Category Archives: Charities/NGOs

Canal and River Trust Open Data

Canal and River Trust Open Data

We are a charity, entrusted to care for 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales.

We all live in an increasingly fast-paced and crowded world. Our historic waterways are the antidote to this. They provide an unfenced, ‘no turnstiles’ opportunity to interact with history and nature next to soothing water.

Many people don’t realise that our waterways are only here thanks to the efforts of thousands of volunteers and the generous donations you give.

On top of maintaining 2,000 miles of canals and rivers, which are often over 200 years old, we are responsible for an enormous network of bridges, embankments, towpaths, aqueducts, docks and reservoirs and more.

From improving towpaths for cyclists and creating new wildlife habitats to maintaining our distinctive infrastructure, we are constantly working to make our canals and rivers the very best they can be.

And thanks to our waterways millions of children have the chance to experience local wildlife – even to see a kingfisher or an otter close up. Those struggling with the pressures of day-to-day life have somewhere to rejuvenate themselves. And many of us have a place on our doorstep where we can simply stretch our legs and soak up 200 years of history.

Our waterway network is a national treasure. It makes people’s lives better. We’re here to ensure that it is protected forever.

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Mines Advisory Group

Building a future without landmines

The Mines Advisory Group has removed nearly 5 million landmines and unexploded ordnance from countries around the world – but millions more remain undetected, putting communities at risk. The organisation is now using a suite of solutions from Esri’s ArcGIS platform to help clear landmines more quickly and save lives.

More lives saved, with land being cleared of unexploded ordnance more quickly

Additional land made accessible for farming, alleviating poverty in local communities

Greater safety for land clearance teams, thanks to better information about the terrain

The Challenge

The Mines Advisory Group (MAG) aims to save lives by removing the millions of landmines, booby traps and unexploded bombs that still lurk beneath the ground in countries ravaged by years of brutal war. In Cambodia, MAG has already cleared over 74,600 landmines and 224,400 items of weaponry, but the risk to human life remains immense. Undetected landmines and other abandoned explosive devices continue to kill and injure two people every week in Cambodia, deepening the poverty suffered by thousands of families by impeding their use of the land for farming.

Traditionally, teams of specialists from MAG, working on the ground in Cambodia, relied on a series of manual processes to collect, collate and share information in the field. Observations about search areas were recorded on paper and then typed into spreadsheets and reports at the base. Senior managers could not gain an overall picture of sites until the notes were collated and analysed centrally and, as a result, they were unable to make the rapid decisions required about how best to deploy resources.

“ Using ArcGIS, MAG can cover more ground, more quickly, enabling local communities to live safer lives, sooner

Shathel Fahs – Technical Field Manager, Team Leader, MAG

The Solution

MAG had been using Esri’s ArcGIS as a corporate geospatial information system (GIS) for many years, but the technology was used purely for recording data and generating maps. “Historically, GIS was about showing, on a map, the areas of land we had cleared,” says Greg Secomb, Global Information Systems Advisor, MAG. “We decided to start using GIS not only as a reporting tool, but also as an operational tool to help us improve our effectiveness in the field.”

Commencing in Cambodia, MAG in collaboration with HD R and D Program began to use ArcGIS Online and Collector App for ArcGIS to collect data in the field and make it instantly available to team leaders. “I know exactly where my teams are and how much ground they have cleared, without having to wait two months to get a map,” says Shathel Fahs, Technical Field Manager, Team Leader, at MAG. “It is so powerful to see the map progressing every day.”

At the same time, the organisation replaced all its paper-based reporting in the field in Cambodia with Survey123 for ArcGIS. Described by Fahs as “amazing”, this mobile survey app is used by 17 teams across the country to collect geo-referenced information on all unexploded ordnance (UXO) detected, in dual languages. The data collected is shared instantly via ArcGIS Online and is more accurate, as there is no risk of mistakes occurring during the re-typing of handwritten notes.

MAG now also uses drones in Cambodia to fly autonomously over contaminated areas and photograph the land, in high resolution. Using Esri’s Drones2Map for ArcGIS app, it then transfers these images directly to ArcGIS Online, where the information is instantly accessible to operatives working in the area. As a result, team leaders no longer have to rely on a visual assessment of the terrain, limited to the area that is within the range of their eyesight; instead they have a detailed understanding of the entire area, including beyond hills and within dense forests.

“ We have pioneered a new way of operating in Cambodia and are excited to roll it out to all our teams, working in over 20 other countries

Greg Secomb – Global Information Systems Advisor, MAG

The Benefits

Faster clearance of deadly explosive devices
MAG is now able to clear land and remove potentially deadly devices in Cambodia more quickly, as it has a far better understanding of the terrain. For instance, the insight gained from Drone2Map for ArcGIS allows team leaders to better anticipate when and where they will need mechanical clearing machinery and other specialised resources. Team leaders can also change plans and redirect their teams spontaneously, as ArcGIS Online gives them a rapid picture of the situation on the ground. “Using ArcGIS, MAG can cover more ground, more quickly, enabling local communities to live safer lives, sooner,” Fahs says.

Activities prioritised to alleviate poverty
The use of ArcGIS is also helping MAG to alleviate poverty in Cambodia. If a stretch of land is photographed by drone and identified by ArcGIS Online as being suitable for farming, MAG can prioritise the clearance of this area. As Fahs says, “Instead of just relying on informants for local knowledge, we can identify potential agricultural land ourselves. We can see the whole picture.”

Improved safety for mine clearance teams
With more accurate and current information available at base and in the field, MAG can make better decisions to help protect workers. The organisation can view historical data on ArcGIS Online and see how many devices were found in other similar areas and the density of them. It can then use this information to gauge the likely level of threat and ensure everyone in the team is fully briefed on what kinds of devices to expect.

A more productive and efficient global organisation
ArcGIS has undoubtedly improved the efficiency of MAG’s operations in Cambodia. Indeed, five people are now each saving up to two days effort a week because they no longer need to manually enter data into spreadsheets and databases. These productivity gains will soon be multiplied, as MAG is poised to introduce the same suite of ArcGIS products throughout its entire global organisation. “We have pioneered a new way of operating in Cambodia and are excited to roll it out to all our teams, working in over 20 other countries,” Secomb says.

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The Mighty Creatives

Expanding cultural education by making connections with maps

Having decided to use ArcGIS Online to build a mapping tool to promote and deliver its services, The Mighty Creatives utilised Esri UK’s ArcGIS Online Launchkit to get up and running quickly. This gave the charity the skills and confidence to make digital mapping a central element of its service offering.

Provided staff with the skills needed to create their own maps without external advice or expertise

Gave the team the confidence to exploit digital mapping as a tool to promote the charity’s services

Visualisation of its own data gave the charity new insight into operational information and processes

The Challenge

The charity, The Mighty Creatives, believe that creativity is vital to every child’s development and that, unfortunately, there are too many limited opportunities for children and young people to be creative and to play. Their mission is to change this and to achieve their goal they bring together schools, arts organisation, communities and businesses forging partnerships and enabling collaboration.

To support this creative drive, The Mighty Creatives needed a visual, easy to use, way of enabling organisations to easily discover other organisations working across the East Midlands.

The Mighty Creatives identified that ArcGIS Online from Esri UK could be used to create the solution they needed, but were unsure how to get started. The team had limited experience in geography or digital mapping and without any technical skills they lacked the confidence to move forward.

Furthermore, there were many important questions:

  • What data should we use?
  • How should that data be formatted, imported and managed?
  • How should we present the data in an interesting form?
  • How can we make the system easy to access?
  • How will the new tool work with our existing CRM system?

“ Within the first half an hour, the Esri Consultant swept away our confusion, so we could clearly see what we could do with ArcGIS online and where to start

Laurie Parsons – Development Coordinator (Arts Alliances) – The Mighty Creatives

The Solution

The Mighty Creatives found the answers in the form of an ArcGIS Online Launchkit from Esri UK. An Esri UK Consultant carried out the two-day program at The Mighty Creatives’ office, helping to get the new tool live in the shortest possible time. The Launchkit included support with the installation and configuration of the ArcGIS platform, demonstration of the capabilities of ArcGIS online, and advice and training on how to implement the new tool.

The Consultant put an additional focus on several key areas that were important to The Mighty Creatives:

  • Understanding how to present geographic information so that the visualisation accurately represents the underlying data, without distortion
  • The capabilities of different packages, such as ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS online, and which tools to use in different situations
  • How to use storymaps to create engaging online content and get across the story they wanted to tell

After the Launchkit was completed, The Mighty Creatives quickly built its first online mapping tool. Since then a further five searchable maps have been developed and the team have now started building storymaps. Future plans are increasingly challenging and sophisticated, including for example, demographic analysis to identify geographic distributions of demand and match these with local supply.

“ Working closely with our Esri consultant through the Launchkit instilled confidence in our abilities to create digital maps and use them to promote our service

Laura Bates – Development Manager (Arts Alliances) – The Mighty Creatives

The Benefits

Self sufficiency
The Esri UK Launchkit rapidly provided The Mighty Creatives with the skills needed to create their own maps without the need to call in external advice or expertise. This also gives them the foundations to take on future challenges.

Confidence
An organisation largely composed of artistic, creative and educational professionals with a lack of confidence in their knowledge of technology have now developed the confidence necessary to use and exploit digital mapping as a tool.

Insight
Through its own maps, The Mighty Creatives could see it its own information in a new light, prompting the team to question current processes, reflect on them and see new ways to operate.

Teamwork
Building the mapping tool was a shared learning experience, requiring input from across the team. This promoted buy-in from all parts of the organisation and made a positive contribution to the working environment.

Like many charities The Mighty Creatives needs to carefully manage its expenditure, so it can optimise its reach and impact; the investment in and ArcGIS Online Launchkit was therefore a relatively significant outlay. However, the charity believes that the experience has been exceptionally valuable and is helping the organisation forge new partnerships and drive collaboration.

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RSPB

Optimising the use of drones to protect vulnerable species

The UK’s largest nature conservation charity, the RSPB, is using Esri’s Drone2Map solution to help it process, analyse and share imagery captured by drones. As a result, the organisation can now make more effective use of aerial images, to help it improve habitats and protect endangered bird species and other wildlife.

Improved understanding of the types of habitats and vegetation on reserves

More effective monitoring of the success of habitat interventions over a period of time

Cost savings from reduced field work and better operational planning

The Challenge

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) manages over 200 nature reserves in the UK, to protect and nurture vital habitats for hundreds of species of birds and other wildlife. These reserves range from craggy islands with steep cliffs to vast wetlands and remote moors. Monitoring changes in food sources, habitats and breeding populations in these areas can be very difficult, due in part to their inaccessibility and also to the necessity of minimising any disturbance to the wildlife.

To address these challenges, the RSPB contracts specialist companies to fly over its reserves and take aerial photography. The imagery supplied is extremely valuable, but this approach is too expensive and inflexible to use often and across all reserves. With the decreasing cost of drones and the improving quality of lightweight digital cameras, some of the RSPB’s reserve managers started to acquire drones to enable them to capture aerial imagery on demand. The RSPB was keen to support and encourage this use of drones, but didn’t have a standard way of processing the imagery captured, storing it centrally and making it accessible to everyone in the organisation.

“ We can publish drone imagery to ArcGIS Online with a few clicks of a button, and thereby make it possible for anyone in the organisation to view the maps, zoom into specific regions and examine habitat types

Adrian Hughes – Head of GIS Services, RSPB

The Solution

The RSPB is a long-time user of Esri’s ArcGIS platform and selected Esri’s Drone2Map solution to underpin its new centralised approach to processing, analysing and sharing aerial imagery. “Drone2Map was the obvious solution for us to use, as it integrates seamlessly with our other Esri products,” says Adrian Hughes, Head of GIS Services at the RSPB. “It is also very cost effective for us, as we can share a single license between multiple users.”

Using Drone2Map, the RSPB can now convert aerial image files, captured via drones, into a single, seamless, geospatially-referenced map of areas of interest within reserves. It can then publish the map directly to the cloud, using ArcGIS Online, and make it available to staff to view via the organisation’s in-house ArcGIS platform, known internally as Merlin. “Drone2Map is really easy to use,” Hughes says. “We can publish drone imagery to ArcGIS Online with a few clicks of a button, and thereby make it possible for anyone in the organisation to view the maps, zoom into specific regions and examine habitat types.”

RSPB employees can also use ArcGIS Pro to undertake sophisticated analyses of the drone imagery and gain a deeper insight into habitat types. For example, a team working at the Abernethy Reserve in Scotland has used Drone2Map and ArcGIS Pro to analyse aerial imagery, classify different types of vegetation growth across the reserve and quantify changes in the growth of essential food sources for bird species such as the golden plover, black grouse and capercaillie.

“ Drone2Map has created a better understanding of our reserves, changed our work programmes and improved our management plans

Richard Humpidge – RSPB Reserve Manager

The Benefits

More effective habitat conservation
Using Drone2Map, the RSPB is able to gain a deeper understanding of its reserves and, as a result, implement more effective habitat conservation schemes. At the Fetlar Nature Reserve in the Shetland Islands, for example, a site manager completely changed the management of a swampland area, after viewing aerial imagery with ArcGIS and realising that there was too much open water on the land. Pools of water in the reserve were subsequently filled, creating a far more suitable habitat for the red-necked phalarope. “Drone2Map has created a better understanding of our reserves, changed our work programmes and improved our management plans,” says Richard Humpidge, an RSPB reserve manager.

Sensitive and cost-effective observations of nesting birds
With its new centralised system for processing and sharing drone imagery, the RSPB can now make greater use of drones to monitor nesting birds from a distance, without disturbing them. Recently, Drone2Map was used to process imagery taken of the only known breeding pair of little gulls in the UK. Drone2Map has also been used to create seamless images of inaccessible cliffs, allowing staff to count the number of nesting guillemots. “RSPB staff used to hire a boat and manually count seabirds on the cliff face, from the water,” says Humpidge. “By not hiring the boat, we saved the equivalent of the cost of a drone and were able to undertake a far more accurate count of the birds as well.”

Improved monitoring of habitat interventions
Using Drone2Map and ArcGIS, RSPB will be able to compare and analyse drone imagery taken at regular intervals over a period of time to monitor changes that occur following the introduction of new habitat interventions. In Swindale Beck Valley, in the Lake District, the RSPB has been involved in a project to restore the original meandering course of the river, to slow the water flow and encourage the growth of aquatic plants that are a valuable food source for birds. The organisation has used Drone2Map to create a 3D image of the new river course and will use this as the base layer image to monitor future changes in the valley.

More cost effective operations
Over time, the RSPB expects to make significant cost savings from its increasing use of drones and ability to analyse drone imagery effectively. Not only will it save money from not commissioning light aircraft to take aerial photography; it will also make savings from better operational planning. For example, when implementing habitat management schemes, it will be able to view images on Merlin, see the best access routes for diggers and more precisely identify the best locations for works to take place, saving days of field work.

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National Trust

Stemming the decline in Britain’s biodiversity

One of the largest landowners in the UK, the National Trust is now playing a vital role in helping to stem the decline in Britain’s biodiversity. It is using Esri’s ArcGIS platform to identify threatened habitats on its land, implement conservation schemes and monitor the success of wide-ranging initiatives to create thriving natural environments.

High-nature habitats around the country in National Trust care are protected, improved and enlarged

Bog mosses, which make peat, are beginning to recover in degraded bogs in the Peak District

Coastal habitats will be restored so that they are better able to accommodate rising sea-levels

The Challenge

A staggering 60% of species in the UK have decreased in number over the last 50 years, and many native plants, birds and animals are at serious risk of becoming endangered.  With an estate of over 250,000 hectares in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the National Trust wanted to play a greater role in protecting and nurturing biodiversity in the UK.

As part of a new strategy, called ‘Playing Our Part’, the organisation set out to implement new approaches to land management to help restore wildlife.  However, it didn’t have a comprehensive database of the many habitat types in its historic properties, monuments, countryside and coastal areas, in one centralised location.  “We were engaged in managing a number of particularly important wildlife sites, with a high nature value, but didn’t have a complete picture of the biodiversity across all our land and water, all around the country,” explains Huw Davies, Head of Conservation Information at the National Trust.

“ For the first time in its 120-year history, the National Trust now has a single, centralised source of information about habitats on its land, which it can use to plan, prioritise, implement and monitor wildlife conservation schemes

Huw Davies – Head of Conservation Information, the National Trust

The Solution

Using Esri’s ArcGIS Server solution, the National Trust pulled together habitats data from surveys undertaken at specific properties, and at regional-level, over the previous 30 years. “For the first time in its 120-year history, the National Trust now has a single, centralised source of information about habitats on its land, which it can use to plan, prioritise, implement and monitor wildlife conservation schemes,” Davies says.

GIS specialists at the National Trust analyse the data in the habitats database, using Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop solution, and identify the best opportunities to make habitats bigger, better and more joined up. The trust can identify opportunities for habitat enhancement and enlargement, working in partnership with other landowners beyond the trust’s boundaries.

Furthermore, National Trust is now beginning to use Esri’s Collector App for ArcGIS to verify, expand and enhance its centralised habitats database. Rangers working on the land can collect habitat and biodiversity data in the field on smartphones, to monitor the evolving condition of land, water quality and habitats. All data collected in the field is synchronised with ArcGIS Server, giving the National Trust what Davies describes as “the view from the ground” and constantly putting better information back into the trust’s central systems.

“ ArcGIS is a pivotal tool that is helping the National Trust to identify priority habitats and then intervene appropriately to enrich and extend the biodiversity of its land

Huw Davies – Head of Conservation Information, the National Trust

The Benefits

Firm evidence for prioritising conservation schemes
The new centralised habitats database gives the National Trust a firm evidence base for identifying, planning and prioritising conservation schemes. “ArcGIS is a pivotal tool that is helping the National Trust to identify priority habitats and then intervene appropriately to enrich and extend the biodiversity of its land,” Davies says. “It helps us understand where the best opportunities for nature are, so we can focus our resources in the right locations and work with partners to achieve the most positive impact on the natural environment.”

Improved implementation and monitoring of projects
ArcGIS also plays a key role during the implementation of habitat restoration programmes and in monitoring the success of the trust’s interventions. For instance, in the large tracts of degraded Blanket Bog and Upland Heathlands in the Peak District, the National Trust is using ArcGIS at the desktop and in the field to locate and block damaging drainage channels and conduct vegetation surveys. This is a particularly significant project because the organisation is responsible for 28% of England’s entire priority habitats in the uplands, and the bog mosses that decompose to make the carbon sink that is peat, are beginning to recover as a direct result.

Greater understanding of long-term threats to biodiversity
By using ArcGIS to perform detailed habitats analysis, the National Trust is gaining a far greater understanding of factors like land-use and climate change that may pose a serious, long-term risk for threatened species. For instance, the National Trust has modelled the impact of higher sea levels on its 775 miles of coastline using ArcGIS. It is now applying the intelligence it has gained to identify high-nature coastal habitats that may become changed, understand the implications for species and assess opportunities for coastal habitats to move inland.

New ways to encourage support and communicate success
In the future, the National Trust plans to make use of Esri’s ArcGIS Online to create engaging Story Maps to help it educate the general public about the threats to biodiversity and the vital importance of its conservation activities. Davies says, “Should we need to set up an appeal to help fund a scheme to protect a particular habitat type or wildlife area, we will be able to use the power of ArcGIS Online and Story Maps to do that. We will also be able to create Story Maps to demonstrate the success of our current initiatives and publicise the great work that the National Trust is doing to improve the fate of the UK’s amazing nature.”

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Westcountry Rivers Trust

Leading a collaborative approach to river conservation

The Westcountry Rivers Trust is safeguarding fragile river environments in the South West of England, by helping large groups of stakeholders to reach consensus about river usage and conservation. It uses Esri’s ArcGIS Online and data from the national umbrella body, The Rivers Trust, to clarify the ecological impacts of human activity on rivers and prioritise schemes to improve water quality and biodiversity.

Improved understanding of environmental challenges among diverse groups

More effective and collaborative decision making about conservation priorities

Targeted conservation projects that address urgent environmental issues

The Challenge

Rivers in the South West of England flow hundreds of miles, crossing county borders and traversing land owned or managed by as many as 2,000 stakeholders, ranging from local authorities and utilities, to water sports operators and farmers. These organisations, groups and individuals have a shared responsibility to work together to protect their nearby river environments for wildlife and future generations, but can often have widely differing points of view.

Like other rivers trusts throughout the UK, the not-for-profit organisation Westcountry Rivers Trust works with large groups of such stakeholders as part of a catchment-based approach to managing river courses in its region. It aims to facilitate open communication and gain agreement from all groups involved to pave the way for river conservation schemes. “Everyone has their own language for talking about rivers,” observes Sarah Wigley, Data and Evidence Officer for Westcountry Rivers Trust. “Commercial organisations, government bodies and community groups all use different terminology and have very different priorities for river use. Our challenge is to find a way to help everyone understand each other’s needs and to see the bigger picture.”

“ Interactive, digital maps give people from varied backgrounds a common language for collaboration and communication

Sarah Wigley – Data and Evidence Officer, Westcountry Rivers Trust

The Solution

In 2013, the national, umbrella organisation, The Rivers Trust, was assigned by Defra the role of supporting river catchment partnerships across the country (as part of the Catchment-Based Approach initiative). Part of this role was to encourage the use of data and evidence in river catchment management.  Since then, The Rivers Trust has gathered and published a wide range of datasets using Esri’s cloud-based ArcGIS Online platform, including information on river flooding, commercial activity, biodiversity, water quality, land character and soil typology.  All this data is attributed with river catchment boundary information, so it is easy for catchment partnerships nationwide to use. This online data portal is a valuable resource and has already promoted the use of ArcGIS Online amongst many local partnerships.

The Westcountry Rivers Trust uses Esri’s ArcGIS Online and the data from The Rivers Trust to analyse issues of particular environmental concern, comprehend river ecosystems and present the information clearly to river catchment partners.  It uses interactive, digital maps during workshops and meetings, and produces high quality maps for reports to help multiple stakeholders, from any background, better understand and appreciate key issues.  The trust is also beginning to use ArcGIS Online to create persuasive Story Maps that help to highlight issues and explain conservation projects in a highly visual and engaging format.

“ Over time, ArcGIS Online will play a key role in helping river catchment partnerships to improve river quality and biodiversity

Sarah Wigley – Data and Evidence Officer, Westcountry Rivers Trust

The Benefits

Clearer communication of environmental issues
The Westcountry Rivers Trust has been able to significantly improve the effectiveness of catchment-based partnerships in the South West by using ArcGIS Online to present complex information, exceptionally clearly, on maps. Groups and individuals, who may not previously have realised that their commercial, agricultural or leisure activities were having an impact on water quality or biodiversity, can now better understand the environmental consequences. As Wigley says, “ArcGIS can open peoples’ eyes to the broader issues.”

More collaborative, multi-party decision making
Critically, the use of ArcGIS Online helps all of the diverse organisations and individuals involved in catchment-based partnerships to reach collective agreement. “Interactive, digital maps give people from varied backgrounds a common language for collaboration and communication,” Wigley says. “It’s an effective way to bring people together, at the same level, to understand different points of view and work together to make decisions.”

Implement more targeted conservation projects
By using ArcGIS to analyse data on river catchment areas more systematically, the Westcountry Rivers Trust is now able to easily identify issues of concern and can better prioritise conservation projects. In Cornwall, for example, the Westcountry Rivers Trust was able to use ArcGIS to identify declining fish populations and instigate a project to remove barriers at strategic sites along two key rivers to improve access to up-stream breeding areas. “Over time, ArcGIS Online will play a key role in helping river catchment partnerships to improve river quality and biodiversity,” Wigley says.

Raised awareness of the need for river conservation
Finally, by creating Story Maps, the Westcountry Rivers Trust now has a new means of raising public awareness of river conservation issues and the impact of poor land practices alongside rivers. “Story Maps are a good way of presenting scientific data to members of the public in a way that they can easily understand,” Wigley says. “We plan to use Story Maps increasingly in the future to engage the wider community in river conservation programmes.”

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The RSPB

Helping new ideas to take flight

A longstanding customer of Esri UK, the RSPB engaged one of Esri UK’s Embedded Product Specialists to help  leverage more business value from its use of Esri’s ArcGIS Platform and put new ideas into action.  Now, the charity is equipped with a suite of innovative apps, as well as the skills and knowledge to develop new GIS solutions in-house, to support the charity’s critical conservation work.

Enhanced in-house GIS skills and knowledge

Accelerated project delivery

A strong basis for ongoing GIS innovation

The Challenge

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is the country’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone ‘to give nature a home’. As a registered charity, it has a responsibility to its supporters to ensure that every donation it receives is wisely invested and fully optimised so that the organisation can help protect wildlife and the places where it lives.

For many years, the RSPB has used geographic information system (GIS) technology from Esri UK to help it map and understand complex factors, ranging from migration patterns to diminishing natural landscapes. The organisation has full access to the ArcGIS platform, through its license agreement, but realised that it wasn’t exploiting all of the advanced capabilities. It was keen to explore how it might make more optimal use of ArcGIS to create public-facing education resources, improve the efficiency of surveys in the field and raise the profile of key campaigns.

“ Having a specialist from Esri UK as a part of our team helped us realise what is possible with the latest ArcGIS technology.  We are now making far greater use of ArcGIS to support our conservation, education and fundraising activities

Adrian Hughes – Head of GIS Technical Services, the RSPB

The Solution

To meet these aspirations, the RSPB engaged a highly skilled Embedded Product Specialist (EPS) from Esri UK. As an expert in the ArcGIS Platform, the EPS was able to quickly set up ArcGIS Online for the RSPB and start not only designing, but also delivering a range of GIS apps and solutions. Embedded with, and managed by, RSPB staff, she became a highly valued member of the organisation’s GIS team for three days a week, over a twelve week period.

The EPS worked on a range of specific projects including:

  • The authoring of StoryMaps to showcase RSPB projects, particularly the adventures of Lazaros the Egyptian Vulture (map) and a Turtle Dove tracking exercise (map)
  • The deployment of Collector for ArcGIS and Survey123 for ArcGIS for bird monitoring and habitat mapping in the field using smartphones
  • The creation of an ‘ArcGIS Workspace’ on the RSPB’s internal portal, populated with best practice documentation and resources
  • The delivery of training courses, lunch-time knowledge-transfer sessions and other initiatives to improve the skills of the RSPB’s in-house team
  • Recommendations for how to further extend the use of the ArcGIS Platform and innovate with GIS

“ With the hands-on involvement of Esri UK’s specialist, we delivered this mobile survey solution in half the time that we might otherwise have needed to develop it in house

Adrian Hughes – Head of GIS Technical Services at the RSPB

The Benefits

The RSPB gained significant value from its appointment of an EPS. The long-term benefits include:

Greater return on GIS investment

With the support and guidance of the EPS, the RSPB is now gaining an enhanced return from its existing investment in ArcGIS. “GIS is a very fast-moving field,” says Adrian Hughes, Head of GIS Technical Services at the RSPB. “Having a specialist from Esri UK as a part of our team helped us realise what is possible with the latest ArcGIS technology. We are now making far greater use of ArcGIS to support our conservation, education and fundraising activities.”

Enhanced in-house skills and knowledge

Critically, the EPS brought up-to-date skills and knowledge to the RSPB and passed them on to members of staff, boosting their own competencies. She delivered a range of training courses, as well as focussed one-to-one, webinar and lunchtime sessions to help RSPB staff learn about, and put into practice, the latest capabilities of the ArcGIS Platform. She also led best practice and ‘tips and tricks’ discussions and created invaluable learning materials for the RSPB’s ‘ArcGIS Workspace’.

 Accelerated project delivery

In one project, the EPS used Collector for ArcGIS and Survey123 for ArcGIS – two tools that are included within the ArcGIS Platform – to create a mobile survey solution for the RSPB. The app is now being used by volunteers to collect data about an endangered seabird, the Little Tern, in the field on smartphones. “With the hands-on involvement of Esri UK’s specialist, we delivered this mobile survey solution in half the time that we might otherwise have needed to develop it in house,” Hughes says.

Improved citizen engagement

In another initiative, the EPS developed Story Maps to make RSPB data engaging for members of the public. For instance, the Story Map about Lazaros the Egyptian Vulture reached over 40,000 people via the RSPB’s social media channels and prompted positive responses from RSPB followers. Hughes notes, “The specialist showed us how quickly we can create captivating content to help engage the public and convey the urgency and importance of our conservation work.”

A platform for innovation in conservation

Particularly in the areas of web and mobile GIS, the EPS inspired the RSPB team to innovate. For instance, the EPS helped to test a drone-to-map solution that will, in the future, enable the RSPB to collect vital habitat data more cost effectively. Summing up, Hughes says, “Without doubt, our appointment of an EPS has helped us realise just how much we can do with GIS to support the vital work of the RSPB now and in the future.”

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MapAction

Saving lives in humanitarian disasters around the world

Working at the scene of some of the world’s most devastating humanitarian disasters, this volunteer-driven charity uses Esri’s ArcGIS to produce up-to-date maps for humanitarian aid organisations. Its new Kiosk product makes vitally important location-based intelligence available to aid workers in digital formats, helping them to respond more quickly and, ultimately, help save more lives.

The Customer

When earthquakes or floods occur, epidemics spread and conflicts erupt, humanitarian aid agencies have to be able to respond quickly. But before they can act, they need to know which roads are still passable, where vulnerable people are sheltering, what facilities are available nearby and much more besides.

MapAction is the only volunteer-driven charity of its kind that provides rapid, on-the-ground mapping and precise situational data to humanitarian aid agencies in response to a humanitarian disaster, or during a humanitarian crisis. This critical and timely insight enables international aid organisations to react promptly and operate more effectively to help save lives and minimise suffering.

The Kiosk gives a common operational picture to all responders and agencies working on-the-ground in a disaster situation

MapAction can now make a larger range of maps available to more people, more quickly, which speeds up the response to evolving crises

The use of ArcGIS enables MapAction to facilitate data sharing even in regions where there is no or poor Internet connectivity

The Challenge

Since its inception in 2002, MapAction has become an indispensable part of the global response to humanitarian crises. As soon as its volunteer teams, who are specially trained in disaster response, arrive in affected areas, their services are in high demand from multiple organisations. Consequently, on-the-ground teams face growing pressure to produce and distribute more maps, more quickly.

MapAction is also experiencing increased demand for customised maps. For example, search and rescue teams may need a specific map relating to a village that has been cut off by a landslide. MapAction volunteers try to respond to as many of these individual requests as they possibly can, but their time is stretched.

To address both these issues, MapAction wanted to find a way to share its maps and data in digital formats in the field, making it possible for aid agencies to obtain additional copies of maps more quickly and create customised mapping intelligence products for themselves. However, in areas of conflict and natural disaster there is often either no Internet access, or poor connectivity, and this inevitably presents a significant barrier to digital data sharing.

“ The MapAction Kiosk enables us to provide maps and situational information to more people, very quickly, helping them to make better, faster decisions and alleviate human suffering

Liz Hughes – CEO, MapAction

The Solution

Esri UK has supported the work of MapAction for over twelve years, and ArcGIS, Esri’s geographic information system (GIS) platform, plays a pivotal role in the delivery of MapAction’s emergency mapping service. MapAction secured funding for a new ‘selfservice’ mapping facility, and sought out the expertise of Esri UK’s professional services team to help it design and deliver this inventive project using ArcGIS.

Named the MapAction Kiosk, the new GIS solution developed operates using the principles of web mapping and runs on a lightweight laptop connected to a powerful WiFi router. Aid workers in the vicinity of MapAction’s field base can connect to the Kiosk via WiFi and print additional copies of any maps produced by MapAction’s volunteer team. In addition, they can view interactive maps, zoom into specific regions and turn on required data layers to create any customised maps that they might need to inform aid missions. Finally, responders can use the Kiosk to download MapAction’s up-to-date spatial data and incorporate it into their own GIS systems.

“The challenge of developing a data sharing solution for use in the field, with no Internet, was at first quite daunting,” admits Matt Pennells, web mapping project manager and long-standing MapAction volunteer. “However, we achieved our goal using ArcGIS and, incredibly, can now deliver web mapping in areas where there is no web.”

“ We achieved our goal using ArcGIS and, incredibly, can now deliver web mapping in areas where there is no web

Matt Pennells – CEO, web mapping project manager, MapAction volunteer

Benefits

MapAction will continue to produce the paper maps that aid organisations around the world have come to rely on. However, now, this unique charity will also be able to make its invaluable location-based intelligence accessible in digital formats to many more people, more quickly, to improve the effectiveness of life-saving humanitarian missions.

Notably, the MapAction Kiosk will help the charity to distribute its maps to aid workers who might otherwise not have had access to a paper copy. It will therefore make situational data accessible to a wider audience and facilitate greater collaboration between multiple aid agencies and local groups. Pennells says: “The Kiosk helps us to give a common operational picture to all responders and agencies working on-the- ground in a disaster situation. The sooner they have this shared knowledge, the closer they can work together to reach people at risk.”

In addition, the Kiosk gives aid workers the ability to create their own customised maps for the first time. They can gain instant access to the mapping intelligence they need – in the precise format they need it – to enable them to respond quickly to emerging new scenarios.

Use of the Kiosk will free up time for MapAction’s field teams, enabling them to develop additional specialised maps that can really make a difference to the success of aid missions. Indeed, Pennells estimates, “In a ten day deployment, the self-serve function of the Kiosk could save volunteers as much as half a day of printing and administration time.”

MapAction’s CEO Liz Hughes is convinced that the Kiosk will play a vital role in helping the charity to safeguard vulnerable communities. She says: “In most disasters there is a direct correlation between the speed of the response and the number of lives saved. The MapAction Kiosk enables us to provide maps and situational information to more people, very quickly, helping them to make better, faster decisions and alleviate human suffering.”

MapAction.org

More information on MapAction

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