager, Greater London Authority

The Solution

Recognising these challenges, The Mayor of London launched an Educational Inquiry and recommended the pan-London collection and analysis of data about school places. The Greater London Authority (GLA) used Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop solution in combination with other products to analyse anonymised data from the National Pupil Database, which comprises information on 8 million pupils, gathered over a five year period. “There aren’t that many systems which can handle the breadth and complexity of pupil and location data that we wanted to analyse and visualise,” says Paul Hodgson, GIS and Infrastructure Manager at the GLA. “ArcGIS gave us the robust platform we needed to openly share the findings from the Mayor’s Educational Inquiry recommendations.”

The organisation then used ArcGIS Server and JavaScript to create a customised, highly intuitive and interactive online map to display its data. This map, named the London Schools Atlas, shows for the first time the areas where pupils from particular schools live, historic catchment areas and feeder schools. Parents can click on their address and select a nearby school to see not only what percentage of children from their area attend this school, but also view the exam results and Ofsted inspection grades for this school and even calculate the journey time by foot or public transport.

The GLA supplemented the London Schools Atlas with data on birth rates, moves in and out of the capital, building developments and other factors that will have an impact on the net growth in pupil numbers in the period 2015-2025 to create graded maps that clearly highlight those areas of London where additional school places will be required in the future, to support critical education planning.

“ One of the GLA’s core missions is to provide strategic coordination across London. This project is a good example of how the GLA is fulfilling that role and adding value for Londoners

Paul Hodgson – GIS and Infrastructure Manager, Greater London Authority

The Benefits

Clear information for parents and carers
Following the launch of the London Schools Atlas, parents and guardians have a single point of reference for consistent, accurate information about all primary, secondary and specialist schools in London. They can access the interactive map from any desktop, tablet or mobile device and easily find the information they need to ascertain the probability of getting places at different schools. “There’s often a lot of anecdotal information at the school gate about how close you have to be to schools to get a place and which secondary schools primary pupils generally feed into,” Hodgson says. “The London Schools Atlas enables parents to make informed decisions when making and ranking their six school choices as part of the school application process.”

Accurate evidence to support future planning
Critically, The London Schools Atlas gives London’s 33 borough councils the evidence they need to approach the Department of Education for central government funding for new schools and school expansion projects to meet the population growth. Likewise, free school groups and academies can use the data presented in the London Schools Atlas to make sure that their proposals for new schools are in the right locations to fulfil projected demand. “It has been estimated that 4,000 new classrooms of 30 children will be needed in London over the next ten years, but not all in the same place at the same time,” Hodgson remarks. “The London Schools Atlas helps all education providers to understand at a local level, where and when places are required.”

Added insight coupled with reduced administration
Education managers working within borough councils now have added insight into demand for school places in their boroughs, because, for the first time, they can clearly see the cross-border flow of pupils. The project also saves time in education departments in boroughs right across the capital, because, as Hodgson says, “instead of publishing schools information 33 times in 33 different formats, it is just done once.” Indeed, individual boroughs will now be able to spend less time looking for and analysing information and can focus instead on meeting pupil needs and raising education standards.

Exemplary public sector coordination
In many ways, the London Schools Atlas is a beacon of best practice for London, as it demonstrates how the London Mayor’s Office and the GLA can provide leadership to improve efficiency and optimise public services in the capital. Hodgson says: “One of the GLA’s core missions is to provide strategic coordination across London. This project is a good example of how the GLA can fulfil that role and add value for Londoners.”

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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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Aylesbury Vale District Council

Transforming citizen engagement by shifting to digital channels

After reviewing its current reporting system, used by residents to report issues and concerns, Aylesbury Vale District Council utilised Esri UK’s professional services expertise to create a new and improved online reporting model. Not only delivering a better service to its citizens but also making vital resource and cost savings.

More efficient reporting of problems – fewer queries, errors and wasted trips

Improved service to residents – easier online reporting and faster resolution of problems

Reduced contact volumes – by avoiding duplicate reporting and minimising clarifications

The Challenge

Engagement with residents to maintain and improve their quality of life is a critical aspect of Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC)’s work. ReportIT is a mechanism by which issues or problems can be reported by residents, for action by the council. The system covers a broad range of concerns, from abandoned vehicles and antisocial behaviour to fly tipping and the safety of young people.

This important activity was found to be labour-intensive and potentially error-prone. The review of ReportIT identified several factors contributing to inefficiencies:
Reported problems often lie outside the council’s jurisdiction. Residents can be unaware of council structures and responsibilities, so would raise concerns to AVDC that were actually the responsibility of a different council.
Problems were being reported multiple times. Residents had no indication whether a problem has already been reported, so it would be reported again, causing duplication of effort.
Contractors resolving problems often attended the wrong location or needed to visit the site repeatedly, leading to wasted time and cost. This was because the reporting form did not capture all the information, including precise location, needed for first time resolution.
Residents like to be kept informed, but provision of regular updates was time consuming.

As part of its transformation journey, AVDC is adopting a ‘New Business Model’ which will remove such inefficiencies. The council identified that by shifting the primary contact channel to a new online reporting system it could:
1. Reduce the number of inbound contacts.
2. Reduce the cost of processing each report.
3. Improve feedback to residents.

AVDC had a suitable technology platform – ArcGIS Online from Esri, but cuts had meant that it did not have the resources to create the new solution. Furthermore, cost savings were needed quickly, so time was of the essence.

“ The new ReportIT solution has significantly improved the quality of information we are able to obtain on the initial contact enabling us to make improvements in our handling time for each individual report

Debbie White – Interim Customer Relationship Team Manager, Aylesbury Vale District Council

The Solution

The council contracted an Embedded Product Specialist (EPS) from Esri UK, chosen for their deep knowledge of the capabilities of ArcGIS Online. The EPS used standard templates to quickly create two vital applications:

1. Reporting tool. Esri UK’s QuestionWhere Builder enables a questionnaire or survey to be built around location-based questions. The EPS used QuestionWhere Builder to create a suite of forms, one for each type of problem being reported. A built-in map ensures that the location of the problem is correctly identified and that the problem falls within the regional boundaries of AVDC. Each report includes all the information a contractor needs to resolve the problem.

2. Analysis dashboard. AVDC’s communities and customer services teams needed a simple, visual way to monitor activity and identify any problems needing action. The EPS created a map-based visualisation that enabled the teams to query by boundary area, class of report and thus identify patterns and resolve issues.

Rather than write an exhaustive specification, the EPS used rapid prototyping techniques to create demonstration versions that gave AVDC a quick view of what was possible. The council provided immediate feedback to the EPS who, based in the council’s offices, implemented any changes there and then. This iterative approach kept the project on track and shortened development timescales.
The EPS also trained key IT staff from AVDC to use the tools, create new reports, edit existing reports, and maintain and develop the solution going forward. The whole project was completed in just five days.

“ Having the Esri UK EPS on site meant that we could try out different approaches and rapidly iterate the solution. The new ReportIT tool is already having an impact on our operations and thanks to the training from the EPS, we now have the capability to adapt our solution as needs change in the future

Debbie White – Interim Customer Relationship Team Manager, Aylesbury Vale District Council

The Benefits

Speed
The EPS helped AVDC rapidly assimilate the latest technology. Reporting and resolution processes are now smoother and faster as there are fewer queries, errors and wasted trips.

Flexibility
The council’s requirements are sure to evolve over time and it is well equipped to change the functionality of the solution as needed in the future. Yet AVDC is not dependent on permanent IT resources for ongoing development and support.

Improved service to residents
Residents can now report problems and track progress at a time of their own choosing. Their concerns and problems are now resolved by AVDC more quickly and with minimum need for discussion.

Reduction in contact volumes
The map-based tool helps residents report correctly – so that AVDC does not have to process reports that are outside its jurisdiction. Costly duplicate reporting is avoided and further questions and clarifications are minimised.

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Thames Water

Improving the efficiency and quality of asset maintenance

Thames Water, the UK’s largest water and wastewater services provider, has cut the time required to survey a pipe bridge from 7-10 days to 2-3 hours, while also improving data quality. Consequently, it can now implement a proactive, condition-based maintenance programme to significantly reduce costs and enhance customer satisfaction.

Thames Water has rapid access to accurate, consistent and complete data on thousands of pipe bridges

Maintenance jobs can be prioritised based on condition and planned proactively to reduce pipe bursts

Employees and contractors can perform pipe repairs more cost efficiently and safely

The Challenge

Throughout London and the Thames Valley region there are over 5,000 bridges that convey fresh or waste water pipes over roads, rivers, canals and gorges. Thames Water wanted to implement a more proactive programme of repairs and upgrades to improve the condition of these bridge-based assets, but did not have a complete, centralised source of information about them that it could use to inform its maintenance planning.

Previously, pipe bridges had been surveyed by Thames Water’s regional teams using paper-based sheets in the field. Employees then typed up their surveys when they returned to the office, wasting time with the potential of manual data entry errors. By centralising its pipe bridge survey process, Thames Water aimed to furnish its master asset database with accurate information on all 5,000 pipe bridges and filter out regional variations in the type and quality of data collected.

“ With Esri UK’s help, not only did we solve the problem of the pipe bridges project, but we also gained a degree of self-sufficiency so that we can go on to develop similar projects within the business in the future

Lawrence Smith – Technical Information Manager, Thames Water

The Solution

Thames Water decided to use a GIS-based mobile data collection app that would integrate with its existing centralised ArcGIS database. The solution had to be highly intuitive as it would be used by employees and contractors within eight2O, an alliance of Thames Water, industry partners and joint ventures, formed to deliver a suite of infrastructure investment programmes on behalf of Thames Water.

With minimal consultancy support from Esri UK’s Professional Services team, Thames Water succeeded in developing a Pipe Bridges Validation app in just 14 working days, while also gaining invaluable new GIS skills. “This was our first foray into GIS online and we saw the project as a pilot with intent,” says Dr Lawrence Smith, Technical Information Manager at Thames Water. “With Esri UK’s help, not only did we solve the problem of the pipe bridges project, but we also gained a degree of self-sufficiency so that we can go on to develop similar projects within the business in the future.”

Now in use throughout all of Thames Water’s regions, the Pipe Bridges Validation app draws in existing asset information from ArcGIS Server to partially populate the survey ‘form’ on mobile devices. Employees edit, correct and supplement this information while in the field and, as key fields are mandatory, Thames Water is able to ensure that each pipe bridge survey records the same attributes and information. The data collected is then made available to a secondary app in ArcGIS Online for checking and verification, before being transferred without any additional data entry, into the master database in ArcGIS Server. Managers have a range of reporting tools that they can use to track the progress of surveys and see where survey teams are working at all times.

“ We now have incredibly rapid access to survey data that is complete, accurate and consistent for all the thousands of pipe bridges under our responsibility

Lawrence Smith – Technical Information Manager, Thames Water

The Benefits

Rapid collection of accurate asset information
The new Pipe Bridge Validation app has significantly reduced the time lapse between data collection in the field and the availability of that data at head office. Thames Water estimates that it used to take 7 to 10 days to capture survey information using the previous paper-driven method, but now validated data from completed pipe bridge surveys is available centrally in just 2 or 3 hours. “We now have incredibly rapid access to survey data that is complete, accurate and consistent for all the thousands of pipe bridges under our responsibility,” Smith says.

Proactive asset maintenance to enhance customer satisfaction
With improved pipe bridge data, Thames Water is now able to implement a proactive, condition-based asset maintenance programme that is, in time, expected to contribute to enhanced customer satisfaction. The company can prioritise repairs on the pipe bridges that are in the worst condition, minimising the likelihood of sudden pipe bursts or pollution incidents that might lead to customer complaints or reputational damage. With fewer complaints and service issues, Thames Water can improve its Ofwat customer index score.

Sustainable cost efficiencies in planned maintenance activities
Maintenance activities can also be undertaken far more cost efficiently, due to effective planning. Managers within both Thames Water and eight2O have better information to enable them to assign the correct maintenance plan to each pipe bridge, gain the necessary access permissions in advance and dispatch the right teams with the appropriate equipment and materials. Consequently, engineers are less likely to waste time sitting in their vans waiting for landowners to unlock access gates and will avoid having to make unnecessary repeat trips because they have the wrong materials in their vans for the type of pipe on the bridge.

Greater employee, contractor and public safety
In the new GIS-led process, surveyors take photos of pipe bridges and these images – along with supplementary data captured in the field – help to improve understanding of potential hazards at pipe bridges. When going out to each new maintenance job, employees and contractors from Thames Water and eight2O will now be better informed about what to expect and can ensure they have the right safety equipment with them to protect themselves and the general public during essential works.

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Colas Ltd

Proactively managing assets to reduce costs and improve public safety

The civil engineering business Colas uses solutions from Esri’s ArcGIS platform to help it undertake pre-emptive maintenance of thousands of assets over a 480km network of roads in Portsmouth. This proactive and strategic approach to asset management helps the company to reduce costs, improve public safety and deliver a high quality of service for Portsmouth City Council.

Colas can collect and share accurate, detailed information about ageing and deteriorating assets

Maintenance tasks can be scheduled more intelligently, to improve long term efficiency

Public safety is ensured as potential faults can be proactively repaired, before they cause incidents

The Challenge

Colas is responsible for the management and maintenance of Portsmouth’s highway infrastructure through a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) with Portsmouth City Council. Under the terms of this contract the company has to uphold the quality of more than 480km of roads, 16,000 street lights and 84 structures, and carry out extensive roadworks, ranging from the resurfacing of major junctions to the clearing of drains, until 2029.

Committed to sustaining a high quality road infrastructure for people living, working and travelling in Portsmouth, Colas wanted to be able to focus on more than just implementing reactive repairs. It aimed to build an optimised and efficient process that would allow it to identify and implement asset repairs on a more proactive basis. The company had previously invested in Esri’s ArcGIS platform to help it manage and visualise assets, not only for the Portsmouth PFI contract, but across all its projects and joint ventures in the UK and Ireland. So, pushing ahead from this solid foundation, it elected to make ArcGIS a key element of its proactive asset management solution.

“ We can make better informed decisions about which assets to maintain and when, on a proactive basis, which ultimately helps us to be more efficient

Dan Winslow – ICT Product Development Manager, Colas

The Solution

Every year, Colas carries out a comprehensive survey of the highways assets in Portsmouth, in which the asset condition is graded from good to unsatisfactory. In the proactive asset maintenance process, this information is now loaded into Esri’s Collector App for ArcGIS, to enable Colas’ own team of specialist highways inspectors to visit and check all those assets graded poor or unsatisfactory. Using the Collector App, the inspectors can take accurate location references, upload pictures, verify the condition of assets and add supplementary information, all while in the field.

There is no need for inspectors to take notes on paper and, consequently, no need for them to waste time typing up survey reports back in the office. All the Service Inspection information collected is automatically transferred from the Collector App to ArcGIS Server in the company’s head office and visualised on interactive maps. Office-based employees can then perform analysis, improve their understanding of maintenance requirements across an area of more than 40km2 and use this insight to prioritise and plan proactive maintenance activities.

Colas makes its Service Inspection data available to over 120 employees using Esri’s ArcGIS Online web portal, so that everyone working on the Portsmouth PFI has access to the latest and most accurate asset information.
Finally, Colas also provides a login to ArcGIS Online for Portsmouth City Council, which helps the two organisations to maintain a co-operative working relationship.

“ By using ArcGIS to collect data and inform our maintenance scheduling process, we can get to and repair assets before they become a safety issue

Dan Winslow – ICT Product Development Manager, Colas

The Benefits

By using ArcGIS for its proactive maintenance process – to collect, visualise, analyse and share data – Colas has gained a number of operational advantages including:

A shared understanding of asset quality
Colas now has far more accurate and extensive data available about the condition of old and deteriorating assets within the highways network in Portsmouth. Each asset graded poor or unsatisfactory can be quickly and efficiently surveyed in the field, and up-to-the-minute information about more than 70 different categories of assets can be made instantly available to employees, contractors and the council online. “The use of ArcGIS for our Service Inspections has helped us to become an asset driven business,” says Dan Winslow, ICT Product Development Manager at Colas. “We can also share our asset knowledge with Portsmouth City Council, which helps us deliver a transparent and high quality of service.”

More efficient business operations
Only repairing assets when they cause problems on the network can be very ineffective, as faults may occur anywhere in the city, at any time of the day or night – and often need rapid attention. By using ArcGIS Server to visualise and analyse its Survey Inspection data, Colas can now plan maintenance activities more strategically, by location. “Our proactive repairs process allows us to work in a smarter, more agile way than we did before,” Winslow says. “We can make better informed decisions about which assets to maintain and when, on a proactive basis, which ultimately helps us to improve services for citizens.”

The ability to ensure public safety
Significantly, Colas’ proactive asset maintenance process plays a key role in helping the organisation to maintain public safety in Portsmouth. “The process enables us to address issues that may not currently be causing issues to traffic or pedestrians, but that due to their evolving condition, could become safety concerns in the future,” Winslow explains. “By using ArcGIS to collect data and inform our maintenance scheduling process, we can get to and repair assets before they become a safety issue.”

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Fera Science

Conveying scientific evidence from drones to decision makers

The agri-food research company Fera Science has developed a GIS-based web app to share high resolution imagery from an Unmanned Aerial System with a range of government and commercial clients. The solution gives decision makers a deeper understanding of complex environmental and agricultural challenges, so they can plan more effectively to protect our natural resources and food security.

A root vegetable grower can identify inconsistencies in crop sowing to increase future food production

A government agency can survey and protect endangered trees more cost effectively

A large landowner can plan a more sustainable business expansion, while improving safety

The Challenge

In a world challenged by population growth, pollution and climate change, Fera Science provides accurate, scientific evidence to support critical decisions in the agriculture and environment industries. It delivers research data and advice for 7,500 government and commercial organisations, helping them to increase food production, ensure water quality, maintain food nutrition and sustain our natural resources.

Every year Fera undertakes over 600 research assignments and, in the Land Use and Sustainability Team specifically, nearly half of all projects involve the collection and analysis of remotely sensed imagery. To supplement the use of imagery from satellites and manned aircraft, Fera acquired an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), capable of taking higher resolution spatial images at a significantly lower cost than a piloted aircraft. However, to optimise the value of its new UAS services, Fera needed a way to make the high quality imagery and analysis available to clients, in a format that they could interrogate, interpret and ultimately use to make better-informed decisions.

“ Esri’s Web AppBuilder enables us to produce web apps easily in-house, without the need for support and bespoke code from specialist app developers

Lee Butler – GIS Specialist, Land Use and Sustainability Team, Fera

The Solution

Fera has been using solutions from Esri’s ArcGIS platform for many years and has an Enterprise Licence Agreement with Esri UK that gives it unlimited access to Esri’s full software portfolio. Taking advantage of Esri’s Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS, the company designed a web app that allows clients to view data from the UAS, zoom in to the full resolution of the imagery, turn on map layers and view attributes specifically relating to their projects. A typical 25-minute UAS flight generates over 6GB of data, comprising up to 3,000 individual photographs that are mosaicked together to create a single, seamless image.

The simplicity of the ArcGIS Web AppBuilder means that Fera can quickly build a bespoke web app for each client to include ‘widgets’ that allow decision makers to perform analysis tasks, such as counting trees or crops in a custom-defined area. “Esri’s Web AppBuilder enables us to produce web apps easily in-house, without the need for support and bespoke code from specialist app developers,” says Lee Butler, a GIS Specialist within Fera’s Land Use and Sustainability Team.

“ The ArcGIS web apps allow our clients to interact with, interrogate and analyse the imagery collected by the drone, which they couldn’t do previously

Lee Butler – GIS Specialist, Land Use and Sustainability Team, Fera

The Benefits

An efficient and high quality service for clients
The use of ArcGIS web apps enables Fera to deliver a UAS imaging service for its clients that is as cutting-edge and professional as its scientific research methods. Furthermore, as Fera no longer has to manually produce paper and pdf maps, it saves up to 10 hours every month and can deliver its UAS imagery to clients more promptly. “The ArcGIS web apps allow our clients to interact with, interrogate and analyse the imagery collected by the UAS, which they couldn’t do previously,” Butler says. “It allows them to acquire a far deeper understanding from the aerial imagery and gain added value from our services.”

Increased agricultural crop yields
One of the first companies to benefit from Fera’s web app is an agricultural company that grows potatoes and root vegetables. After the UAS flew over two large potato crop fields, the client used the web app to assess planting efficiency and automatically count plants, so that it could estimate yield more accurately and provide better forecasts to its customers. Using the ArcGIS web app, the client identified unexpected gaps in fields, where the planting machinery had not planted in a uniform manner throughout the crop and at the start of planting rows. Enlightened, it is now using this new information to review its planting techniques to increase crop yields for next year.

More cost efficient environmental surveys
Another of Fera’s clients, a government agency, is using the web app to help it monitor the outbreak of pests and disease in trees more cost efficiently and protect British woodlands. The UAS flies over areas where there are confirmed or suspected incidents of tree disease. The imagery is then processed and classified to tree species using imagery classification techniques. Tree inspectors can then view the imagery using the ArcGIS web app to identify the precise locations of tree species that are susceptible to that particular disease. Using this newly-gained insight, inspectors can plan their surveys more effectively to save time and money. They can even access the web app in the field using web-connected tablets, to help them find potentially infected trees more quickly.

Safe and sustainable land use
The ArcGIS web app can in fact be invaluable in supporting the use of UAS imagery in all kinds of land use projects. For instance, it is currently being used by a quarrying company in County Durham, where the UAS captured images over a 174 hectare site. Senior executives at the quarry use the ArcGIS web app to better interpret imagery in 2D and 3D and make decisions relating to the ongoing, sustainable use and future expansion of the site. They also use the app to brief visitors and members of staff about the locations of potential hazards, which helps to improve health and safety.

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South Ayrshire Council

Inspiring citizens to engage with policies

Using configurable apps from Esri, South Ayrshire Council has developed over 25 informative Story Maps to communicate information to citizens, businesses and its own employees. These highly versatile, interactive maps don’t just tell a story; they engage people in local issues, support the local economy and improve the efficiency of council operations.

The council has increased citizen engagement in key policies such as the Local Development Plan

Key events are publicised more inventively, increasing visitor numbers and boosting tourism

Employees work efficiently and save money, with improved understanding of corporate policies

The Challenge

All local authorities in the UK need to engage successfully with citizens, to keep them informed about policies, events and opportunities. Likewise, councils have to communicate effectively with local and national businesses, giving them the information they need to help them expand their operations, exploit new business opportunities and contribute to the economic growth of the region. But, as most local authorities in the UK will attest, it can be difficult to attract and sustain the attention of these external audiences.

South Ayrshire Council was acutely aware of the challenges of sharing information and getting local people to engage with its policies. In particular, it wanted to increase public awareness of its Local Development Plan, a strategic policy document that sets out the council’s land use priorities. It had published a copy of the plan on its website, but this pivotal document – which could potentially impact on the lives, homes and businesses of over 111,000 people in South Ayrshire – was only downloaded 1,500 times in 12 months.

“ The genius of the Esri Story Map is the tying together of maps, images and text, in one place, in an interactive format

Stewart McCall – Senior Systems Analyst, South Ayrshire Council

The Solution

A longstanding user of Esri geographic information system (GIS) solutions, South Ayrshire Council discovered Esri’s Story Map templates and recognised their potential value as a means of making information much more accessible and meaningful for citizens. “The genius of the Esri Story Map is the tying together of maps, images and text, in one place, in an interactive format,” says Stewart McCall, Senior Systems Analyst at the council. “The narrative beside the interactive map makes it very clear what the map shows and why it is important, while the images draw people in and make the Story Maps compelling to view.”

The council began by producing a Story Map for its Local Development Plan that combines maps of the area with high quality images and the actual policy wording. Accessed via the council website, the Story Map clearly sets out where new commercial developments, like retail units, will be permitted, advises on the best sites for wind farms and simplifies policy around residential planning restrictions. In recognition of this ground-breaking new approach to publishing the Local Development Plan, South Ayrshire Council was named the overall winner in the Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning 2016.

Within weeks the GIS team became inundated with requests for additional Story Maps from other council departments, ranging from procurement to housing. Interestingly, these requirements weren’t all for Story Maps to engage with external audiences; demand also emerged for Story Maps to help communicate information to council employees. According to McCall, there is now “at least one new Story Map request every ten days,” so he has trained ten colleagues, from a cross-section of departments, to help him keep pace with demand.

“ We now have a rapidly growing portfolio of over 25 Story Maps that play a valuable role in improving communications with citizens, businesses and colleagues

Stewart McCall – Senior Systems Analyst, South Ayrshire Council

The Benefits

Increased citizen engagement in local issues
Story Maps have proven highly effective in encouraging citizens to become better informed about and more involved in local issues. The Local Development Plan Story Map, for instance, was viewed nearly 4,500 times in just six months and was accessed more times in the first five weeks than the pdf plan had been downloaded in 12 months. Another Story Map, produced to clarify proposed ward boundary changes, incorporated Esri’s QuestionWhere survey app, and provided a direct means for citizens to comment on and influence council plans.

A welcome boost for the local economy
As well as the Local Development Plan, South Ayrshire Council has produced a Story Map that shows vacant land and derelict sites. The clarity of the information presented in Story Maps like these makes it far easier for home owners and commercial organisations to recognise development opportunities, understand council policies and make appropriate planning applications that are more likely to obtain planning permission. In time, the council anticipates that its Story Maps will help increase the number of commercial, industrial and residential developments in South Ayrshire and invigorate the economy of the region.

Highly attractive and captivating publicity for South Ayrshire
Enriched with quality imagery, the Story Maps help to promote South Ayrshire as a destination for visitors and support the local tourism industry. For instance, the council created a Story Map for the Open Golf Tournament, converting information from a dense 40-page Traffic Management document into a highly visual, interactive resource. The Story Map clarified how to get to the venue, where to park and how to use public transport and was viewed over 5,000 times in just two weeks.

More effective employee communications
Recent Story Maps, developed for internal use, have significantly improved employees’ understanding of corporate policies and procedures, contributing in some cases towards cost savings. One example is the Story Map named ‘Better Mail Management,’ which shows employees how to handle mail and where to find franking machines, guiding them to the most cost effective methods of sending mail. “We now have a rapidly growing portfolio of over 25 Story Maps that play a valuable role in improving communications with citizens, businesses and colleagues,” McCall says.

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Carlow County Council

Transforming the planning application process

At a time when the Irish economy is beginning to revive and new development projects are taking off again, Carlow County Council is set to process a significant increase in planning applications with the same number of employees. It has used Esri’s ArcGIS platform to transform its planning application system and deliver a high quality of service for citizens.

Planners are saving time thanks to automated GIS analysis capabilities

The council has better information to support faster, well informed planning decisions

Citizens, developers and professionals have better access to information online

The Challenge

The IT systems used to process planning applications in the town and county of Carlow in south-eastern Ireland had become outdated. They were slow and unreliable and, to make matters worse, the IT vendor had announced that it would be discontinuing support. So, when Carlow County Council was required to merge with Carlow Town Council in 2014, this significant reorganisation provided precisely the catalyst needed for a brand new approach to managing planning applications.

“ In a recovering economy, we will be able to process a far larger volume of planning applications and deliver a service that is low in cost and high in quality

William Barry – IS Project Leader, Carlow County Council

The Solution

Having used Esri’s ArcGIS Online for nearly two years and been highly impressed by it, Carlow County Council approached Esri Ireland for help in designing and developing a state-of-the-art planning application system, based on geographic information system (GIS) technology. The resulting solution, known internally as ‘Planning GIS’, is based on Esri’s ArcGIS platform, seamlessly integrated with the council’s existing iPlan planning administration  database.

Now, when new planning applications are received, the site location maps are digitised and verified, to make sure that site details are correct.  The planning register is then accessible to employees right across the council and can also be accessed by the general public and commercial organisations via an ArcGIS web map service.

ArcGIS then automatically draws in supplementary information from external sources, including the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Office of Public Works and the Department of the Environment. Using these diverse data sets, it automatically analyses the site location, detects potential conflicts, such as proximity to a special area of conservation (SAC) and presents planners with all of the relevant spatial information necessary to make better informed planning decisions.

To further enhance its planning application process, Carlow County Council has scanned and geo-registered its vast collection of old hardcopy planning maps using ArcGIS. Consequently, planners can open these historic maps from within the planning system, turn them on and off, or layer them over up-to-date maps, to gain a clear perspective on land changes over time. “Having ready access to this information is really important,” says William Barry, IS Project Leader at Carlow County Council. “We can see at a glance the planning history of a site and make decisions accordingly about necessary planning conditions.”

 

“ If an area is designated or is located close to a protected structure for example, planners can see that straight away

William Barry – IS Project Leader, Carlow County Council

The Benefits

Planning GIS has delivered significant advantages for Carlow County Council, including:

Greater internal efficiency
The automated analysis capabilities of Planning GIS help to improve the productivity of the council’s planners, by reducing the amount of time required to check site locations for potential environmental or historical conflicts. As Barry explains, this efficiency gain will be particularly important for the council when the number of planning applications increases in the future. “In a recovering economy, we will be able to process a far larger volume of planning applications and deliver a service that is low in cost and high in quality,” he says.

Better-informed decisions
As planners have instant access to the full history of a particular site and all the environmental data that relates to it, in one place, they are able to make faster, better decisions. “Everything we need is there in front of us,” Barry observes. “If an area is designated or is located close to a protected structure for example, planners can see that straight away.”

Added support for developers
Developers, construction firms and other organisations working in the building industry can use the ArcGIS web feature service to view the council’s planning register on demand. Consequently, they don’t have to waste time visiting the planning office for information and have better insight into upcoming projects. As Barry says, the planning application “Helps the local construction industry as a whole, by allowing developers and other professionals to do their jobs more efficiently.”

Improved services for citizens
Employees across all departments in the council can access Planning GIS to help them make better long-term decisions about new road infrastructure projects and other public services, to ensure that investment is made in the right areas to meet the needs of citizens. Equally, individuals and companies, who have applied for planning permission, can now monitor the progress of their applications online and don’t have to keep phoning the council for updates.

More reliable IT
Finally, the council’s IT department is now relieved of the pressure of trying to maintain an IT system that had begun to outlive its usefulness. “Planning GIS is a faster, more responsive and more reliable system,” reports Barry, adding simply, “It just works well.”

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geohive

OSI GeoHive

Unlocking the economic benefits of geospatial data & maps

Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) has launched a new online mapping service that helps to unlock Ireland’s vast reserves of geospatial data.  Called GeoHive, this free web app is expected to support the recovery of the Irish economy and pave the way for public and private sector organisations to save millions of Euros.

GeoHive provides a single portal to 142 layers of geospatial data from 35 public sector organisations

 

Users can create and share meaningful maps of Ireland, for free, using any PC, laptop or mobile device

The solution presents trusted information to support decisions about new investments in Ireland

The Challenge

OSi is in no doubt of the incredible value that geospatial data can deliver for the Irish economy.  In 2013 it commissioned an Economic Assessment of Ireland’s Geospatial Industry, which concluded that better use of location-based information could lead to annual cost savings of €82m in the public sector, time savings with an economic value of €279m and competition benefits of €104m.  Inspired by these findings, OSi decided to take a lead in making Ireland’s vast geospatial data resources more widely available via the Internet.

The national mapping organisation already had an online map viewer, which attracted over 1.5 million unique visitors a year.  However, the technology behind this web service was becoming out dated and couldn’t deliver digital cartography to tablet and mobile devices.  OSi therefore launched an ambitious project to replace its existing map viewer with a new online portal that would improve the user experience, as well as make third party, public sector data easily accessible from a single location.

“ArcGIS has enabled OSi to deliver a service that has the potential to really boost the value of geospatial data to the Irish economy.”

Colin Bray, chief executive, Ordnance Survey Ireland

The Solution

A long-standing user of Esri geographic information system (GIS) technology, OSi worked closely with Esri Ireland to completely redevelop and modernise its online mapping capability, using Esri’s ArcGIS platform.  Named GeoHive (www.geohive.ie), the new, free-to-use web service now delivers significantly enhanced facilities for users, including a new ‘make your map’ capability.  “For the first time, users can access current and historical OSi maps on their mobile phones and tablets, whenever they need them,” explains Hugh Mangan, general manager of business and marketing, OSi.  “GeoHive also gives users the ability to create maps in a much simpler way, save them and share them instantly with colleagues using any device.”

Most importantly, GeoHive combines OSi mapping with data from a wide range of public sector partners, to create an authoritative national Spatial Data Infrastructure.  “GeoHive is a classic portal, in that it provides an access point to lots of existing sets of spatial data that have already been published,” Mangan says.  “However, it is unique in Ireland in the way that it combines over 142 layers of third party data from 35 public sector bodies and presents them seamlessly to the end user from a single site.”

“GeoHive also gives users the ability to create maps in a much simpler way, save them and share them instantly with colleagues using any device.”

Hugh Mangan – general manager of business and marketing, OSi

The Benefits

Launched on 3rd November 2015 by Ireland’s Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, GeoHive is now enabling OSi to achieve its aspirations.  The online portal delivers:

 Greater access to geospatial information

With the development of GeoHive, OSi is now able to expose many more individuals and organisations to the vast reservoirs of geospatial data that exist in Ireland.   From one single website, users can combine and layer different data sets against the background of up-to-date OSi maps, to uncover fresh insight into situations and easily share that information using mobile devices.

Trusted evidence to support investment decisions

It is anticipated that GeoHive will help to encourage new investments in Ireland, supporting the recovery of the Irish economy.  For example, an industry story map, included in GeoHive, shows information about the working population, skills, infrastructure and transportation.  “If a business owner is considering opening a new office or factory in Galway, GeoHive presents all the information that they need to help them understand the area and make informed decisions,” Mangan says.

Substantial opportunities to make cost savings

OSi is confident that GeoHive will play a key role in helping organisations to improve their efficiency and thereby unlock the significant cost savings opportunities identified in its Economic Assessment of Ireland’s Geospatial Industry.  According to OSi’s chief executive, Colin Bray, “ArcGIS has enabled OSi to deliver a service that has the potential to really boost the value of geospatial data to the Irish economy.  By making location-based data more accessible, useable and meaningful for everyone, GeoHive will help public and private sector organisations to reduce costs, save time and capitalise on new business opportunities.”

Improved public services for citizens

GeoHive enables all participating public sector organisations to deliver a better customer service, by making their data more accessible to a wider number of potential users.  Citizens can not only find public information more easily, but also have simple-to-use tools to help them apply it to their areas of interest and make informed choices that will enrich their lives.  Summing up, Mangan observes, “GeoHive provides a window to a wider world.”

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