Category Archives: Data Management

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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Digital Transformation eBook

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Working smarter WHERE it matters

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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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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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Crossrail

Improving efficiency in a complex £15 billion construction project

The Crossrail project uses Esri’s ArcGIS platform to manage hundreds of simultaneous programmes of work and account for millions of new assets. The organisation has created a range of web, mobile and 3D GIS apps that help manage cost efficiency, ensure site safety and share information securely.

ArcGIS improves the productivity of Crossrail’s Asset Protection Engineers by up to 80%

The Challenge

The £15 billion pound Crossrail project is delivering a new railway for London and the South East of England. Europe’s largest infrastructure project, it encompasses 42km of tunnels and 10 new stations. The finished railway will be an accessible route of 40 stations from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through central London, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

A project on this scale requires a geographic information system (GIS) to record and manage the ever-changing inventory of assets and many simultaneous programmes of work. Crossrail’s existing GIS needed to be updated to ensure it was fully compatible with modern browsers and operating systems. The proposed new solution also needed to be more time efficient and offer the cutting-edge capabilities needed.

The use of a temporal slider tool in ArcGIS helps to improve estates management

The Solution

Following a thorough competitive evaluation, Crossrail Ltd entered into an Enterprise Licence Agreement (ELA) with Esri UK. With support from Esri UK’s Professional Services team, it then used Esri’s ArcGIS platform to develop an integrated suite of server-based, desktop, web, mobile and 3D applications in 14 months. The organisation now uses:

  • ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Server to prepare data and perform specialist data analysis
  • Portal for ArcGIS to make comprehensive, up-to-date information available to employees, designers and contractors via a secure intranet
  • ArcGIS Mobile and ArcGIS Collector App to allow field-based personnel to see and correct the locations of assets, using mobile devices
  • ArcGIS 3D capabilities to deliver three dimensional visualisations of facilities and their surroundings
  • ArcGIS Online and Esri UK’s Open Data Portal to publish selected content for the general public, media and third parties

Crossrail also elected to use Esri UK’s Data Service, which streams Ordnance Survey background mapping and other contextual data directly into Crossrail’s corporate GIS. The use of this service has rapidly improved the quality of background mapping and reduced the need for time-consuming data management, saving several hundred hours of effort per annum.

An ArcGIS Mobile GIS solution helps to improve site security and public safety

Benefits

The ArcGIS platform has given Crossrail the flexibility to innovate and introduce valueadding GIS services over time. The first of its new solutions are already delivering benefits for the business, such as:

Increased employee productivity
Crossrail’s Asset Protection Engineers now use an ArcGIS-based app to help them produce ground movement reports in response to claims where settlement issues have potentially arisen. The engineer can use the app to select, collate and present all of the information required, resulting in up to 80% less time spent on the report.

Effective estate management
The responsibility for construction sites passes from one contractor to another in different project phases. By using a temporal slider tool in ArcGIS, employees within the organisation can easily see which contractors are responsible for which parcels of land at any one time. The solution therefore improves understanding of liability and reduces the risk of unauthorised occupation over a multitude of construction sites, avoiding unnecessary delays and cost overruns.

More cost efficient operations
In another initiative, Crossrail is using ArcGIS to model facilities in 3D for the first time and prepare an invaluable 3D asset record for the new station operators. The 3D capabilities of ArcGIS have enhanced the understanding of the relationships between assets and facility spaces, enabling them to be maintained more cost efficiently. Infrastructure Managers can also identify and analyse issues on the ground with greater understanding than before.

Improved safety and security
When Crossrail’s employees survey construction sites they use the ArcGIS Collector App on mobile tablets to check the exact boundaries against land records, and enter any observations or on-site variations. Crossrail can then ensure that hoardings are correctly placed to secure sites and help keep the public separate from the works taking place on site. The 3D mapping of stations may also prove critical in the future for helping the station operator.

Clear communication with external audiences
Using the ArcGIS platform, Crossrail can easily share data about its routes, assets, tunnels and stations with third parties, the general public and the media. In the future, the organisation plans to make it possible for partners, such as Transport for London, to consume its data as web services or gain secure access to Crossrail’s central GIS portal. This approach will not only improve collaboration with partners; it is expected to also decrease the time that Crossrail spends managing content for third parties and reduce the risk of decisions being made on the basis of out-of-date information.

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National Grid: Gas Distribution

Re-energising a business with fully integrated GIS systems

National Grid has rolled out Esri’s ArcGIS platform as part of a business transformation programme that is expected to lead to cost savings of around £35 million per year. Up to 5,000 employees now use ArcGIS to work more productively, improve operational efficiency and make better informed decisions.

– Gas Distribution –


Case study – Gas


The Customer

National Grid plc is one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world. It owns and operates gas distribution assets, which deliver energy to millions of homes and businesses right across Great Britain and the North East USA.

National Grid’s Gas Distribution business has replaced 40 business systems with just four – one of which is ArcGIS – to simplify and optimise its systems landscape

The organisation is saving time and improving its overall efficiency in areas including network design and data capture in the field

The integration of GIS with SAP eliminates data duplication and makes more accurate information available to support decision making

The Challenge

In an industry that is heavily monitored and increasingly competitive, the judgments of the regulator are of utmost importance. Ofgem’s comparator ratings of National Grid’s Gas Distribution business had fallen significantly behind those of its UK peers. Furthermore, National Grid’s customer satisfaction statistics in this division were also lower than both its own expectations and the industry average.

These factors together provided National Grid with compelling evidence of the need for change in its Gas Distribution business. The company wanted to urgently improve its standing with Ofgem, but it also had to start to prepare for the new challenges it would face in the future.

Pete Massey, Director of the company’s Gas Distribution Transformation Programme, explains: “We were not performing as strongly as our peers in the industry, but this wasn’t our only concern. We saw that the world was changing to be much more customer focused, more innovative and cost-conscious. This new world that we were moving into was going to be even more challenging and would stretch our capabilities to the limit, so we knew that we had to transform.”

“ Most of our activities are location based, so we could see we needed to get more of our processes on digital maps and make GIS capabilities accessible to employees right across the business

Pete Massey – Director of Gas Distribution Transformation Programme, National Grid

The Solution

As a core part of its business transformation, National Grid took the radical decision to reduce its business systems from forty to four to create a simplified, standardised and integrated systems landscape. National Grid had been using Esri Geographic Information System (GIS) solutions for many years, and this was the only solution carried forward to the new IT environment. Here, Esri’s ArcGIS software was integrated with the SAP Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system, the SAP Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) and Syclo mobile applications.

The organisation recognised that Esri’s ArcGIS technology was the most intuitive way for users to work with network asset information, so it decided to make mapping technology accessible to the majority of its 5,000 UK employees, including its customer call centre staff and mobile engineers. “Most of our activities are location based, so we could see we needed to get more of our processes on digital maps and make GIS capabilities accessible to employees right across the business,” Massey says.

“ We have reduced a complex nine-step business process to six integrated stages, which has improved our efficiency significantly

Pete Massey – Director of Gas Distribution Transformation Programme, National Grid

Benefits

National Grid has succeeded in fundamentally changing the way that it works. It has redesigned many of its most critical business processes, to significantly improve cost efficiency and employee productivity. National Grid estimates that its entire transformation programme will deliver a cost saving of £35 million per year. “The use of GIS is a key part of this saving and provides new insights into our asset and business performance,” Massey says.

Previously, National Grid created designs for network extensions and replacements on paper and then manually generated the corresponding work orders. Now, engineers design new networks directly on maps in ArcGIS, and the work orders are produced automatically from these digital designs. “We have reduced a complex nine-step business process to six integrated stages, which improves our efficiency,” says Massey. “Our new integrated process also enables us to improve the accuracy of our cost estimates and cost tracking, create more precise network designs, make planned network changes more visible to the entire business and reduce the likelihood of manual errors.”

The use of ArcGIS on portable computers enables National Grid’s mobile engineers to locate assets and jobs much more easily and work more productively. If the ‘as-built’ infrastructure differs from the network plan, data capture technicians can easily mark up any changes on the asset map while in the field. These changes are sent automatically to a central quality assurance team and, from there, asset updates are fed directly into SAP. “The whole process is much slicker and a lot more efficient,” says Massey.

The integration of GIS with SAP eliminates data duplication and inconsistency and makes more accurate asset information accessible to support decision making. Highly intuitive, the GIS design solutions and simpler business processes have been a hit with employees.

“ The whole process is much slicker and a lot more efficient

Pete Massey – Director of Gas Distribution Transformation Programme, National Grid

The Future

National Grid is now considering the creation of online mapping solutions and GISbased ‘apps’, enabling consumers to more easily check the status of works in their neighbourhoods, book appointments and report faults. These new customer services, together with the efficiency and process improvements already achieved, are expected to lead to higher Ofgem rankings, stronger performance against industry peers and rising customer satisfaction.

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Joint Aeronautical Geospatial Organisation (JAGO)

Sharing intelligence and improving situational understanding in theatre

Part of the Ministry of Defence, JAGO provides vitally important geospatial services to support the British Armed Forces. The organisation used solutions from Esri’s ArcGIS platform to develop a mobile GIS capability that is transported into war zones to provide military teams with up-to-date, accurate situational intelligence.

The Customer

Within the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD), the Joint Aeronautical Geospatial Organisation (JAGO) is responsible for providing geospatial capabilities to support British Forces. In particular, the organisation develops, supports and manages geospatial Information Systems for use by 42 Engineer Regiment (Geographic) in operations at home and overseas.

The GIS solution, named DataMan, provides British Forces with a single, authoritative source of geospatial data – a common operational picture – for military operations

The 42nd Engr Regt uses DataMan to quickly produce accurate, customised briefings in hostile situations, such as conflict zones

Commanders can make faster tactical and strategic decisions, with the assurance that they are acting on the most up-to-date data and intelligence

The Challenge

The geospatial analysts of 42 Engr Regt (Geo) are required to employ their geospatial analysis and cartographic skills in cramped and very basic conditions in some of the world’s most inhospitable and dangerous environments. Operating with limited resources in small numbers, they work closely with UK forces and their coalition partners to collect local intelligence, analyse data and produce up-to-date mapping and briefing services for commanders.

Over time, the volume of data handled by the organisation had grown rapidly, leading to a number of data management challenges. Like many organisations, JAGO had built its capability around many individual desktop systems with no central data repository. This was resulting in multiple versions of the same data sets. “We needed to manage our data better to create a single view of the truth,” says Keith Mosley, capabilities development manager at JAGO. “At the same time, we also wanted to take advantage of new web services architectures to deliver data more effectively to military personnel, at home and in theatre.”

“ We needed to manage our data better to create a single view of the truth. At the same time, we also wanted to take advantage of new web services architectures to deliver data more effectively to military personnel, at home and in theatre

Keith Mosely –  Capabilities Development Manager

The Solution

JAGO developed a joined-up solution to extend and optimise its existing geospatial systems. It called upon Esri UK to help develop a new centralised system using Esri ArcGIS Server technology. The system called DataMan provides a central repository for all of JAGO’s geospatially referenced data and delivers data and mapping services to users via an easy to use web-browser interface over secure networks.

JAGO also received support from Helyx Secure Information Systems, a specialist defence consulting firm and Esri UK business partner. Mosley said: “We have a very close relationship with both Esri UK and Helyx and receive an excellent service from them.” When they are dispatched into hostile environments, teams from 42 Engr Regt (Geo) take everything they need to deploy DataMan within a set of ruggedised green boxes. An integral SQL server database manages the data; a web server handles the SharePoint web portal; and a GeoProxy facilitates the connection to the external network. The whole system can be active and accessible within hours.

JAGO also built a browser based application called GeoViewer using Esri’s Flex application programming interface (API) to access web services remotely and securely. GeoViewer makes it easy for engineers to add and manage data, perform analysis and print on demand. JAGO has developed different versions of its GeoViewer to meet the needs of teams in specific regions, such as a “Helmand GeoViewer” for use in southern Afghanistan.

“ Esri UK has helped us deliver a new level of understanding. We couldn’t do what we do without the support we get from Esri UK and Helyx

Keith Mosely –  Capabilities Development Manager

The Benefits

DataMan was launched in March 2010 and within nine months was receiving over two million hits per month from a wide range of users throughout the command chain. This rapid take-up is testimony to its ease-of-use and relevance to day to day operations. Users at all levels, with little or no GIS experience, can quickly access the same data – whether they are in barracks, on a training exercise or in theatre.

Users connect to DataMan and know that they are looking at the latest information. In the past, analysts would have worked from data CDs which meant it was difficult to track versions. “DataMan provides a single authoritative source of geospatial data for military operations,” says Mosley. “When anyone pulls data from DataMan they know that it is the best available, the most appropriate and the most up-to-date.”

This capability enables 42 Engr Regt (Geo) to quickly produce customised briefings in theatre, displaying information on everything from the likely locations of roadside bombs to the ethnicity of local communities.

Other organisations and agencies have been encouraged by the rapid adoption of DataMan and share data through the system. There are now over 350 data layers ranging from aerial reconnaissance and intelligence from ground patrols; through to information that was held by external organisations in spread sheets, such as lists of medical facilities in Afghanistan. This data is accessible to all units and partners working in the vicinity.

DataMan is used by commanders to inform orientation exercises, assess threats, plan missions, determine patrol routes, organise operational and tactical activities and conduct post-operation reviews. Because it delivers a wider range of reliable and current information – it is improving the quality and speed of tactical and strategic decision making. Mosley explains: “DataMan helps to improve situational awareness and understanding. Commanders can make better decisions about where they go and where they don’t go, based on a better understanding of current threats. It’s helping to save lives.”

“ DataMan helps to improve situational awareness and understanding. Commanders can make better decisions about where they go and where they don’t go, based on a better understanding of current threats. It’s helping to save lives

Keith Mosely –  Capabilities Development Manager

The Future

It has long been JAGO’s goal to deliver a common geospatial picture to the widest possible range of users – not just geo specialists. With the development of DataMan, JAGO believes that it is well on the way towards achieving this goal. It is extending the reach of its new capability, so that it can add value across more defence organisations.

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WSP Global

Creating an informed enterprise

Engineering company WSP Global has used Esri’s ArcGIS platform to make spatial data and GIS capabilities accessible to 2,800 employees in its UK business. This enterprise-wide solution, named iGIS, helps the company to work more efficiently, save money and deliver a higher quality of service for its customers.


Case study – Private Sector


The Customer

WSP Group plc is a global management and engineering consultancy. Whether designing, building or maintaining roads, bridges or civic amenities, knowledge of the built and natural environment is essential to their business and that of their clients.

Consultants can arrive on site better informed and produce high quality presentation materials, helping to improve customer service

The company saves money by eliminating unnecessary duplication and data management costs

iGIS allows employees to work more productively, so tasks that used to take hours can now be completed in a fraction of this time

The Challenge

When planning new road links, staff need to know the location of existing transport routes and centres of population; when designing new amenities, they need to know what environmental constraints might exist. The challenge was to make this information readily available to support staff in their day-to-day role.

Previously, WSP had a single data repository (including Ordnance Survey, NAVTEQ and demographic data), but used two different Esri tools for working with it: ArcIMS for around 100 non-specialist users, and ArcGIS Desktop to provide advanced functionality to around 300 specialists. WSP wanted to make data available to all 2,800 employees, irrespective of location and level of GIS expertise. Consequently, any new system had be intuitive and easy-to-use.

“ We wanted to give our employees easier access to maps and enable them to obtain the geographic information they need without having to ask a GIS specialist 

David Edem – UK GIS Manager at WSP

The Solution

Esri’s ArcGIS Server was identified as the best solution, partly because the Flex API (Application Programming Interface) in v9.3 makes it easy to create customised mapping applications, combining web services from ArcGIS Server with other web content, for delivery over an intranet or the web.

In addition, WSP chose Google Maps API Premier to provide access to background mapping and Google AJAX Search API for location finding.

Within four months, WSP developed a corporate mashup called iGIS to deliver GIS services to its UK employees. It integrates Google base maps and location services with the WSP’s geographic data assets and the powerful geo-processing capabilities of ArcGIS Server, which makes many terabytes of data instantly accessible across the entire UK operation.

The result is a user-friendly mapping application that allows users to perform such tasks as query population statistics by area, undertake proximity searches, sketch site boundaries and print maps on demand.

“ iGIS is rapidly becoming an essential business tool that is used regularly by a wide range of employees 

David Edem – UK GIS Manager at WSP

Benefits

Adoption was rapid (760 staff in the first fortnight and more than half the 2,800 UK staff within months) and the benefits too.

Data and functionality previously available to a few specialists is now available to all, taking GIS to new areas of the business. The intuitive iGIS interface, coupled with standard templates for figures and plans, has enabled GIS novices to produce high quality work for clients, including simple site location plans, analysing the demographics of an area, or undertaking complex spatial searches.

What previously took hours to pull together is now available in a fraction of the time, which is important in a business where many projects are charged on an hourly basis. iGIS allows WSP consultants to arrive on site with better knowledge of likely ground conditions and to offer a quicker, lower cost and higher quality service to clients.

ArcGIS Server has revolutionised data management: by having a central online data catalogue, WPS has saved money by eliminating unnecessary duplication and monitoring group spend more effectively to negotiate better rates.

Directors at WSP have been very impressed: “This is an exciting development of our GIS capability, which will materially improve the speed and efficiency of the delivery of a wide range of our project technical activities, calculations and presentation material,” says Mike Sheehan, Director, WSP Group. “iGIS helps to keep WSP competitive and stand out in the marketplace.”

Driven by positive feedback from staff and high demand, WSP plans to expand iGIS in the UK by adding further datasets and functionality and to roll it out globally across the entire group.

Recent improvements include adding new environmental and cultural heritage datasets and there are plans to add a geological map library catalogue showing where paper-based mapping has been purchased and where it is held.

In addition, WSP plans to use ArcGIS Server to develop value-added services for clients, whowill be able to access their own data, analyse the results, drill down into layers of information and print their own maps, all via a secure login.

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