Category Archives: Featured

Wessex Water

Achieving excellence in customer communications

With 2.7 million customers across the south west of England, Wessex Water is constantly striving to enhance the effectiveness and value of its external communications. The organisation has recently leveraged Esri’s ArcGIS technology not only to diversify its communications channels, but also to significantly improve the quality and timeliness of the information it shares.

An ArcGIS web service gives customers easier access to information about maintenance works

The integration of GIS and SMS messaging facilitates timely notifications of water supply issues

Esri’s Operations Dashboard improves customer communications in the call centre

The Challenge

Wessex Water was the top scoring water and sewerage company for customer service in 2015, according to Ofwat’s service incentive mechanism (SIM) – and this coveted position is one that the company is keen to maintain. “We have been ranked in the top three UK utilities for customer service ever since privatisation, and you don’t achieve this incredible track record by sitting still and not evolving,” says Andy Nicholson, Asset Data Manager at Wessex Water. “As a business, we are constantly looking for new, creative ways to improve our customer communication, and GIS gives us an ideal platform for innovation.”

“ The ArcGIS-based interactive map supports our customer service vision by making it as easy as possible for customers to interact with us via the communication channel of their choice

Ryan Davies – Customer Experience Manager, Wessex Water

The Solution

With over 16 years’ experience of using Esri’s geographic information system (GIS) solutions and an Enterprise Licence Agreement for Esri’s ArcGIS platform, Wessex Water had all the technology and skills it needed to drive four recent initiatives that, in a range of different ways, help to improve customer communications.

The first of these developments is an interactive online map that allows Wessex Water to share accurate, up-to-date information about planned and emergency works currently taking place throughout the region. Created using Esri’s ArcGIS Online solution, this web map includes added features such as live chat buttons, which enable customers to connect easily with customer service agents from within the map.

The second initiative is a new SMS-based communication tool that leverages Wessex Water’s existing operational GIS platform. Where there are temporary water service interruptions, engineers in the field use their mobile devices to draw polygons around the relevant streets. A list of customers’ mobile numbers is then automatically extracted by Esri derived client software, enabling the customer service team to quickly send out a timely text-based message to all households affected by the works.

In the customer call centre, Wessex Water has used Esri’s Operations Dashboard to improve communications by providing an up-to-the-minute graphical overview of incidents on huge wall-mounted, smart screens. The dashboard is also available via the organisation’s intranet, so in the event of an emergency, it is possible to make this real-time operational information available to managers on any internet-connected device.

Finally, Wessex Water has used ArcGIS Online and Story Map templates to more effectively convey information to the general public in a format that is simple to understand and easy for them to engage with. Published on the utility’s web site, they include an interactive, fully illustrated Story Map about a multi-agency scheme to improve habitats in the Stour region and protect native species.

Wessex Water was able to quickly introduce these four GIS-based initiatives, at low cost, as they were all developed using either the organisation’s existing Esri GIS services or new out-of-the-box Esri apps. “We developed the web map from concept to first proof in just three days,” recalls Nicholson. “All the projects were developed as part of ‘business as usual’ for the GIS team, removing the need for specific funding and project management overheads.”

“ Together with the ArcGIS web map, our GIS-enabled messaging service has led to a 20% fall in calls to our Customer Service Unit reporting problems with ‘no water’

Ryan Davies – Customer Experience Manager, Wessex Water

Benefits

Easier access to up-to-date information
The new web map allows Wessex Water to keep customers far better informed about current maintenance activities. It receives over 800 hits a month and is popular with customers, who can use it to quickly find the information they need without having to make a phone call. “The ArcGIS-based interactive map supports our customer service vision by making it as easy as possible for customers to interact with us via the communication channel of their choice,” says Ryan Davies, Customer Experience Manager at Wessex Water.

More timely notification about water supply issues
The SMS messaging service has proven highly effective in enabling Wessex Water to let customers know about emergency, unplanned maintenance works, so they do not become distressed or alarmed by an unexpected loss of water. “Customers are now far better informed,” Davies says. “Together with the ArcGIS web map, our GIS-enabled messaging service has led to a 20% fall in calls to our Customer Service Unit reporting problems with ‘no water’.”

More helpful dialogues with the call centre
Thanks to the introduction of the huge, visual dashboards in the Customer Service Unit, Wessex Water’s call handlers can provide more informative responses to customer queries. “The dashboard gives call centre agents greater awareness of issues occurring in the Wessex region,” comments Nicholson. “The outcome of the call is more likely to be helpful for the caller and more questions can be resolved first time.”

Greater awareness of the work done by Wessex Water
By viewing the ArcGIS Story Maps, members of the public can now better appreciate the full spectrum of activities that Wessex Water is involved in. As Nicholson says, “The Story Maps bring information together in a more understandable way and this, in turn, helps Wessex Water build a positive public perception of the company.”

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RSA Insurance Group

Gaining deeper insight into global risk

Leading international insurer, RSA, has been using Esri’s ArcGIS technology for over 15 years to help it better understand global perils risk and manage its exposure. Integrated with other core systems, the Esri platform enables RSA’s employees to make better-informed business decisions, as well as respond quickly and effectively to major incidents.

Insurance Group


Case study


RSA has improved operational efficiencies, speeding up the turnaround time of risk assessments from several days to being available instantly

RSA can set more appropriate and competitive pricing at individual property level

The organisation can deliver better customer service by responding more quickly to events like floods

The Challenge

Complex factors like extreme climatic change create new risks, in new locations, all the time. The challenge for insurance companies is to thoroughly understand the risks of current and emerging perils; how they’ll affect their approach to risk selection; and how best to manage their overall exposure to risks within a given geographic area.

RSA Insurance Group was one of the first insurers to exploit the power of geographic information system (GIS) technology, using it initially to gain a more detailed understanding of flood risk at the point of underwriting new business. Since then, RSA has continually advanced its use of GIS across its business globally.

“ That’s the great thing about ArcGIS, all the clever analysis happens in the background

Rob Osment – Global GeoRisk Director, RSA

The Solution

At the heart of RSA’s business today is an enterprise GIS platform built using Esri’s ArcGIS Server technology and maintained by Esri UK. “This core system supports our property business, around the world,” says Rob Osment, Global GeoRisk Director at RSA. “It helps us understand what risks exist at a property and whether we have capacity to underwrite new business in this area.”

RSA also makes extensive use of Esri’s latest ArcGIS Desktop tools, through an Enterprise Licence Agreement with Esri UK. A small team of expert GIS users at RSA employ sophisticated spatial analysis techniques to create hazard models and reports that provide insights into changing risk profiles.

In addition, the Esri GIS platform has been integrated with RSA’s core business systems for underwriting and pricing, so up to 3,000 employees regularly use GIS and mapping tools as a part of their daily jobs. “That’s the great thing about ArcGIS,” Osment says. “All the clever analysis happens in the background.”

“ Using ArcGIS, alongside our internally-developed risk models, helps us achieve a more accurate understanding of peril risk and enables us to offer cover at a price that better reflects the risk

Rob Osment – Global GeoRisk Director, RSA

Benefits

In more than 15 years of using Esri GIS solutions, RSA has realised significant business advantages including:

Deeper understanding of global risk
Through its use of ArcGIS, RSA has been able to take advantage of the growing availability of open data to derive a greater understanding of peril risk and thereby allow underwriters to make better business decisions. Having a clear understanding of the business that is already covered allows underwriters to determine whether there is capacity to write more business, ensuring that RSA remains within its risk appetite.

More competitive pricing
Historically, everyone living in one postcode area would be charged the same rate for a specific peril. Now, RSA can identify the exact property being insured, and the rate charged for that peril can more accurately reflect the risk that is being covered. For instance, a person living on top of a hill would now pay a lower rate for flood cover than someone living close to the river. “Using ArcGIS, alongside our internally-developed risk models, helps us achieve a more accurate understanding of peril and enables us to offer cover at a price that better reflects the risk,” says Osment.

Fast, effective customer service
If an explosion, flood or wildfire occurs, RSA can immediately see which of its customers are affected. It can then put in place rapid, proactive measures to help these customers, before they have even logged a claim. “A customer who has bought a policy with RSA has bought into a promise that we will help them when things go wrong,” says Osment. “GIS puts us on the front foot and enables us to respond faster to resolve our customers’ problems as soon as we can.”

Better informed business strategy
Following events such as a major flood, RSA’s GeoRisk team uses ArcGIS to prepare presentations for senior managers, analysing what occurred and the implications for the business. These reports provide clarity in complex situations and are used to help inform changes in business strategy. For instance, ArcGIS helps managers to understand if RSA is underwriting the right levels of risk in the right locations.

Efficiencies for a global workforce
The integration of ArcGIS with other systems saves time for many employees, as they no longer have to access risk maps separately when fulfilling their job roles. At the same time, ArcGIS presents the same information to all of the organisation’s employees, regardless of whether they are sitting in the UK, Ireland, Canada or Scandinavia. As Katie Ward, Global GeoRisk Consultant at RSA, says, “Everyone gets the same instant view of global risk, irrespective of where they are.”

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Transport for London

Delivering a £4 billion investment plan for London’s roads

An enterprise deployment of Esri’s ArcGIS platform is helping Transport for London to transform the quality of London’s roads for residents, commuters and visitors alike. Using GIS, the organisation’s employees can make better operational and planning decisions.

TfL has created a GIS web app that improves decision making by making project information more accessible

Employees within TfL and borough councils can collaborate and work more efficiently

TfL can minimise disruption for all road users by ensuring that works are well planned and coordinated

The Challenge

In 2014, Transport for London (TfL) embarked on a £4 billion investment plan that encompasses hundreds of separate projects to improve the capital’s roads, tunnels, bridges, pedestrian areas and cycle paths, over a period of at least ten years. This will completely transform the surface transportation network in London, making it fit for the increasing demands of a growing population and deliver healthier streets for all.

To make sure the success of this highly ambitious programme, the organisation recognised the need for one single, central source of information that would provide a clear, up-to-date picture of which schemes were taking place, where and when. It was vital for the success of the plan for multiple project teams to be able to collaborate to coordinate simultaneous projects, balance numerous priorities and minimise public inconvenience.

“ Our ArcGIS platform is already transforming our business and will continue to support the aspirations of the business

The Solution

Rather than just develop a stand-alone, web-based geographic information system (GIS) application to meet its immediate business requirement, TfL decided to first develop a corporate, server-based GIS platform and then build its web applications on that foundation. This well considered, far-sighted and undoubtedly strategic decision multiplied the benefits from TfL’s GIS investment exponentially.

TfL developed its enterprise GIS platform, known internally as GIS-as-a-service, using Esri’s ArcGIS Server and Portal for ArcGIS solutions, with support and specialist advice from Esri UK. It then used Esri’s web application templates to build an internal, intranet-based web application called the Surface Playbook that enables employees to view 400 plus layers of project and asset data on interactive street maps. Subsequently, TfL has released an external version of the Surface Playbook for London borough councils, which displays data layers that are directly pertinent to road network improvements.

Internally, Surface Playbook is being used by over 2000 employees, from multiple different teams in the Surface Transport division, as well as other sections of TfL. The external version of the Surface Playbook is now available to all TfL stakeholders including London Boroughs, GLA, Utilities and Highways England. Users of both solutions can select a location on the interactive map and use the time-slider tool to view all current and planned schemes or works at different points in time. Then, they can simply click on the map to access asset and other project information, all from one place, for the first time.

“ ArcGIS has enabled TFL to create a flexible and sustainable foundation for future data sharing and collaboration

Fiona Clowes – GIS Lead, Transport for London

Benefits

Better informed decision making
Surface Playbook brings together information previously held in different systems and departments, in mixed formats, and makes it accessible to everyone. Consequently, teams can make better informed decisions about where and when to carry out works, to avoid duplicated effort and speed up the completion of planned schemes. “Surface Playbook provides a comprehensive picture of our road network, assets, current works and projects in one place, giving employees the best information from which to make important planning and operational decisions,” says Fiona Clowes, GIS Lead at TfL.

Improved operational efficiency
Employees save time as they no longer have to check multiple systems and manually collate information or send information requests to other departments. Likewise, they don’t have to request specific maps from the GIS team and wait for them to be produced, as they can self-serve all the maps they need from Surface Playbook and use them to collaborate more easily with colleagues. Employees in boroughs can also use the external Surface Playbook to strategically plan road network improvements and coordinate and collaborate with TfL, further extending the benefits of the GIS to stakeholders.

Less disruption for road users
Ultimately, by helping to ensure that projects are well planned and coordinated, the Surface Playbook will help TfL to minimise the impact of improvement works on the travelling public.

A platform for future aspirations
The creation of the enterprise GIS platform has transformed the way that the whole organisation views spatial data, as Clowes explains. “GIS has gone from being a desktop application used by a single team to being a fully-embedded enterprise-wide IT system, available to the entire business.”

Most significantly, the GIS platform has paved the way for TfL to introduce many more applications that will add value for the business in the months and years ahead, in areas such as CCTV, road work permits and other line of business apps. “ArcGIS has enabled us to create a flexible, scalable and sustainable foundation for the future,” Clowes comments. “Our ArcGIS platform is already transforming our business and will continue to support the business to deliver high quality data to users to assist with their decision making and facilitate collaboration and coordination opportunities long term.”

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Westminster City Council: Waste Management

Maximising value for money with a new approach to waste services procurement

Westminster City Council has made innovative use of GIS to help ensure that new tenders for its £225 million waste disposal contracts offer the best possible value for money. It anticipates that its new approach to waste services procurement could contribute to avoided costs of up to £2 million a year.

– Waste Management –


Case study – Local Government


ArcGIS allows the council to make more informed decisions about supplier appointments

The GIS-enabled project has given the council rapid insight into complex public service requirements

By using ArcGIS, the council avoided the need to pay external consultancy fees of £20,000

The Challenge

Every year, a staggering 190,000 tonnes of rubbish are generated by households and businesses in the City of Westminster, enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall 26 times over. With the two main contracts for the recycling and disposal of this waste coming up for renewal, the council’s cleansing department wanted to make absolutely certain that it selected suppliers who could offer optimum value for taxpayers’ money.

With growing congestion on London’s roads along with high fuel costs, the council realised that travel time to and from vehicle depots, waste treatment sites and recycling facilities was a significant factor influencing the cost of waste disposal services. So, in its tender documents for the new contracts, it wanted to encourage bids from contractors who had sites within a short drive-time of the centre of the borough.

The key challenge for the cleansing department was how to accurately measure drivetimes for its waste collection vehicles, on busy streets, and along hundreds of alternative routes, at different times of the day. The council initially approached a firm of transportation consultants, which quoted £20,000 to undertake a drive-time analysis project. However by consulting the council’s internal geographic information system (GIS) department, the cleansing department realised it had an alternative means of addressing the challenge, using existing resources.

“ ArcGIS Online is helping Westminster City Council to make evidence-based decisions and ensure the effective use of public funds in the management of waste services

Peter Kohler – GIS Lead at Westminster City Council

The Solution

Westminster City Council has been using solutions from Esri’s ArcGIS platform for many years and the GIS team had recently begun to explore ArcGIS Online. Following a conversation with the council’s cleansing department, Peter Kohler, GIS lead at Westminster City Council, used ArcGIS Online and network routing data for central London to put together an initial proof of concept, based on the average drive-times of cars.

Next, the council’s GIS team incorporated GPS data from its waste collection trucks, which gave it the actual, average speeds of its own vehicles, at different times in the day. It then worked closely with the cleansing department to analyse the data and produced a map (in web and pdf formats), showing a 35-minute drive-time boundary from Marble Arch, the centre of the borough. “ArcGIS Online makes it extremely easy to adjust and produce maps, so the cleansing department could experiment with different drive-time limits and drive-time boundaries at little cost and in little time,” Kohler says.

“ It took me just 15 minutes, and even with this first ArcGIS Online map, the cleansing department was extremely impressed

Peter Kohler – GIS Lead at Westminster City Council

Benefits

Westminster City Council has now embedded the ArcGIS Online map into its tender documents for new waste collection contracts and is giving favourable consideration to bids from contractors with sites within the delineated 35-minute drive-time area. This focused procurement approach is delivering significant benefits including:

Evidence-based decision making

With its new insight into the optimal operation of waste collection vehicles, the council can set meaningful criteria for prospective new contractors and make appointments based on facts. As Kohler says, “ArcGIS Online is helping Westminster City Council to make evidence-based decisions and ensure the most effective use of public funds in the management of waste services.”

Value for money for taxpayers

By appointing contractors with the closest sites, Westminster City Council can minimise the cost of fuel and employee time, and ensure that contracts represent the best possible value for taxpayers’ money. Jarno Stet, Waste Services Manager at Westminster City Council, explains: “The cost implications of selecting contractors with waste treatment sites with unacceptable travel distances could add up to £6 per mile. When this figure is multiplied by the number of miles travelled every year, the number of vehicles we operate, staff labour and overtime cost, the total annual avoided cost could be as much as £2 million.”

Fast insight into complex challenges

ArcGIS Online gave the council a fast and flexible solution to its challenge, enabling it to find the answers to its drive-time question within the tight timescale of the procurement process. “To the waste collection team, this was a very difficult and complex question to ask and they were expecting it to take a long time and cost a lot of money to get an answer,” Kohler says. “Using ArcGIS Online I could turn around a detailed map in minutes for an expenditure of around 30 pence in user credits.”

Return on annual investment in GIS

Whereas external consultants had quoted £20,000 to perform drive-time analysis, Westminster City Council was able to complete the project itself, using its existing licence for ArcGIS Online and the skills of in-house staff. “With the consultancy fee savings from this one small project, we have paid back the council’s entire GIS software spend for the year,” estimates Kohler, adding that, “ArcGIS will continue to add immense value across many of similar projects in other departments in the months ahead.”

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Argent

Improving asset management in one of Europe’s largest urban development projects, King’s Cross

Responsible for one of London’s largest ever mixed-use development projects, Argent depends on Esri’s ArcGIS platform to help it manage assets and share information with both internal and external stakeholders. GIS plays a pivotal role in enabling the organisation to schedule multiple simultaneous projects and make critical business and financial decisions.


Case study – Land and Property


The Customer

Argent is a leading property development company. In 2008, it joined forces with London & Continental Railways Limited and DHL Supply Chain to form the King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership (KCCLP) and embarked on one of London’s largest ever mixed-use development projects.

Argent uses Esri’s cloud-based service, ArcGIS Online, to share asset maps with colleagues, partners, contractors and other third party organisations

Users can drill down from maps of the entire development site to individual roads, buildings and pipelines and click for up-to-date project information

A GIS phasing tool allows Argent to scrutinise how the 67 acre site will look at different points in the future and make more informed financial and business decisions

The Challenge

In the heart of London, adjacent to busy King’s Cross and St. Pancras rail station lies 67 acres of brownfield development. By 2020, the area will accommodate 50 new and reused buildings, up to 2,000 homes, 20 streets and 10 public squares, providing a modern environment where some 45,000 people can work, live and study.

Argent is responsible for the development and asset management of this ongoing transformation. Over twenty project managers are working together with a wide range of contractors and consultants, using shared services and facilities in close proximity.

One of the challenges faced by Argent and KCCLP was how to manage large amounts of asset information – and indeed how to communicate this information to different stakeholders within KCCLP and Argent, as well as external partners, contractors and stakeholders.

“ Argent possessed asset maps and plans, but needed the technical capability to share this asset information and the ability to keep pace with constant changes in asset data during the many project phases

Steven Eglinton – Director of GeoEnable

The Solution

Argent called in consulting firm GeoEnable for advice on how to overcome its asset and project management spatial challenges, as part of a wider initiative to improve information management. GeoEnable identified how geographic information system (GIS) technology could play a key role in the solution, alongside new internal business processes.

Argent had a basic desktop GIS solution, which no longer met the needs of the business. Director of GeoEnable, Steven Eglinton, says: “Argent possessed asset maps and plans, but needed the technical capability to share this asset information and the ability to keep pace with constant changes in asset data during the many project phases.”

GeoEnable deployed Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop solution in conjunction with ArcGIS Online for Organisations, Esri’s cloud-based GIS service. Used together, these GIS solutions allow Argent to create dynamic, interactive asset maps locally, and then share them with team members via the intranet. Users can view high level plans of the entire site, or drill down to individual roads, pipelines or buildings and click on the maps linked to the project management database.

Most Argent employees use a web browser to access ArcGIS Online from their desktops. However, a small but growing number employ customised web apps to access the same capabilities from their smart phones and tablets, while away from the office.

“ GIS is a strategic asset management tool for business planning as well as site management

Lilia Wydra – GIS Manager at Argent

Benefits

ArcGIS Online provides a complete, accurate record of all assets involved in the King’s Cross development, both installed and planned, and this information is accessible to everyone in the organisation from planners and surveyors to board members. Every week, projects progress and new contractors arrive; all this data is regularly updated in the GIS, so everyone has access to the same accurate information. “It is easy for everyone to get asset information instantly, whenever they need it,” says Argent’s GIS Manager Lilia Wydra.

ArcGIS Online includes a ‘phasing tool’ that enables users to look forward and see how the site might look at different points in time. This feature plays a critical role in helping Argent to make high-level business and financial decisions, as well as project-level decisions. “The asset information that is accessible via ArcGIS Online influences many decisions we make, from how to plan on-site logistics to when to start marketing new homes, offices and retail outlets,” says Wydra. “GIS is a strategic asset management tool for business planning as well as site management.”

At present, the web-based GIS solution is accessible to Argent and KCCLP employees and a limited number of consultants to KCCLP. The company is also working with external consultancies and construction firms on the development site. GIS has significantly improved KCCLP’s ability to collaborate with third parties and helps to ensure that everyone involved in the King’s Cross development is properly informed.

One of the key advantages of having instant access to shared asset information is that it helps to improve record keeping and phasing. By accessing time-aware information users can easily access what is proposed, when contractors are working on site and clearly see when projects are due for completion. This allows better planning and identifies potential clashes. This is a particularly important issue on large projects like the King’s Cross development, where many different organisations are working together in close proximity.

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Bracknell Forest Homes

Transforming lives, homes and communities through process innovation

Driven by a clear vision to transform the lives of its tenants, Bracknell Forest Homes is using Esri’s ArcGIS Platform to innovate and enhance core business processes.  Through the combined use of mobile, cloud and web-based GIS apps, the organisation has significantly improved the cost effectiveness, efficiency and quality of its housing services.

Tree surveys are conducted twice as quickly and tree risks are both better understood and better managed

Anti-social behaviour issues on estates are dealt with more rapidly and at significantly less cost

Under-occupancy rates are being reduced, by precisely matching tenants’ needs with suitable properties

The Challenge

Like all housing associations, Bracknell Forest Homes has a duty to its board, stakeholders, investors and the industry regulator to offer value for money, demonstrate shrewd business management and deliver a high quality of service for tenants.  It owns and manages around 6,000 rented homes in Bracknell Forest and surrounding areas, as well as 1,075 leaseholder properties.

The organisation’s aspirational vision is to “transform lives, homes and communities” and, to achieve this, it encourages innovation in all aspects of the business.   Indeed, innovation is one of the “magnificent seven” values that Bracknell Forest Homes has identified as being critical for its success.  It defines innovation as “creativity with a job to do” and, in more ways than one, the organisation is making creative use of geographic information system (GIS) technology to drive the adoption of best practice approaches in the housing sector.

“ The mobile GIS solution for our Tree Team allows us to manage our portfolio of 10,000 trees with just two full time members of staff. We estimate that without this solution, costs would increase by at least £50,000 a year, and we would be unable to carry out necessary tasks in a proactive, cost effective manner

Andrew Keljarrett – Business Improvement Manager, Bracknell Forest Homes

The Solution

Since 2010, Bracknell Forest Homes has used a range of solutions from Esri’s ArcGIS platform to support the delivery of its services.  The association has been able to easily integrate web, mobile and cloud-based apps, to create seamless, GIS-driven processes, and thereby implement innovative new approaches to service delivery.

In brief, it uses:

  • ArcGIS Online to store all spatial data securely in the cloud and potentially make GIS services and analysis capabilities accessible to all of the company’s 240 employees
  • ArcGIS Pro to provide advanced GIS functionality, when required for specialist tasks
  • Collector for ArcGIS to allow the company’s mobile teams to collect data in the field
  • Survey123 for ArcGIS to conduct surveys with tenants and then subsequently analyse their feedback
  • ArcGIS Story Maps to present information clearly to business teams in an interactive format.

We have at least doubled the number of tree inspections that surveyors can perform in a day and given managers faster access to better information about where surveys have been undertaken

Andrew Keljarrett – Business Improvement Manager, Bracknell Forest Homes

The Benefits

Tangible cost savings from reduced administration

The creation of mobile GIS solutions has enabled Bracknell Forest Homes to make significant, sustained cost savings.  For instance, the Tree Team uses Collector for ArcGIS to carry out surveys on trees the association is responsible for. The surveyors are able to check locations of trees, carry out surveys, deal with customer queries and provide information to contractors on tree maintenance work needed – all while in the field. “The mobile GIS solution for our Tree Team allows us to manage our portfolio of 10,000 trees with just two full time members of staff,” says Andrew Keljarrett, Business Improvement Manager at Bracknell Forest Homes.  “We estimate that without this solution, costs would increase by at least £50,000 a year, and we would be unable to carry out necessary tasks in a proactive, cost effective manner.”

 Greater financial returns on estate assets

Increasingly, Bracknell Forest Homes is using ArcGIS to help it make strategic decisions that will impact the future profitability of the business.  It is, as an illustration, currently collecting data in the field about the condition of garage blocks and then analysing possible development opportunities for these sites with ArcGIS Online.  By replacing under-used, old and deteriorating garages with brightly lit parking spaces, amenity areas or new properties, the organisation can simultaneously reduce its maintenance costs, improve facilities for tenants and create new revenue opportunities.

 A sensitive and professional approach to under-occupancy

Bracknell Forest Homes is currently using the ArcGIS platform to help it minimise under-occupancy in its properties and incentivise tenants to downsize.  It uses Survey123 to assess the needs of householders at properties that may be under-occupied, alongside ArcGIS Online to quickly ascertain if there are other properties available within its housing portfolio that may be more suitable, such as bungalows already fitted with showers or wet-rooms for elderly people.  The organisation can, therefore, reduce under occupancy rates and make its larger properties available to families on council waiting lists, while delivering a professional and understanding service for its existing tenants.

 Improved employee productivity throughout the business

The use of ArcGIS has had a significant impact on productivity, across a wide range of business departments.  In Finance, for example, employees recently used ArcGIS Pro to reduce the time needed to define title extents for a refinancing initiative from over a month to less than one week.  Equally, employees in the Estates Team have reduced their need to return to the office to collect or return information on jobs, while the Tree Team is able to carry out more surveys in less time.  “We have at least doubled the number of tree inspections that surveyors can perform in a day and given managers faster access to better information about where surveys have been undertaken,” Keljarrett says.

Reduced exposure to the risk of litigation

Using ArcGIS Online and the tree data captured via mobile GIS, Bracknell Forest Homes can now categorise each individual tree as either ‘low’, ‘medium’ or ‘high’ risk, based on a wide range of factors including tree health, adjacent services and public access.  The clarity of the information presented by ArcGIS allows the Tree Team to provide assurances to the board and regulators that risks associated with damaged or falling trees are being managed and mitigated responsibly.  Most significantly, this GIS-driven process reduces the risk of litigation for poor tree management. At its worst, mismanagement can lead to charges of corporate manslaughter, potentially resulting in unlimited fines for an organisation and prison sentences for involved parties.

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Knight Frank

Supporting the profitable expansion of major retailers

The independent real-estate consultancy Knight Frank is using Esri’s ArcGIS platform to help leading retail organisations find the most advantageous sites for new stores across the UK. By performing geospatial analysis on a wide range of factors, the firm can guide its clients quickly towards precisely those locations that are most likely to maximise profitability and reduce risk.

Knight Frank provides in-depth, location-specific analysis so retailers can make better informed decisions

Clients have all the information they need to choose locations that will maximise their profitability

Retailers can react quickly to secure the most advantageous sites in UK high streets and shopping centres

The Challenge

Named ‘Global Real Estate Adviser of the Year 2016’ in the annual Estates Gazette Awards, Knight Frank is one of the world’s leading independent real-estate consultancies, with 411 offices in 59 countries and 14,000 employees. More than 50% of Knight Frank’s business relates to commercial property, so it is vitally important for the company to be able to provide highly professional and value-added services for commercial clients.

From experience, Knight Frank knew that many commercial organisations have an unstructured approach to choosing locations for their business premises or retail outlets. Businesses often have a choice of potential sites throughout the UK and around the world for new properties, but, for a range of reasons, are not able to adopt a standard approach that considers the suitability, and likely profitability, of potential sites in a comparable way. As a result, businesses cannot quickly hone in on the most suitable locations, which increases costs and accentuates business risks.

To address this issue, Knight Frank’s Commercial Research Department, based at the company’s UK headquarters, set out to develop a structured, evidence-led approach to qualifying potential new business locations. It wanted to make relevant, meaningful, client-specific information available to its internal teams, enabling them to deliver superior property services for commercial clients, which include food retailers, leisure stores and chains of coffee shops.

“ With the evidence we provide from ArcGIS, our clients can have greater confidence in their decisions and can pick the locations that will offer the least risk and greatest potential profitability

James Nolan – Senior Geospatial Analyst, Commercial Research Department, Knight Frank

The Solution

Knight Frank uses Esri’s ArcGIS platform for its location analysis services primarily due to its flexibility, as James Nolan, Senior Geospatial Analyst at Knight Frank, explains. “For the breadth of analysis that we wanted to do and the diverse range of clients that we work with, we needed a highly flexible resource,” he says. “ArcGIS has advanced geospatial tools and allows us to input data from a variety of sources. It’s a very powerful, very flexible GIS.”

The firm now uses Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop and hosted services from Esri UK to:

  • Create highly targeted, detailed and client-specific databases, including data such as demographics, existing business premises and competitor locations
  • Perform geospatial analysis to assess the proximity of target customers and create catchment areas
  • Generate travel isochrones which are added as layers of information on a multi-dimensional map
  • Include research into changing consumer and retail trends, such as the spending patterns of millennials and the growth of the discount food retail sector
  • Use Esri’s viewing software, Arc Scene, to interpret the distance and time taken to travel between sites
  • Hone the results by adding or removing criteria, to precisely identify the best business locations

“ ArcGIS puts Knight Frank in a stronger position to advise its clients quickly about the suitability of available sites

James Nolan – Senior Geospatial Analyst, Commercial Research Department, Knight Frank

The Benefits

Higher quality, evidence-based property services
Through its use of ArcGIS, Knight Frank is now able to pinpoint the optimum business locations for specific organisations and thereby offer an enhanced quality of service for its commercial clients. It can combine research into the consumer behaviour of millennials, or the activities of competitors, with detailed population statistics to identify up-to-the-minute opportunities for retailers and then present thorough, relevant analysis to help its clients make well-informed decisions about new retail ventures.

Reduced risk in multi-million pound investments
Critically, Knight Frank’s structured, GIS-led approach helps to reduce risk for clients, in what can be multi-million pound investment decisions. For instance, once a potential new location for an established retailer has been identified, Knight Frank can find an existing store with a similar demographic and geographic profile. If this comparable store is doing well financially, the client has some reassurance that the risk of business failure at the new location is low. “With the evidence we provide from ArcGIS, our clients can have greater confidence in their decisions and can pick the locations that will offer the least risk and greatest potential profitability,” Nolan says.

Faster time-to-market for commercial enterprises
Knight Frank is able to carry out almost all of its location analysis using ArcGIS, third-party intelligence and publically available data sets, before sending surveyors out into the field. This combination not only results in significant cost efficiencies, but also speeds up the location search process, allowing clients to secure the most advantageous sites ahead of their competition and reduce their time to market. “When retail units in popular shopping malls and key high streets become available, there can be strong competition from multiple retailers for that location,” Nolan explains. “ArcGIS puts Knight Frank in a stronger position to advise its clients quickly about the suitability of available sites.”

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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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