Category Archives: Ireland

4site

Accelerating the delivery of next generation fibre networks

Engineering firm, 4site has reduced the time required to survey fibre networks in the field by 50% and improved the quality of its data using Esri’s ArcGIS platform. The company can now design smarter networks to reduce costs for its telecoms industry clients and support the faster roll-out of next generation fibre networks.

Mobile teams can complete network audits and capture data in the field 50% more quickly

Planners can produce designs for new fibre network installations with a 25% faster turnaround

Telecoms clients can make savings of up to 20% during the build phase, due to more accurate data

The Challenge

When telecoms companies roll out new fibre communications networks, the success and long-term profitability of the venture can hinge on the quality of the data collected at the very outset. For, if the data is incomplete or out of date, unforeseen issues can emerge that increase costs during the build phase and impede the efficient operation of the network for years to come.

The traditional approach for collecting data to inform the installation of new fibre networks was a highly manual one, fraught with the potential for errors. Surveyors typically used printed maps, note pads, laptops and cameras to conduct surveys in the field up to three days a week and then spent around two days in the office transferring their findings to spreadsheets. The engineering solutions company 4site identified an opportunity to streamline this survey process to not only improve the accuracy of the data collected, but also shorten the time required to share it.

“ 4site has reduced its turn-around time for designing new fibre networks by around 25%

Niall Looney – Operations Director, 4site

The Solution

After evaluating a number of possible geographic information system (GIS) solutions, 4site selected Esri’s ArcGIS platform, including Collector App for ArcGIS, as the foundation for a customised survey app and process. “The real power of ArcGIS is that you can adapt it,” says Niall Looney, Operations Director at 4site. “We were able to use products from the ArcGIS platform to develop a GIS-led survey workflow called 4Survey that we believe is the first of its kind in the fibre deployment industry.”

Now, 4site’s mobile teams use smartphones and ipads to view, query and collect data in the field pertaining to existing and planned fibre networks. The 4Survey app allows them to complete audits guided by pre-set drop-down boxes, verify existing network features, take and upload images, validate network maps and add new information points with attributes.

All of the information collected in the field using the ArcGIS mobile app is transferred digitally back to 4site’s planners in the company’s Fibre Centre for Excellence in Limerick, Ireland, in what is a completely paperless process. The planners can see survey data as soon as it becomes available and start designing new networks instantly. In the first six months following its introduction, 4Survey was used to provide survey, design and planning services for the roll out of fibre to more than 100,000 homes and businesses.

“ 4site’s clients could reduce their build costs by up to 20%, which, depending on the infrastructure profile, could result in savings of millions of Euros

Niall Looney – Operations Director, 4site

The Benefits

50% reduction in survey time
Using its ArcGIS survey app and workflow, 4site can now complete fibre network surveys for its clients 50% more quickly than before and, therefore, offer a highly efficient survey service for its telecommunications industry clients. Field-based surveyors work significantly more productively in the field, as they can perform all their required tasks using just one device and no longer have to return to the office to type up reports or manually link images to audits.

Faster delivery of next generation fibre networks
Because 4site’s planners receive complete, accurate survey data direct to their desktops, the instant it is collected, they can now complete the planning and design phase for new fibre installations much more quickly. “4site has reduced its turnaround time for designing new fibre networks by around 25%,” estimates Looney. “This means that we can help our clients to reduce their time to market and help them deliver next generation fibre networks to homes and businesses more quickly.”

Significant cost savings in build phase
The improved accuracy of the survey data collected is expected to result in significant cost savings for 4site’s clients during the build phase. Fewer unexpected issues will occur as a result of incorrect information, reducing the need for last minute design changes, expensive work-arounds and repeat site visits. According to Looney, “4site’s clients could reduce their build costs by up to 20%, which, depending on the infrastructure profile, could result in savings of millions of Euros.”

Improved profitability for telecoms operators
With the higher quality of data that is now collected during the new 4Survey process, 4site can work with its clients to design smarter fibre networks that will optimise future revenues and reduce ongoing maintenance costs. For example, networks can be planned to maximise the potential of clusters and ensure the network extends to as many potential customers as possible. “We can verify the areas that are seemingly unviable at an earlier stage and develop solutions to make them viable as part of the core fibre roll out,” explains Looney.

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Donegal County Council

Crowd sourcing information to improve local planning

As part of the EU Northern Periphery Arctic Programme funded IMPROVE project on creating better public services, Donegal County Council commissioned Esri Ireland to help it engage with citizens more effectively on planning issues using crowdsourcing technology. Now the council can capture local knowledge and give citizens a stronger voice in the planning process.

Planning Officers make more efficient and better informed decisions about planning applications

Citizens play a greater role in the planning process as their views and knowledge are captured

Esri Ireland delivered the solution in 3 to 4 weeks using ArcGIS Online templates

The Challenge

Like all local authorities, Donegal County Council needs to take into account a huge range of factors when making decisions about planning applications. Much of the information it requires – such as the locations of special areas of conservation and flood risks – is held centrally within the council’s geographic information system (GIS), Esri’s ArcGIS platform. As a result, planning officers use ArcGIS to analyse the locations of proposed developments and identify any potential development conflicts quickly and easily.

The council realised, however, that there was a lot of local knowledge about Donegal that was not accessible via its GIS. Communities, families and individuals had knowledge about certain buildings, fields and even hedgerows that was often very pertinent to planning decisions, but that wasn’t recorded. The council consequently wanted to find a way to capture this ‘micro-knowledge’ within ArcGIS, so that it could be taken into account at an earlier stage in the planning process.

If we have more local information up-front, we can make well-informed decisions more quickly, improving the overall efficiency of our planning process

Daragh McDonough, Information Systems Project Leader – Donegal County Council

The Solution

With funding from the EU Northern Periphery Arctic Programme (NPA) IMPROVE project, Donegal County Council commissioned Esri Ireland to develop a solution for capturing local information from members of the public, making it publically available and incorporating it into the council’s core GIS planning systems. Esri Ireland achieved these goals by using Esri’s ArcGIS Online Crowdsource Reporter and Crowdsource Manager templates to expand the capabilities of the council’s existing ArcGIS platform.

“Esri Ireland brought strong expertise of working with Esri’s ArcGIS Online templates, specifically the Crowdsource Reporter and Crowdsource Manager, and was able to turn the project around for us very quickly,” says Daragh McDonough, Information Systems Project Leader at Donegal County Council. “We also learned a lot from working with Esri Ireland during the project, so we will be able to maintain and develop the solution ourselves in the future.”

After trialling the solution with a focus group of local citizens, Donegal County Council structured its crowdsourcing portal around seven key themes, ranging from the natural environment to transportation issues, with up to 12 different sub-sections underneath each. In this way, the council is able to organise the content it collects and use it effectively within its planning systems.

Now, members of the public can access the solution, named MyDonegalPlace, on the council’s website, put a dot on the map and enter local information on anything from the site of a bird’s nest or the birthplace of a local hero to a traffic blackspot. They can upload images and vote or comment on other people’s posts, helping the council to see which issues are most important locally. Council employees use Crowdsource Manager to moderate the content before it is published, making sure that personal details are not revealed.

Esri Ireland has given us a fantastic new way of capturing local information and giving citizens a role in the decision-making process for planning applications

Daragh McDonough, Information Systems Project Leader – Donegal County Council

The Benefits

Improved efficiency in the planning process
Donegal County Council expects to be able to make more informed planning decisions, as it can now take into account concerns and knowledge that local people have, right from the outset. For example, the council anticipates that it will need to issue fewer Further Information Requests, which can delay planning applications by up to 16 weeks. “If we have more local information up-front, we can make well-informed decisions more quickly, improving the overall efficiency of our planning process,” McDonough says.

Time and cost savings for developers
Developers and individuals who submit planning applications can potentially save money and time by using the Crowdsource Reporter to better understand local concerns. If they ensure that these local issues are fully addressed in their initial planning applications, they will avoid the added costs and delays that typically occur when plans are refused and amendments are required.

Greater community engagement in planning
Ultimately, the development of the new crowdsourcing solution benefits communities throughout Donegal, as it allows anyone to engage in the planning process in a structured way. “It gives people a voice,” McDonough says. “Esri Ireland has given us a fantastic new way of capturing local information and giving citizens a role in the decision-making process for planning applications.”

Enhanced public consultations
Looking ahead, Donegal County Council plans to use Crowdsource Reporter during public consultations to give members of the public a greater choice of ways in which to engage in the process. For example, it plans to use its new crowdsourcing solution as part of the upcoming Letterkenny Town Plan Review. “Crowdsource Reporter is a really valuable tool that we can use to engage with local people during public consultations, alongside traditional drop-in clinics and events,” McDonough says. “It will help us to get more people involved in building a shared vision for the future of Letterkenny.”

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Central Statistics Office & Ordnance Survey Ireland

Creating powerful insight from effective collaboration

With a shared vision for optimising the use of public sector data, the Central Statistics Office of Ireland and Ordnance Survey Ireland joined forces to maximise value from Ireland’s 2016 census. Their collaboration led to Ireland’s participation in a ground breaking project for the United Nations and the launch of two new data portals that are making information about Ireland’s people, environment and prosperity available in ways that were never possible before.

CSO and OSi can provide more meaningful information to support government policy making

Citizens can more easily access and understand census data and appreciate issues of national significance

Government working groups and agencies have easy access to evidence for reports and investment bids

The Challenge

Every five years, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) of Ireland conducts a census survey of the country’s 4.8 million residents, at 1.5 million households, across an area of 70,000 km2, using the ‘long form’ method to collect data on everything from individuals’ employment status to their means of travel to work. The organisation traditionally presented this census data in statistical tables and published it in reports, illustrated with a few maps and diagrams. It realised, however, that there was an opportunity for it to increase the value of the census by analysing and presenting the information spatially.

Senior executives at CSO engaged in conversations with Ireland’s national mapping agency, the Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi), and the two organisations discovered that their future visions were very compatible. “It made sense at a number of levels for us to collaborate,” says Lorraine McNerney, General Manager of Geospatial Systems at OSi. “Both organisations were playing active roles in the Government’s public sector reform plan; both organisations worked with data and analytics; and both organisations used Esri’s geographic information system (GIS) platform, ArcGIS. Our discussions culminated in the signing of a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in September 2016, and the two organisations agreed to work together to create new channels for disseminating geospatially referenced data for Ireland.”

Just a few months after the MOU was signed, CSO and OSi were approached by the United Nations and Esri Inc. and invited to participate in a research project to develop and deploy a new method of monitoring the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) using GIS. Ireland was one of only seven countries selected for this ground breaking initiative and the only country from Europe, so as McNerney says, it was something to feel “really proud of.” The opportunity provided a clear focus for the partnership and provided the impetus for CSO and OSi to launch an ambitious, collaborative development project.

“What we have done in Ireland really showcases the benefits of having geospatial census information. When you add locations to statistics, they become so much more powerful.”

Kevin McCormack, Head of Division, Sustainable Development Goals Indicators and Reports – Central Statistics Office

The Solution

OSi had already developed a data sharing platform called GeoHive, based on Esri’s ArcGIS Online solution, so CSO and OSi decided to use GeoHive as the technical platform for their collaborative projects. GeoHive acts as a “hub of hubs”, allowing the same data to be presented to different audiences, with different views, in a number of sub-portals known as ‘micro-hives’.

While working on the United Nations SDG project, CSO and OSi decided to create a micro-hive to present Ireland’s Census 2016 Small Area Population Statistics (SAPS) as geographical Open Data for the first time. The resulting portal (http://census2016.geohive.ie) allows the census data to be viewed, accessed or downloaded in map form across 31 administrative counties, 95 municipal districts, 3,409 electoral divisions and 18,641 small areas. The data sets include globally unique identifiers (GUIDs) to connect statistics and geography, which is a necessary step for using standard common IDs for spatial data in Ireland.

Using the Census 2016 Portal, anyone can explore Ireland’s latest census data by theme, combine multiple data layers to create their own maps, embed maps in other applications, download data or connect to it via a series of Open Standards application programming interfaces (APIs). “With the launch of the Census 2016 Portal, we showcased what our two organisations could achieve together,” says Kevin McCormack, Head of Division for Sustainable Development Goals Indicators and Reports at the Central Statistics Office. “We also achieved CSO’s goal of making census data available in a more meaningful and accessible geospatial format.”

Four months later, in November 2017, CSO and OSi launched the Ireland SDG Portal (http://irelandsdg.geohive.ie), a separate micro-hive with data aligned specifically to the United Nations’ 17 development goals, 169 targets and 230 indicators. This portal incorporates census 2016 variables from CSO and includes over 100 spatial data sets about Ireland ranging from biodiversity to traffic accidents. The portal provides over 50 indicators relating to Ireland’s progress towards SDGs and Users can click on the map at the top of the screen to see colour-coded visual indicators, such as the proportion of unemployed females in each electoral ward.

CSO and OSi worked in close partnership with Esri Ireland to deliver both the Census 2016 Portal and the Ireland SDG Portal. Indeed, according to McCormack, the success of both projects was due to the collaboration, complementary skills and commitment of the three organisations involved. “As a team, we are very strong,” he says. “CSO, OSi and Esri Ireland have brought together the data, the maps and the GIS platform – and it is the combination of all three that has enabled us to move forwards so successfully.”

As an extension to the two portals, the joint team is producing a series of ArcGIS Online Story Maps to highlight key issues indicated by the CSO census 2016 data and other sources of Open Data. The first of these Story Maps addresses issues including climate change and unemployment and brings together data, interactive maps, images and narratives to tell the story behind the statistics. People don’t need any technical skills or competence with numbers to be able to gain an insight into an issue and zoom into the map to see how the issue impacts the parts of the country where they live or work. “For people who aren’t used to handling data, Story Maps make statistics really easy to understand and are therefore excellent communications tools,” says Esri Ireland’s Katie Goodwin, Team Lead for the development of the national data infrastructure for geography and statistics.

“Story Maps provide a new way of communicating that captures hearts and minds. They really help to open up conversations that OSi and CSO wouldn’t have been a part of before and enable us to engage with a wider range of people.”

Lorraine McNerney, General Manager for Geospatial Systems – Ordnance Survey Ireland

The Benefits

Improved ability to inform Government policy decisions
By making it easier for policy makers, researchers and government officials to visualise statistical information, the Census 2016 Portal and Ireland SDG Portal will play key roles in supporting Government decision making. It is anticipated that Story Maps will be particularly helpful in highlighting critical issues in society. For example, one recently completed Story Map, based on census 2016 data, shows that 40% of children in Ireland live in rented accommodation and are therefore at risk of poverty and homelessness if rental prices increase. “Story Maps open up issues for discussion and help to inform government policy,” McCormack says.

Better information to encourage investment in Ireland’s economy
The Census 2016 Portal is being used by the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), the Irish agency responsible for attracting foreign investment to Ireland, to help it identify the best locations to promote to organisations that are considering opening new businesses in the country. The agency can now easily see the locations of graduates, skilled employees and transportation links and gain the evidence it needs to attract new investment to Ireland. “What we have done in Ireland really showcases the benefits of having geospatial census information,” McCormack says. “When you add locations to statistics, they become so much more powerful.”

Easy access to transparent, meaningful data for all citizens
For the first time, anyone can access Ireland’s census data for 2016 in a geospatial format that is easy to understand and use. This improves public sector transparency, as all citizens can see the data upon which government policies are determined. In addition, not-for-profit organisations can use the Census 2016 Portal to see, for example, where there are high levels of unemployment. They can then direct their voluntary services to the locations where they are most needed and gain the evidence they need to lobby the Irish Government for added support in the areas of greatest need.

A more powerful way of engaging citizens in important issues
Through the development of Story Maps, linked to the United Nations’ SDGs, CSO and OSi can help the Irish Government to raise awareness of important issues impacting the country, such as the need to protect biodiversity and preserve water quality. “Story Maps provide a new way of communicating that captures hearts and minds,” says McNerney. “They really help to open up conversations that OSi and CSO wouldn’t have been a part of before and enable us to engage with a wider range of people.”

A cost-effective mechanism for meeting UN reporting requirements
Significantly, Ireland’s new SDG Portal will support the Irish Government, by making it easier for the Government to meet the United Nations’ SDG reporting obligations. Prior to the launch of the Ireland SDG Portal, there was no single repository for all of the data that the Irish Government would need to find and analyse to produce the reports. Now, government working groups responsible for United Nations reporting can find the pertinent data more easily, without having to duplicate effort or waste time manipulating data. As a result, they will be able to produce reports quickly, potentially reducing costs by saving time.

An example of best practice data sharing
Although still in its infancy, the Ireland SDG Portal has already been highlighted by the Irish Government as a best practice example of how public sector organisations can share and optimise the use of data. This country-owned, country-led project has been featured as a case study in a new strategy for the future development of Ireland’s public service, called ‘Our Public Service 2020’ (www.ops2020.gov.ie), which was launched on December 12th 2017. The policy envisions that “Sharing data across Government will facilitate better service delivery, support better decision making and increase the ease of access to services and drive efficiencies.”

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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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