Category Archives: Central Government

The Geo-centric Railway

The Geo-centric Railway

Why location matters in the Rail industry

A whitepaper researched and written by Daniel Irwin, Geospatial Lead for Crossrail, a £15B railway construction project in London and the South-East – at the time, one the largest infrastructure projects in Europe. Published in 2018, the whitepaper includes contributions from Transport for London, Network Rail, High Speed 2, Crossrail 2, London underground, EMAS, Skanska and Mott MacDonald.

The rail industry has always had a need to answer the question of ‘where’ and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can provide that answer. This paper seeks to highlight some of the reasons why GIS should be used within rail organisations to address location based tasks, from planning through to operation and beyond.

Download the whitepaper to explore why location matters in the Rail industry…

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GIS delivers insight on the transportation infrastructure life cycle. Plan, monitor and manage complex systems more effectively

Digital Transformation for Government

Digital Transformation for Government

The Science of Where Data makes Government Smarter

Modern Government aspires to make the most of its data, to enable agile, effective and cost effective decision making. Government needs simple and engaging ways to exchange information with staff, citizens and the supply chain.

At Esri we build the world’s most powerful mapping and spatial analytics software, enabling government to visualise the physical world and business data together, share and collaborate with colleagues and partners, Equip and manage mobile workers and to design and plan the places of the future.

All of this, using out-of-the-box, rapidly deployable secure solutions that are low cost and provide a significant return on investment.

Explore how Esri GIS is used by government to reduce costs, inform policy, attract investment and optimise citizen services, with examples from:

Westminster City Council | Norfolk County Council | Sport Wales | London Borough of Lambeth | Cabinet Office | South Ayrshire Council | Cornwall Council | Environment Agency | Crossrail | Greater London Authority | Transport for London | Transport Infrastructure Ireland

Read the eBook free now by clicking below…

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Empower citizens, improve policy-making and optimise service delivery

Scottish Natural Heritage: Data Services

Saving time and improving quality with online data services

Maintaining the background mapping for its many GIS applications used to be a challenging and time-consuming process for Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). The organisation is now able to rely on Esri UK’s online data service, which both saves time and enhances the user experience.

– Data Services –


Case study – Central Government


The Customer

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is the Scottish Government’s advisor on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Its role is to help everyone understand, value and enjoy Scotland’s nature now and in the future. It does this by providing advice and information to support projects that benefit wildlife, habitats and landscapes, or that encourage more people to enjoy nature responsibly.

GIS professionals no longer have to spend hours at a time updating the background mapping for the organisation’s GIS applications

For no additional cost, SNH now has access to a vast library of maps including large-scale maps that would otherwise have cost up to £5,000 a year

Esri UK’s online data service delivers exceptional user performance and can scale up to meet unexpected peaks in traffic

The Challenge

SNH is legally required to “actively disseminate” natural heritage information, but felt that answering inquiries as they arose by telephone, fax and post was not fully satisfying these obligations.

“We wanted to be able to provide a better service to the public, as well as save time and money”, Mark Robson, GIS Manager says. Consequently, SNH decided to develop an interactive mapping service to deliver information, whether about wildlife in the Cairngorms, facts about a Site of Special Scientific Interest or for planning a trip to a National Nature Reserve.

“ We wanted something that we could develop very rapidly, that would offer us ‘Web 2.0’ type capabilities and that could easily be integrated with the rest of the organisation’s website

Mark Robson – GIS Manager at SNH

The Solution

As a longstanding user of GIS, SNH needed a web-based solution that was compatible with their existing GIS architecture. “We wanted something that we could develop very rapidly, that would offer us ‘Web 2.0’ type capabilities and that could easily be integrated with the rest of the organisation’s website”, says Mark Robson, GIS Manager.

Esri UK’s Customer Care team worked closely with SNH’s GIS team to migrate from ArcIMS to the latest version of ArcGIS Server, which includes the Flex Application Programming Interface (API).

Flex made it easy to create web-based mapping applications with the desired look, feel and general style, and SNH was able to create a proof of concept application within a matter of hours. In development, SNH used ESRI’s hosted services, while still implementing ArcGIS Server. “When ArcGIS went live, it was very easy for me to switch from the hosted system to our own system,” says Richard Betts, Senior GIS Officer.

A key capability of Flex is its ability to integrate data and services from third parties. SNH created a mash-up, seamlessly importing species data from the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) into its own website. “Previously, we had provided a lot of information into the NBN, but we needed a way of making that information accessible to our own customers,” explains Richard Betts, Senior GIS Officer

SNH’s GIS team found the documentation on resources.esri.com well organised and well written. This helped them understand the capabilities of the ArcGIS Server platform and speeded up application development. “The whole application build took less than four months”, estimates Betts. “Considering how much new software was involved and the complexity of our environment, that was pretty quick.”

“ ArcGIS Server allows us to deliver information in a far more accessible way and to a wider range of people, from planners and developers to school children

Mark Robson – GIS Manager at SNH

The Benefits

The site is helping achieve the goals of openness and value for money for the people of Scotland. SNH launched its interactive mapping in March 2009 and the site attracts an average of 3,000 visitors per month, with 20,000 individual page views per month. Most importantly, two thirds of users are return customers. “This demonstrates that users value the site and consider it worth visiting again,” says Betts. “We have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of unprompted positive feedback we have received from both users and partners,” says Robson.

Whereas it used to take over a day of an area officer’s time to answer a fairly standard query, now customers can easily find information for themselves. “GIS enables us to work more efficiently and frees up people’s time to focus on the quality aspects of information management”, observes Alan McKirdy, Head of Information Management.

New audiences now access SNH data. “ArcGIS Server allows us to deliver information in a far more accessible way and to a wider range of people, from planners and developers to school children”, explains Robson.

“ GIS enables us to work more efficiently and frees up people’s time to focus on the quality aspect of information management

Ian McKirdy – Head of Information Management at SNH

The Future

More content will be made available online. “Self service has proved to be better for our customers and a more efficient use of our time”, says Robson. “The next step is to take advantage of the simplicity of the ArcGIS Flex API to expand this service to cover all our data.”

Robson and Betts believe that the wider deployment of online interactive mapping will help to elevate SNH’s reputation. “It is now much easier for people to see what we do, what we stand for and why we are here”, concludes Robson. “Use of GIS on our website is helping to increase awareness of the value of what we deliver for the people of Scotland.

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Sadler Consultants

Providing a one-stop-shop for information from 31 European countries

A firm of air quality consultants has used Esri’s ArcGIS Online to develop a website for the European Commission that makes information about traffic restrictions in 31 European countries, easily accessible, from one interactive map. This comprehensive online service is expected to save time and money for drivers and vehicle operators, while helping to reduce urban pollution across the EU.

Esri UK’s Content Services team provided valuable consulting and data preparation support, which led to the inclusion of more comprehensive information for over 8,000 towns and cities, across Europe

Users view a map of the whole of Europe on the website, zoom into a specific country, region, city or town and simply click on their areas of interest to obtain accurate information about traffic restrictions

ArcGIS Online ensures that users experience consistently good website performance, whether they are using a PC, laptop, mobile tablet or smartphone, and displays information in 26 languages

The Challenge

It is a shocking but little-known fact that more people die from the effects of air pollution than are killed in road accidents in Europe. Furthermore, the cost of providing healthcare to alleviate the suffering caused by air pollution in the European Union (EU) is estimated to be as high as €790 million. To protect their populations, many European countries and cities have introduced traffic regulations in urban areas. Yet, while these measures help to improve air quality and reduce congestion, they can be confusing for drivers.

Haulage companies and coach operators that need to plan deliveries or tours in multiple European cities find it hard to obtain information about the many different types of restrictions in specific locations. They don’t know exactly where road charging schemes are in force or how to obtain a permit; they don’t know where weight and height restrictions exist which might influence their choice of vehicle; and they don’t know the locations of low emission zones or how to check to see if their vehicles will comply. For private drivers and small businesses planning one-off trips to European cities, it can be even harder to obtain this information.

To address this challenge, the European Commission (the EU’s executive body) appointed the specialist air quality consultancy Sadler Consultants Limited to develop a multilingual public website to consolidate information about urban access regulation schemes in Europe. The first version of this online facility was extremely well received, but the EU wanted to broaden it to include data on all traffic restrictions. Sadler Consultants also wanted to upgrade the web site’s mapping, which did not perform well on mobile devices or allow users to zoom in and out easily.

“ The website uses Esri’s ArcGIS Online to make it easier for drivers to understand and adhere to traffic restrictions in over 8,000 towns and cities in 31 European countries

The Solution

When Sadler Consultants upgraded and re-launched the web site, it replaced the previous FLASH-based map with Esri’s ArcGIS Online, a web-based geographic information system (GIS) solution that adapts effortlessly to any device. Users can now view a map of the whole of Europe on the website, zoom in to a specific country, region, city or town and click on their areas of interest. They can elect to view all restrictions or just certain types of regulation by checking boxes in an adjacent legend. Pop-up boxes then appear with detailed maps of relevant restrictions in the highlighted urban areas, and users can click in these boxes for full details, in any of 26 languages, including minority and non-EU languages.

GIS experts from Esri UK advised Sadler Consultants on the deployment of ArcGIS Online and assisted in the redevelopment of the website. In addition, Esri UK’s Content Services team provided expert guidance on appropriate data sources and brokered a data licensing deal with sat nav data provider HERE (formerly NAVTEQ). The team took HERE data on traffic restrictions in European towns and cities and converted this road network data into polygons depicting whole zones where restrictions apply. The data was then used in a series of ArcGIS Online maps configured by the Content Services team for use in the project.

“ It is my hope that the website will help support both towns and cities as well as vehicle operators, help to reduce pollution, noise and traffic in urban areas and improve lives across Europe

Lucy Sadler – Director, Sadler Consultant

Benefits

The incorporation of ArcGIS Online into www.urbanaccessregulations.eu has transformed the site, making it more intuitive to navigate and providing an exceptional user experience on mobiles and tablets. “ArcGIS Online gives us an interactive interface that people can use to easily plan their journeys,” says Lucy Sadler, director of Sadler Consultants. “The pop-ups give users summary information without having to leave the map. It works brilliantly!”

The information available on the website is also significantly more extensive than it was previously; thanks to the inclusion of HERE data, sourced and prepared by Esri UK, the site now offers – for the first time – details on the height, width, length and weight restrictions for all European towns and cities (over 8,000). “Haulage companies and tour operators have long been lobbying the EU for a service as comprehensive as this and now we can provide it for them,” Sadler says.

In liaising with HERE, Esri UK was able to secure a cost-effective data pricing model for the EU, and this led to a further improvement in the quality of the website, as Sadler explains. “Thanks to Esri UK’s negotiation and data preparation, we had more funds available to investigate the more complex traffic regulations, which need more details than those provided through the HERE data, so could produce a more comprehensive record of restrictions for the whole of the EU.”

Over time, commercial vehicle operators and private individuals will save time and money from use of the website. They won’t waste hours trying to obtain and understand information that only exists in foreign languages and will avoid accidental penalties from not knowing a scheme exists.

Ultimately, the main aim is that the website will have a profound health benefit for millions of Europeans. Mindful of the many EU directives on air quality and the environment, Sadler concludes, “It is my hope that the website will help support both towns and cities as well as vehicle operators, help to reduce pollution, noise and traffic in urban areas and improve lives across Europe.”


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Urban Access Regulation in Europe

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Natural Resources Wales

Ensuring the sustainability of protected cockle beds

An on-site training course, designed and delivered by Esri UK, gave Natural Resources Wales the confidence to use GIS in a project to survey and manage protected cockle beds. The organisation can now analyse its survey results with greater accuracy, present data more clearly and make the best possible decisions to resolve the conflicting interests of fishermen and seabirds.

The Customer

Natural Resources Wales advises the Welsh Government about the environment in Wales, helping to ensure that all natural resources are maintained, enhanced and used in a sustainable way. The organisation consolidates activities previously carried out by the Countryside Council for Wales, Environment Agency Wales and Forestry Commission Wales.

The use of ArcGIS, in place of spreadsheets, gives the fisheries team greater accuracy and consistency in the reporting of its cockle bed survey results

ArcGIS allows the cockle bed survey results to be presented in a more visual format, making the findings easier for different stakeholders to understand them

The onsite, tailored training course proved highly cost effective, as it was made available to multiple teams within the organisation

The Challenge

Tucked away in a corner of South Wales is a saltwater estuary that is a Special Protection Area of European significance. Called the Burry Inlet, it comprises over 4,000 hectares of mudflats, sand dunes and salt marshes. The region is home to millions of cockles, and commercial cockle fishing has taken place in the area for over a hundred years. However, cockles also provide a critical source of food for up to 13,000 overwintering birds including Oystercatchers, Knots, Shovelers and Pintails.

Natural Resources Wales is charged with managing these precious cockle beds and regulating fishing, to ensure that sufficient stock remains to nourish the internationally important wildfowl population. Twice a year, it collects sample data from 400 survey points throughout the estuary, calculates the biomass of cockles and uses this information to set fishing quotas called the Total Allowable Catch (TAC).

For many years, the organisation had tabulated the results of the survey in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. Elsewhere in the organisation, however, geographic information system (GIS) technology was used with great success, and the fisheries management team recognised that it could use GIS to improve the calculation and presentation of its survey results. “GIS was undeniably the way forwards,” says Dave Tavner, technical officer for the fisheries management team at Natural Resources Wales. “We had used GIS previously, but we were a bit unsure about how to get started in using it for our cockle surveys.”

“ The GIS method is less open to mistakes and gives us greater confidence in our calculations. Once the parameters are set correctly, the analysis is run with a few clicks of the mouse

Dave Tavner – Technical Officer, Fisheries Management Team, Natural Resources Wales

The Solution

Natural Resources Wales approached Esri UK and arranged a one-day, tailored training course, to be delivered at the organisation’s own premises. The course was designed specifically to cater for the needs of the fisheries department and the trainer focused on showing the cockle fisheries team precisely those tools and techniques that would enable them to replace spreadsheets and transform their existing survey process.

Natural Resources Wales already had an Enterprise License Agreement with Esri UK for the use of Esri’s ArcGIS platform. The fisheries team therefore did not need to make any additional investment in software, in order to be able to develop its new GIS application.

Following the training course, Dave Tavner and his colleagues were able to use GIS to help them collate, analyse, calculate and present their survey results. The team took advantage of Esri’s Spatial Analyst extension, in particular, and employed tools such as ‘zonal statistics’ to accurately calculate the cockle biomass. In addition, the team used the GIS application to create visualisations of the estuary, including ‘hot spot maps’ showing those areas with the highest density of cockles.

“ Esri UK’s onsite training gave us the confidence to push ahead with a new approach to cockle management. GIS is now helping us to quantify the cockle population and take appropriate steps to meet the needs of fishermen and birds alike

Dave Tavner – Technical Officer, Fisheries Management Team, Natural Resources Wales

Benefits

The use of ArcGIS gives the cockle fisheries team greater accuracy and consistency in the reporting of its survey results. “The GIS method is less open to mistakes and gives us greater confidence in our calculations,” says Tavner. “Once the parameters are set correctly, the analysis is run with a few clicks of the mouse.”

What is more, ArcGIS enables the organisation to present its survey results in a far more visual and attractive format on digital maps, which are much easier for people to understand. “The hot spot maps that we can produce using ArcGIS are particularly effective,” Tavner says. “They help us to justify our decision to allow cockle fishing in a European marine conservation area.”

The onsite training delivered by Esri UK was of a very high quality and – being tailored to the organisation’s needs – gave the team precisely the skills they needed to use GIS in a new way. “Having training that was specific to our job was really helpful,” admits Tavner. “It showed us new techniques for achieving our goals.”

He adds: “Esri UK’s onsite training gave us the confidence to push ahead with a new approach to cockle management. GIS is now helping us to quantify the cockle population and take appropriate steps to meet the needs of fishermen and birds alike.”

Because the Esri UK trainer came to Natural Resources Wales’ own offices, Tavner was able to invite colleagues from the hydro-acoustic fisheries assessment department to participate too. The course was therefore highly cost effective and delivered benefits to a larger number of employees, some of whom may not otherwise have had the opportunity to access GIS training.

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Natural England

Achieving strategic goals following bespoke training

After making the decision to standardise on Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop solution throughout its entire organisation, Natural England commissioned Esri UK to deliver bespoke training for 428 employees. The course delivered was both cost effective and highly relevant to multiple users and their varied job roles


Case study – Training


The Customer

Natural England advises the government on the best ways to protect and improve England’s natural environment. It works with farmers, landowners, businesses and local groups to ensure the sustainable use of land and sea, and encourages people to enjoy their surroundings.

Being uniquely tailored to Natural England, the course helped give employees a better understanding of the data and resources within the organisation

The course received excellent feedback from employees, 90% of whom stated that it provided the necessary knowledge for them to use ArcGIS Desktop in their work

Natural England believes that Esri UK’s bespoke training was more cost effective than standard courses or training developed in-house

The Challenge

Natural England was founded in 2006 from the merger of the Countryside Agency, English Nature and the Rural Development Service. Each of these three organisations used different geospatial information system (GIS) solutions to support many programmes of work. Natural England inherited not only a mix of disparate GIS applications, but also distinct teams of employees with different skill sets.

This lack of uniformity led to a number of challenges for Natural England. In the IT department, significant amounts of time were consumed preparing spatial data in alternate formats for different systems, and maintenance of the disparate GIS systems was unnecessarily complex. In addition, new employees often had to be trained in multiple systems, while existing employees couldn’t easily transition into new roles.

To remedy the problem, Natural England made the strategic decision to consolidate all its spatial data and applications on a single GIS platform, Esri’s ArcGIS. “GIS is absolutely pivotal to the majority of our work,” explains Simon Coleman, GIS analyst at Natural England. “Our aim was to build a geographically literate organisation and bring everyone together under one GIS system.”

The first challenge was to up-skill 400 GIS users with different backgrounds to a common level of understanding. These users fulfilled a huge range of job roles from managing nature reserves to monitoring soil erosion and implementing EU-funded farming schemes. “Our employees’ skill sets were really varied,” says Coleman. “Different teams used different GIS packages in different ways to fulfil niche roles. As part of our migration to ArcGIS, we had to organise a comprehensive programme of training that would meet the needs of everyone.”

The second challenge was to arrange 39 courses across England, from Exeter and Kendal to Newcastle and Ashford.

“ Different teams used different GIS packages in different ways to fulfil niche roles. As part of our migration to ArcGIS, we had to organise a comprehensive programme of training that would meet the needs of everyone

Simon Coleman – GIS analyst at Natural England

The Solution

Natural England commissioned Esri UK to design and deliver a bespoke, on-site training course for ArcGIS Desktop. The organisation wanted Esri UK to repeat the course on different dates and at different locations, so that its employees could choose to attend whenever and wherever it was most convenient. Consequently, the course had to be flexible enough to meet the needs of all employees, no matter what their experience or job role.

The Migrating to ArcGIS Desktop Foundation course designed by Esri UK covered a wide range of skills from querying, selecting and finding features to analysing habitat data. It was tailored to Natural England’s business and used the organisation’s own data as part of examples and exercises. In total, Esri UK trained 428 employees in 39 separate training sessions, over the course of eight months.

“ Esri UK designed and delivered bespoke training to meet the needs of over 400 employees with diverse skills and job roles. The course was cost effective, professional and relevant to our business

Phillipa Swanton – Principal Adviser, Geographic Literacy, Natural England

Benefits

The success of Natural England’s single-platform GIS strategy hinged on the success of its training programme. Put simply, if employees couldn’t transition effectively to ArcGIS, all the benefits and cost-savings of consolidation would not be achieved. Fortunately, however, the training was highly effective, paving the way for the organisation to achieve its strategic goals.

Feedback from delegates was extremely positive, and GIS novices and experienced users alike reported that the course met their needs. In a survey completed following the conclusion of the training, 90% of employees stated that the course provided them with the necessary knowledge to use ArcGIS Desktop in their work.

Because the course was bespoke, Esri UK was able to incorporate training on how and where spatial data is held within Natural England. “Often employees aren’t aware of how much data we hold and how to access it,” Coleman says. “The training gave us a really good opportunity to improve employees’ knowledge of the range of resources available and how to use them effectively.”

The training provided was significantly less expensive than alternative options. If Natural England had sent its employees on standard, open courses instead, the cost per head would have been far greater, plus additional expenses for travel and accommodation may have been incurred. Equally, the organisation estimates that it would have had to have invested 60 days of staff time to develop course materials from scratch and deliver the course itself, in-house.

Now the training is complete, Natural England is all set to reap the benefits of consolidation. Employees can move easily between departments and roles, share data and work more collaboratively – without encountering skills barriers. Natural England will also no longer have to license and manage multiple systems which will deliver sustainable, long-term financial savings. It only has to maintain its numerous data sets in one format, which will save around 200 days of time. Furthermore, the organisation estimates that it could reduce software licensing and IT support costs by as much as a third.

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Meat Hygiene Service

Putting the right people in the right places to deliver high standards of service

During a wide-ranging business transformation programme, the Meat Hygiene Service used Esri’s ArcGIS Server to help make informed decisions about the future of its organisation. It then continued to use GIS to improve operational efficiency and enhance communication with partners.


Case study – Central Government


The Customer

The Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) is an executive agency of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that is responsible for protecting public health and animal welfare. It has a statutory duty to provide veterinary and meat hygiene inspectors on demand, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, across England, Scotland and Wales; slaughterhouses can only operate in the presence of MHS veterinary and meat hygiene inspectors.

The Meat Hygiene Service used ArcGIS to inform important decisions about the reorganisation of its business into regional clusters

ArcGIS helps the organisation to allocate the right people with the right skills to the best locations, improving operational efficiency and customer service

ArcGIS aids communication with partners, particularly vital during suspected outbreaks of animal disease

The Challenge

The MHS was committed to wide-ranging business transformation, led by senior executives with a clear vision of a more efficient organisation delivering a good and consistent service. Jenny Sergeant, IT Director, had a detailed knowledge of geographic information systems (GIS), but GIS was not used within MHS: “I wanted to try to raise an appetite for GIS with my colleagues, because I could see a thousand different ways that it could benefit the business, particularly during this period of transformation.” One day, she found some business users huddled around two large printed maps. “They were using pieces of coloured paper and sticky tape to mark out the proposed new areas that would be created from the business transformation. I just had to show them that there was a much better way.”

“ The Esri UK consultant was exceptionally good and worked very well with the person designated to become our new in-house GIS expert

Jenny Sergeant – IT Director

The Solution

MHS implemented a single repository for spatial data, based on ArcGIS Server and linked to existing business systems, so that GIS applications always use current data. Next, MHS identified business critical applications that could quickly add value during the restructuring. In addition, a consultant worked on-site to share expertise and transfer skills. “The Esri UK consultant was exceptionally good and worked very well with the person designated to become our new in-house GIS expert”, says Sergeant.

“ ArcGIS makes the business intelligence and knowledge that we have easier to understand. We can therefore use it to make better informed business decisions

Jenny Sergeant – IT Director

The Benefits

Sergeant believes ArcGIS was crucial in re-structuring MHS. “It allowed us to make informed decisions about the future and the direction we want to take”, she says. Business manager Martin Evans explains: “We used ArcGIS to create 37 clusters of similar business value, taking into account the numbers of plants, the locations of staff, the geography of the area and the road infrastructure.” Changes to the plans were reflected in the GIS in a couple of hours, rather than up to six weeks with paper maps. Regional offices have gone and business managers and veterinary managers are homebased and grouped in clusters. MHS can clearly see which plants produce which meat products and allocate staff based on location and individual skills and qualifications. MHS monitors clusters, making adjustments where necessary. For example, flexibly allocating staff to where they are most needed, improving cost efficiency and service levels.

Human resources is benefitting too. Identifying mutually convenient locations for training is easy with GIS (but difficult from a spreadsheet). “It helps us to cut costs by reducing the need for long journeys and overnight stays”, says Sergeant. In addition, MHS uses maps to explore sickness patterns; managers can drill down to identify trends by region, plant and individual. “ArcGIS makes the business intelligence and knowledge that we have easier to understand. We can therefore use it to make better informed business decisions.” The service levels MHS provides are more consistent across regions. “Using a map, we can easily see the number of animals per employee in each plant… We can then make sure that we allocate similar numbers of staff to plants of similar sizes. This enables us to deliver a consistent approach to law enforcement across the country.”

Sharing spatial information is also easier, because DEFRA and the FSA already used Esri GIS. When there is an outbreak of animal disease, for example, MHS can load a DEFRA map of the affected zone. “Instead of having to hand-draw the protection and surveillance zones on a map, we can immediately see which plants are not operating and which employees can be reallocated to other plants”, says Sergeant. Similarly, as soon as MHS receives notification of a suspected case of disease, it can distribute accurate maps to veterinary experts, so they can be alert for nearby cases.

MHS plans a new IT infrastructure for its refurbished offices, including ArcGIS over its intranet, so that “it will be available as a means for everyone to access any information that they might need to support all aspects of their work, using ArcGIS as an everyday business tool” says Sergeant.

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Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Moving towards a more efficient tendering process

With responsibility for a £5 million survey budget, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency needed a way to validate bids from contractors to ensure that it was getting good value for money. It used Esri’s ArcGIS platform to help create accurate estimates for work and manage contracts more tightly.

The Customer

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has a remit to ensure ‘Safer Lives, Safer Ships, Cleaner Seas’ on and around 10,500 miles of UK coastline. Headquartered in Southampton the geographically dispersed, 1170 strong staff of the MCA is responsible for implementing the Government’s maritime safety policy.

ArcGIS analyses multiple datasets and parameters to generate an estimated cost of survey information, which can then be compared to contractor quotes

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency can now better manage contract variations and prevent contractors from over quoting

The organisation can gain quantifiable and repeatable results, in much less time, than its previous subjective methods of estimating

The Challenge

One of the key deliverables for the MCA is the provision of survey information to maintain nautical charts (marine maps for mariners) through the Civil Hydrography Programme (CHP). The aim of the CHP is to ensure that UK waters are adequately surveyed to ensure safe passage for shipping in and around the coastal waters of the UK.

The 2004 survey season saw the first use of multi-beam echo sounding technologies to gather bathymetric depth information for inclusion in nautical charts. Although this technology provides greater efficiencies, it has made it difficult for the MCA when responding to contractors tendering for work. With different models of multi-beam sensor, used on different ships, operating in different sea conditions quotes for work now vary dramatically from contractor to contractor.

The MCA needed a solution which would enable it to validate contractors’ bids in an informed, consistent and fair manner, to ensure that the £5 million survey budget is spent in the most efficient and effective way, as well as providing a method for agreeing payment for changes to the survey programme that occurred mid-contract.

“ The MCA are pleased with the flexibility and functionality of the Esri products it has used to develop the new costing tool

The Solution

The resulting survey costing tool, developed with Esri ArcGIS technology by Esri UK, allows a number of geospatial datasets and parameters to be analysed in order to generate an estimated cost of survey.

The ArcGIS spatial analysis utilises data including:

  • The type of echo sounder proposed by the contractor. The survey tool can be configured to take into account proposals which use different survey tools in shallow and deep survey areas. The tool creates a grid of the survey area based on the swath width of the sensors.
  • The user defined survey area polygon. This polygon is used to clip out the data required to perform the analysis. Clipping the data reduces the processing overheads. Data including a grid based on soundings is re-sampled to ensure that the pixel size matches that of the sensor swath width.
  • Temporal information such as the maximum survey speed the ship may attain without degrading quality of survey data, downtime for crew rotation and ship turns.
  • The maximum, mean and standard deviation of wave heights in the survey area. This information, provided by the Met Office, enables the calculation of the likely downtime a survey vessel may experience per calendar month.

All of the spatial grids are added up to allow a cost to be assigned to each pixel. This in turn allows the calculation of estimated survey cost. A map of the number of survey lines required to complete the survey along with statistics on how the estimate has been generated, is automatically populated within a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. This spreadsheet forms the basis for contract negotiations between the MCA and survey contractors.

Example of the areas to be surveyed with user defined parameters

The Benefits

The use of the survey costing tool has enabled the MCA to analyse the datasets required to create accurate estimates for the commissioning of hydrographic surveys. The costing tool allows the MCA to:

  • Manage contract variations with a pre-agreed costing methodology preventing contractors over-quoting for variations.
  • Determine the cost of proposed survey areas quickly in advance, ensuring that the “cost” in the cost-benefit equation is known precisely when choosing areas to survey.
  • Providing quantifiable and repeatable results in much less time, rather than the old subjective, manual method of determining costs for surveys.
  • Supporting business cases that the MCA puts forward for additional funding for hydrography.

Output of results indicating total number of days required to complete the survey

The Future

The survey costing tool could be made available to sister organisations around the world. Due to the parameter driven nature of the application and its development in ArcObjects, the tool is easily customisable to allow for localised environmental factors. There are plans for the costing tool to be enhanced to be able to calculate risk to the mariner of not surveying a particular area. The tool could thus calculate risk and cost, and an algorithm could be written to determine where the MCA should survey in order to maximise the benefit from its budget.

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The Forestry Commission Scotland

Collaborating on an invaluable new service for Scottish landowners

A new Land Information Search service has been launched in Scotland that helps landowners improve their management of the natural environment. Developed through the close collaboration of three public sector organisations, the online tool is expected to contribute to sustained cost savings through the closer collaboration of multiple government departments.

The Customer

This is a story about a successful collaboration between three Scottish public sector organisations working under the umbrella of Scotland’s Environment Web. The project was initiated by Forestry Commission Scotland, but could not have been achieved without with the input and commitment of its partners: Scottish Natural Heritage and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

Landowners can save time and complete more successful bids for woodland management grants

Government organisations can process funding applications more efficiently

The tool uses ArcGIS web services to stream up-to-date data directly from a variety of organisations

The Challenge

Across Scotland, a variety of grants are available to landowners to help them manage woodlands and plant new trees. However, in order to access this funding, individuals and groups have to complete formal applications, providing detailed information about their land, so that its suitability for planting can be fully assessed.

To assist landowners in this application process, Forestry Commission Scotland had previously developed a searchable database of land information. However, this application was now many years old and in urgent need of renovation. “We knew that we didn’t have the resources internally to update and redevelop our Land Information Search tool by ourselves, but we were very aware that it had the potential to deliver value to Scottish land managers right across the rural sector,” says Howard Davies, Geo-Information Services Delivery Manager at Forestry Commission Scotland. “We therefore approached our partners and proposed a collaborative project.”

“ All three organisations used the same GIS technology – Esri’s ArcGIS Platform – and it was this commonality that ultimately made it incredibly easy for the partners to collaborate on the creation of the new Land Information Search (LIS) tool

The Solution

Each of the three organisations involved brought a different, complementary skill or asset to the initiative. SEPA had secured funding from the European Commission LIFE+ funding programme and created the Scotland’s Environment web site to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for all information about the natural environment in Scotland. It therefore had the ideal launch pad for the rejuvenated data service and the necessary underlying technical infrastructure. Scottish Natural Heritage was able to provide skilled programmers to help develop the solution; and Forestry Commission Scotland had the customer knowledge and business knowledge to lead the project.

Significantly, all three organisations used the same geographic information system (GIS) technology – Esri’s ArcGIS Platform – and it was this commonality that ultimately made it incredibly easy for the partners to collaborate on the creation of the new Land Information Search (LIS) tool.

Now available for anyone to use on the Scotland’s Environment web site, the new LIS service provides landowners with a fast and convenient way to access a vast amount of information about their land and neighbouring areas. Users simply enter a postcode or a place name, or zoom into the interactive map to find the area they are interested in. Next, they mark a point on the map or draw a polygon around the specific fields or areas that they want to plant or maintain. The online tool then returns a detailed report on land findings, which users can either view online or download as a pdf file.

Developed using ArcGIS web services, the online tool works by streaming relevant, upto-date data directly from a wide variety of different organisations. Searches are currently performed against over 40 different data sets, ranging from recent woodland surveys and forestry boundaries to Sites of Special Scientific Interest and groundwater reports. If users click on the ‘more details’ button on their individually created search results reports, they are automatically directed to web sites with further information. So, for example, if an Iron Age burial mound is found near the search area, users can go directly to information about this scheduled monument on the Historic Scotland web site with just one click from their reports.

“ The new Land Information Search service delivers considerable benefits for landowners and managers, making it far easier for them to maintain Scotland’s beautiful and invaluable rural environment

Howard Davies – Geo-Information Services Delivery Manager, Forestry Commission Scotland

Benefits

Through their collaboration, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and SEPA have succeeded in delivering a highly valuable and enhanced service for landowners. LIS currently attracts around 1,000 users per month, a figure that is expected to peak next year when new grant applications are invited for the next round of Scotland’s Rural Development Programme (SRDP).

For landowners applying for SRDP for example, the new LIS tool will save them an enormous amount of time. They will be able to find a great deal of the information they need to complete their funding applications in one place and have confidence that this data is up-to-date. “The new Land Information Search service delivers considerable benefits for landowners and managers, making it far easier for them to maintain Scotland’s beautiful and invaluable rural environment,” Davies says.

In tandem, the government organisations that administer rural funding applications will be able to operate more efficiently. It is anticipated that the quality of applications will be higher, saving time asking landowners to submit more information or pointing out information that materially impedes the feasibility of landowners’ plans. In the long term, these internal efficiency gains may translate into cost savings across multiple government organisations.

Although it was originally developed to support woodland management and tree planting, the LIS tool can now add value for a wide number of different users. Farmers and moorland managers for example, will now be able to use the service to access information pertinent to their development plans.

The remarkable thing about this project is that it is delivering exceptional benefits, but was created with minimal investment through the LIFE+ programme. Together, the three partners already had all the ArcGIS technology, skills, IT infrastructure and indeed, vision to build this valuable new public service. Davies claims: “It’s a great example of successful cross-government collaboration in Scotland.”

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