Category Archives: ROI

Norfolk County Council

Norfolk County Council

Improving the commissioning of school transport for vulnerable children

Norfolk County Council is using Esri’s ArcGIS platform to help it arrange the most suitable school transportation for pupils with special educational needs.  This insightful application of GIS is improving services and safety for children, while also helping the local authority to achieve its cost savings target.

With greater understanding of pupils’ travel needs, employees can commission safe, appropriate journeys

The council can easily see opportunities for pupils to share journeys or make shorter journeys to reduce travel costs

Efficiency savings from the use of this app will contribute to the SEN team’s £500,000 cost reduction target

The Challenge

Every year, Norfolk County Council is required to arrange travel to and from school, by minibus, car or taxi, for over 2,000 pupils with special educational needs (SEN).  The county is predominantly rural and covers a large area of 2,074 square miles, so the annual budget for SEN transportation in Norfolk exceeds £10 million.  In common with all departments within the council, the SEN transportation team was under pressure to reduce its operating costs and downscale this budget, but its priority none-the-less remained the same: to provide safe and secure journeys for vulnerable young people.

At the time, the SEN transportation team made decisions about journeys based on manual reports and commonly referred to a map pinned to the wall to help them understand distances between pupil addresses and schools. It was a lengthy, manual process, which relied largely on people’s experience and knowledge of the county, and this was neither efficient nor sustainable.

“ Our new ArcGIS app allows us to provide a high quality transportation service for children with special educational needs, while operating cost efficiently

Tracy Jessop – Assistant Director of Highways and Transport, Norfolk County Council

The Solution

Norfolk County Council has been licensing geographic information system (GIS) solutions from Esri UK and gradually introducing new solutions for the council based on the Esri ArcGIS platform for over six years.   So, when it came to creating a solution for the SEN school transportation team, the organisation already had both the technology and skills it needed in-house.  “We married ArcGIS with our new data warehouse to create the solution,” explains Tony Collins, Senior Analyst Programmer, GIS and Data Warehousing, at Norfolk County Council.  “From the original concept, it took us just two months of development.”

The solution, known internally as the SEN Travel Viewer app, allows the SEN transportation team to view a map of Norfolk and see at a glance, where pupils live, which schools they attend, what kind of vehicle they travel in, if they travel alone and how far they travel.  The team can now easily see and investigate anomalies, such as two pupils in adjacent villages having separate transportation to the same school.  They can also use the app to plan and commission the most appropriate journeys for pupils who are new to the area, reaching school age or changing schools, taking into account existing transportation arrangements for other pupils nearby.

“ The app speeds up the whole SEN transportation process, from beginning to end

Tim Hudson – Information Exploitation Team Manager, Norfolk County Council

The Benefits

Reduced costs in the provision of school transport

As Norfolk County Council can now more easily identify opportunities for pupils to share journeys or make shorter journeys, it can reduce its expenditure on transportation, while continuing to meet pupils’ needs.  In its first year of use, the council expects the SEN Travel Viewer app to make a significant contribution to the SEN department’s savings target of £500,000.  “Our new ArcGIS app allows us to provide a high quality transportation service for children with special educational needs, while operating cost efficiently,” says Tracy Jessop, Assistant Director of Highways and Transport, Norfolk County Council.

Fine-tuned services that meet the needs of vulnerable pupils

Using ArcGIS, members of staff now have better access to information, which enables them to ensure that travel arrangements are the most appropriate for pupils’ needs and security.  “ArcGIS enables the council to take an evidence-based approach to commissioning school transport and justify the need for explicit transportation services for specific pupils, based on a better understanding of the journeys they need to make,” says Tim Hudson, Information Exploitation Team Manager at Norfolk County Council.

Improved staff productivity and faster decision making

The app has been well received by members of staff, who can now work more productively.  The rapid visualisation of schools and pupil locations enables the SEN transportation team to make quicker decisions about the most suitable transportation routes and methods.   Consequently, the team can process applications in less time and advise families about travel arrangements more promptly.  As Mr Hudson says, “The app speeds up the whole SEN transportation process, from beginning to end.”

Better information to support future planning

In the future, the SEN Travel Viewer app will also be used to help pinpoint the most advantageous locations for new SEN schools and facilities, based on the proximity of the young people who require access to these services.  The council will be able to identify central locations and plan strategically to reduce journey times and improve convenience for pupils and their families.  In this way, ArcGIS will continue to play a key role in helping the council to improve both the quality and cost efficiency of SEN provision throughout the county in the years ahead.

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Red Kite Community Housing

Putting insight into action

Red Kite Community Housing deployed Esri’s ArcGIS Platform to gain a deeper understanding of not only what assets it owned, but also how to best maintain and develop them. The company is now amassing rich business insight that will help it to put innovative business improvement strategies into action.

Easy access to boundary data allows employees to respond to customer queries in minutes

Improved understanding of land ownership and plot sizes reduces ongoing operational costs

GIS analysis reveals previously unknown development sites and pinpoints the most advantageous opportunities

The Challenge

In the housing sector, the importance of clear business insight cannot be understated. Whether organisations want to improve the cost efficiency of their property maintenance programmes, respond more effectively to customer needs or identify the development opportunities that are most likely to gain planning permission, they need a detailed understanding of their homes, land, customers and communities.

Red Kite Community Housing wanted a more efficient way to improve the accessibility of information about the 6,700 homes that it owns and maintains in the district of Wycombe. It was unable to easily determine the ownership of property boundaries, or even locate the nearest grit bins, without having to find and refer to often disparate records. This reduced the efficiency of day-to-day operations and the ability to easily and flexibly devise and implement business improvement schemes. It therefore decided to deploy a geographic information system (GIS) to give employees more information about land assets, as well as reveal business insight to inform new strategies.

“ Our continuing use of ArcGIS for analysis will give us added insight into important issues and help to inform new business strategies

Jessica Horwitz – Insight Team Leader, Red Kite Community Housing

The Solution

Red Kite Community Housing selected Esri’s ArcGIS Platform after visiting Esri UK’s annual conference. “We didn’t want a software solution that was bespoke to the housing industry, as we felt this might constrain our ability to innovate in the future,” says Jessica Horwitz, Insight Team Leader at Red Kite Community Housing. “We wanted a solution that would give us the flexibility and the advanced technology to drive improvements to our business for many years to come.”

After receiving training from Esri UK, Red Kite Community Housing began using Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop initially to digitise its paper records, add layers of business data and plot the locations of adjacent features such as lamp posts and telegraph poles. It then made interactive maps available, using ArcGIS Online, to at least one employee in every business department, including the call centre and the field-based neighbourhood team. These users can now see everything from property boundaries to the locations of play areas, at a glance, from their desktops or mobile devices.

Subsequently, employees within the insight and business teams began to use ArcGIS Desktop to interrogate and analyse the newly collated asset information, to gain a deeper insight into homes and land, as well as new business opportunities. While Red Kite Community Housing has only been performing GIS analysis for a few months, on specific projects, it is already evident that the new business insight will prove invaluable in helping the organisation to improve the efficiency and quality of its services for customers.

“ ArcGIS is revealing strips of land, previously not identified as having development potential, and unlocking new revenue opportunities for the business

Jessica Horwitz – Insight Team Leader, Red Kite Community Housing

The Benefits

Insight for improving business efficiency
ArcGIS Online has replaced cabinets of printed maps and ledgers, creating time savings in multiple business areas. In the ‘Relationship Stem’, the first point of contact for customers, it might previously have taken several hours for a member of staff to respond to a boundary issue, but queries can now be answered in as little as a few minutes by simply checking a web app. In the future, Red Kite Community Housing plans to analyse maintenance requests and the sequencing of repair jobs to reduce travel time, look at service demand and use this intelligence to shape the service it offers.

Insight for reducing operational costs
Through the use of ArcGIS, Red Kite Community Housing has found parcels of land that it was maintaining but didn’t own, which has opened up conversations with the local authority about maintenance costs. It can also now produce development site plans and documentation to support Access Permits in-house, rather than paying outside agencies to generate them, which contributes to further ongoing operational cost savings. Moving forwards, when new contracts like grounds maintenance come up for renewal in the months ahead, the organisation will be able to provide contractors with more accurate land measurements, leading to fewer assumptions and more competitive tenders.

Insight for informing development planning
In a key business initiative, Red Kite Community Housing is using ArcGIS Desktop to identify areas of land suitable for development and narrow down the search to plots of land of the right size, in the best locations, taking into account potential to work with other third party adjacent land owners. Red Kite Community Housing will also be able to consider the ongoing time that will be required to manage new development opportunities as part of the business case. “ArcGIS is revealing strips of land, previously not identified as having development potential, and unlocking new revenue opportunities for the business,” Horwitz says.

Looking ahead, Red Kite Community Housing plans to use ArcGIS to gain insight into other areas of its business by analysing customer satisfaction surveys, home turnover, geo-demographics and rental income and turning this data into actionable intelligence. Horwitz concludes, “Our continuing use of ArcGIS for analysis will give us added insight into important issues and help to inform new business strategies.”

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connect-plus3

Connect Plus Services

Driving the sustainable operation of the M25

Within the grass verges of the M25, one of Europe’s busiest motorways, Connect Plus Services is taking innovative steps to conserve some of Britain’s protected species and to promote pollinator species.  Using Esri’s ArcGIS platform, the company is able to better understand the environmental impacts of its business, implement schemes to enhance the natural environment and, at the same time, operate more cost efficiently.

Improved schemes to conserve habitats and species

25% more productivity in field workers

The ability to share enhanced quality data

The Challenge

The joint venture company Connect Plus Services works on behalf of Highways England, as part of a DBFO (Design, Build, Finance and Operate) contract comprising all motorways and A roads within Highways England’s Area 5 network around Greater London. As well as maintaining this 228-mile road network, the company has a legal obligation to protect the natural environment, a challenging requirement that also involves monitoring and improving approximately 15 km2 of soft estate on roadside verges.

“ ArcGIS has become a critical tool in helping us ensure that the ongoing maintenance of the M25 has minimal adverse impacts on the environment

Jennifer Banks – GIS Specialist and Environmental Assistant, Connect Plus Services

The Solution

Connect Plus Services has been using geographic information system (GIS) technology ever since its foundation in 2009, when it was awarded the 30-year M25 contract by Highways England.  The company’s Environment Department selected Esri’s ArcGIS platform to meet Highways England’s EnvIS (Environmental Information System) data requirements and improve the quality and quantity of environmental asset data available for the M25 network. It drew together a diverse range of data sets, from on-site surveys and street-view video to water drainage reports and public rights of way data, to build up a valuable and informative picture of the natural environment under its stewardship.

In addition, Connect Plus Services took advantage of ArcGIS Online & ArcGIS Server to create a Corporate GIS for the visualisation of operational data.  Using this platform, the company can make its rich environmental data accessible to all employees, across all departments, via a secure, intranet-based map viewer.  This solution not only displays environmental and asset-related information on an intuitive mapping interface; it also puts basic GIS capabilities in the hands of all employees, enabling them to conduct analysis on demand, to help them make better decisions.

More recently, the Environment Department has used the ArcGIS Collector App to create a versatile mobile GIS solution, integrated with internal systems, that removes the need for surveyors to rely on paper maps and survey forms. Field-based employees enter their survey findings into mobile devices, from the roadside, and the data is automatically and securely transferred directly into Connect Plus Services’ central systems, without any need for further manual data handling.

“ Working with GIS data in apps such as Collector streamlines the digital data hand-over process because our client, Highways England, also use an Esri GIS system to store, view and analyse information

Jennifer Banks – GIS Specialist and Environmental Assistant, Connect Plus Services

The Benefits

ArcGIS now plays a key role in helping Connect Plus Services to meet its environmental obligations more efficiently. The advantages include:

Reduced adverse environmental impacts
Employees use ArcGIS to make more informed decisions about how to mitigate any potentially damaging environmental consequences during and following activities such as essential road maintenance.  “It is vitally important for us to ensure that due consideration is given to the environment in everything we do,” says Jennifer Banks, GIS Specialist and Environmental Assistant at Connect Plus Services.  “ArcGIS has become a critical tool in helping us ensure that the ongoing maintenance of the M25 has minimal adverse impacts on the environment.”

Improved schemes to protect native species
In a range of environmental improvement projects, Connect Plus Services is using ArcGIS to help it proactively conserve protected species and enhance environmental assets.   For instance, the company uses ArcGIS to analyse third-party land that lies adjacent to the soft estate it manages, to determine whether it is feasible to use the roadside verge to create ecological corridors.  As Graham Lee, Environmental Manager at Connect Plus Services, explains, “It is possible to use the motorway verge to enhance ecological connectivity, by joining areas of species-rich grassland so that pollinator species can move more freely within the landscape.”

25% more productivity in the field
Using the mobile GIS solution, the organisation’s environmental inspectors can complete surveys in the field in significantly less time, as they no longer have to record their environmental information on paper, then re-enter it when they get back to the office.  “We have cut the amount of time we spend on surveys and post-survey data entry by up to a quarter,” says Lee. “As a result, we can perform more inspections of the soft estate, more quickly and in greater detail, to meet the growing needs of the business.”

More cost-effective tenders
Connect Plus Services is making ongoing cost efficiencies by giving sub-contractors more accurate plot information relating to grass cutting, weed control and vegetation removal activities.  “When we go out to tender, we receive more competitive prices from contractors, as they have more accurate information about the areas of land we expect them to work on,” Lee says.

Better data, shared more easily with partners
Finally, Connect Plus Services can now continually enhance and more easily share its data.  For instance, new data on environmental assets, collected by mobile surveyors in the field, can be easily submitted quarterly to Highways England, for inclusion in its Environmental Information System (EnvIS). As Banks observes, “Working with GIS data in apps such as Collector streamlines the digital data hand-over process because our client, Highways England, also use an Esri GIS system to store, view and analyse information.”

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The RSPB

Helping new ideas to take flight

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

Enhanced in-house GIS skills and knowledge

Accelerated project delivery

A strong basis for ongoing GIS innovation

The Challenge

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

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

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

Adrian Hughes – Head of GIS Technical Services, the RSPB

The Solution

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

The EPS worked on a range of specific projects including:

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

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

Adrian Hughes – Head of GIS Technical Services at the RSPB

The Benefits

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

Greater return on GIS investment

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

Enhanced in-house skills and knowledge

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

 Accelerated project delivery

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

Improved citizen engagement

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

A platform for innovation in conservation

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

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Transport for London

Delivering a £4 billion Road
Modernisation Plan

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, accelerate road improvement schemes and reduce disruption for road users.

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 road users by ensuring that works are well planned and coordinated

The Challenge

In 2014, Transport for London (TfL) embarked on a £4 billion Road Modernisation 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 six years. The scheme will completely transform the surface transportation network in London, making it fit for the increasing demands of a growing population.

To ensure 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. 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 app 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 app called the Surface Playbook that enables employees to view 170 plus layers of project and asset data on interactive street maps. Subsequently, TfL used Esri’s ArcGIS Online solution to create an external version of the Surface Playbook for London borough councils, which displays 40 data layers that are directly pertinent to the Roads Modernisation Plan.

The internal Surface Playbook app is now being used by over 1000 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 currently being trialled by 27 local authorities. Users of both solutions can select a location on the interactive map and use a 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.

“ 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 app 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 app called the Surface Playbook that enables employees to view 170 plus layers of project and asset data on interactive street maps. Subsequently, TfL used Esri’s ArcGIS Online solution to create an external version of the Surface Playbook for London borough councils, which displays 40 data layers that are directly pertinent to the Roads Modernisation Plan.

The internal Surface Playbook app is now being used by over 1000 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 currently being trialled by 27 local authorities. Users of both solutions can select a location on the interactive map and use a 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 us to create a flexible, scalable and sustainable foundation for the future

Fiona Clowes – GIS Manager, Transport for London

Benefits

Better informed decision making
The 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 Manager 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 gain 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 improve the efficiency of their own road management programmes, further extending the benefits of the GIS.

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 road improvement works on the travelling public. Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport, TfL says: “26 million journeys take place in London every day. The Surface Playbook is a vital tool that will help us to deliver our £4 billion Road Modernisation Plan, reduce disruption for road users and keep London moving.”

A platform for future aspirations
The creation of the corporate 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 apps 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 aspirations of the business.”

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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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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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Sovereign Housing Association

Building a successful and responsible housing organisation

Responsible for 38,000 homes across the south and south west of England, Sovereign Housing Association uses Esri’s ArcGIS platform enterprise-wide to help it address a range of business challenges. The solution helps it to deliver more responsive customer services, better understand the needs of tenants and plan strategically for future growth.

Sovereign Housing Association has extended its use of GIS in a strategic, enterprise-wide initiative that is transforming core business operations. Now, the organisation can deliver more responsive customer services, better understand the needs of its residents and plan more strategically to build new homes.

ArcGIS gives the organisation clearer insight into issues faced by tenants and their property requirements

Sovereign can respond more quickly to enquiries from tenants and deliver better customer service

The organisation uses ArcGIS to reveal business development opportunities and share information with local councils

The Challenge

Sovereign manages and maintains more than 38,000 homes across the south and south west of England. Already one of the UK’s largest housing associations, the organisation aims to grow to 50,000 homes by 2018, to help address the critical shortage of affordable property in this part of the country. It is, however, often difficult to identify suitable development sites that will pass the scrutiny of planning authorities, so Sovereign has to be able to work closely with local councils to facilitate its growth plans.

The housing association currently has more than 80,000 residents in its properties and strives to deliver the best possible services to enable these people to live comfortably and happily in their homes. To consistently achieve a high standard of customer service, it needs an accurate understanding of its residents’ needs and concerns, as well as efficient operations so that it can respond quickly and effectively.

“ When we first used ArcGIS Online in a meeting to highlight potential development sites to a team from a local council, their jaws dropped. It was incredible. ArcGIS has opened up a whole world of opportunity and will certainly help us to achieve our planned growth

Andrew Bradley – GIS Manager, Sovereign Housing Association

The Solution

Sovereign had been using geographic information system (GIS) solutions to manage spatial data for some time, but, in the year of its 25th anniversary, it took the strategic decision to exploit the powerful analysis capabilities of GIS more extensively as part of a wide-ranging business transformation programme. It selected a comprehensive suite of solutions from Esri’s ArcGIS platform, including ArcGIS Server Enterprise Advanced, ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Online, 3D Analyst, Spatial Analyst and Network Analyst and began to apply GIS to pressing business challenges.

At the same time, the organisation decided to extend GIS capabilities out to the whole business, aiming to train 500 employees across all parts of its business by summer 2015. With support from Esri UK’s professional services team, Sovereign built a GIS-based web app to deliver accurate information about properties, assets, land and residents to employees working in all departments ranging from housing services to the customer call centre. Available via the company’s secure intranet, this solution gives everyone in the business instant access to up-to-date business information, all in one place, in an easy-to-use interactive map-based format.

“ ArcGIS is adding value right across our organisation and will continue to do so for years to come. It will enable us to plan and build new homes, work efficiently and deliver better services for residents

Andrew Bradley – GIS Manager, Sovereign Housing Association

Benefits

The enterprise-wide use of ArcGIS has begun to transform the way in which employees work and will deliver long-term benefits for the organisation, as Andrew Bradley, GIS manager at Sovereign, explains. “ArcGIS is adding value right across our business and will continue to do so for years to come,” he says. “It will enable us to plan and build new homes, work efficiently and deliver better services for residents.”

Sovereign employs its new ArcGIS solutions to conduct analysis and gain a deeper insight into business issues and tenant needs. For instance, the company collected data on the incomes and living costs of its residents, at all of its different locations, and performed GIS analysis to ascertain the impact that the government’s new ‘benefits cap’ would have on residents over a period of 5-10 years. When the findings were displayed on a digital map with a time lapse slider, the effects of the new policy became clear. “We could see a wave of impact coming out of London over time and identify easily where and when different types of households would start to struggle,” says Bradley. “ArcGIS is a very powerful tool, helping us to better understand and respond to our residents’ needs.”

The enterprise ArcGIS platform is proving particularly beneficial for Sovereign’s strategic asset management group, a team tasked with identifying and qualifying development opportunities. It has successfully used ArcGIS to pinpoint locations where Sovereign-owned land lies adjacent to under-utilised council-owned land. It then uses ArcGIS Online to share this information with councils and commence negotiations about mutually-beneficial new housing projects. Bradley recalls: “When we first used ArcGIS Online in a meeting to highlight potential development sites to a team from a local council, their jaws dropped. It was incredible. ArcGIS has opened up a whole world of opportunity and will certainly help us to achieve our planned growth.”

Now, if residents contact Sovereign with an enquiry about a boundary, employees can quickly check on the Intranet-based GIS and often clarify issues instantly. Previously, such boundary enquiries had to be passed on to the company’s legal team, and responses could take up to 21 days according to the company’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). “Our employees are empowered with information that they simply didn’t have before,” Alice Rhodes, GIS Analyst at Sovereign says. “Customers get accurate information much more quickly.”

Finally, ArcGIS is enabling Sovereign to improve its operational efficiency, as all employees can share information much more easily. They no longer have to send emails from team to team requesting data and waste time chasing up further details. Instead, they can simply look up the information they need straight away and work more productively.

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Wiltshire Council

Pursuing savings, service improvements and efficiencies

Following the launch of a new data collection solution for mobile workers, Wiltshire Council has identified savings of £275,000, over a five year period, in one department alone. It now plans to roll-out mobile apps to additional business teams in an initiative that is expected to both improve public services and lead to further cost reductions.


Case study – Government


Esri’s ArcGIS Collector app allows teams to collect and edit asset information in the field and makes updates instantly visible to colleagues

Citizens benefit from improved public safety and enjoy council amenities that are more proactively maintained

Plans to extend the use of mobile GIS are expected to contribute to further savings in other departments and a reduction in the council’s carbon footprint

The Challenge

“Everybody matters” according to Wiltshire Council’s well publicised mission statement, and it is this fundamental principle that undoubtedly guides and shapes public services in the county. Like all local government organisations, however, Wiltshire Council has to balance its desire to improve its services with the omnipresent pressure to reduce costs. It also has to consider the environmental impact of its services and minimise its carbon footprint.

The highways team within Wiltshire Council was keen to adopt more mobile working practices to help it deliver a top quality public service more efficiently, and sustainably. The team was working from paper maps in the field and a great deal of time was spent travelling to and from the office, as well as transferring data from paper records to IT systems. Inevitably, data inconsistency issues arose occasionally, and the council didn’t want to risk key decisions being made on asset information that was out-of-date or inaccurate.

“ We have a responsibility to make sure that taxpayers’ money is spent in the best way that it can be. If we are reducing the amount of time and petrol wasted, we can deliver more efficient and proactive services to benefit the population

Julie Seddon – Solutions Manager for Spatial Information at Wiltshire Council

The Solution

Wiltshire Council had been using geographic information system (GIS) technology from Esri UK for the last four years and had an Enterprise License Agreement that gave it unlimited access to Esri’s ArcGIS platform. Therefore, there was no need to invest in any additional software. Matt Rudd and Lauren Wilson from the Spatial Information Team hadn’t developed mobile apps before but, following a one-day JumpStart training programme delivered by Esri UK, they had all the skills and confidence they needed to implement a new mobile GIS.

The solution the council developed specifically for the highways team runs on Samsung tablets and comprises three ArcGIS Collector Apps – drainage, fixed assets (benches, railings, bollards etc.) and play areas. It also includes four supplementary ArcGIS Online Viewer Apps for street litter, grounds maintenance, street cleaning and winter maintenance.

Twenty four highways employees now have access to the mobile apps to identify and plan the areas they wish to survey. Then, once they are at those locations, they use ArcGIS Collector to collect information about specific assets on their tablets, take and save photographs, update records and log changes in the condition of assets as necessary

If highways employees are working in areas with 3G coverage, their asset updates are instantly conveyed to the council’s central GIS. However, when they are working in locations where the mobile signal is poor, such as on Salisbury Plain, their updates are saved on the tablets and synchronised later. Julie Seddon, Solutions Manager for Spatial Information at Wiltshire Council, believes that this capability is critical for successful mobile working. “Wiltshire is such a rural county that offline functionality is absolutely key,” she says.

“ With one central source of master data, we now have up-to-date, accurate drainage and highways asset information that everyone in the council can rely upon. This improves our decision making and, ultimately, the services we deliver to the public

Julie Seddon – Solutions Manager for Spatial Information at Wiltshire Council

Benefits

The Head of Local Highways and Parking Services, Adrian Hampton, calculated that use of the mobile GIS would lead to a £30,000 saving per year on petrol and other travel expenses, as employees no longer have to make so many journeys between the office and the field. Time savings and other process efficiencies contribute a further £24,000 cost reduction, creating a total annual saving of £55,000 or £275,000 over five years. “This is an exceptional result, considering that the highways mobile solution cost just £250 to create in staff time,” says Seddon.

Within months of rolling out the highways solution, it became clear that this practical app could revolutionise the way in which many different council teams worked. The Spatial Information Team therefore started working with other business units, such as emergency planning, and expects to roll-out mobile GIS apps to further teams during the year. The potential five-year savings for the council could therefore increase further in the near future.

Wiltshire Council has yet to calculate the carbon savings that it will achieve from more extensive use of mobile GIS across the unitary authority. However, it is already clear that the reduction in unnecessary journeys and petrol usage will have an important benefit for the environment.

Most significantly, the council has been able to improve its public services, alongside achieving cost and carbon savings. Employees in the highways team can spend more time in the field, managing the conditions of assets, so citizens benefit from better quality amenities like play areas and cycle railings.

Broken equipment can be identified and isolated promptly, so public safety is improved, and the council less exposed to risk. Seddon explains: “If we can proactively capture information about the condition of assets and instigate repairs more quickly, we can reduce claims and safeguard our communities.”

Finally, the highways live master data captured in the field can be shared with all GIS users via ArcGIS Desktop, LocalView Fusion or ArcGIS Collector within the council. “With one central source of master data, we now have up-to-date, accurate drainage and highways asset information that everyone in the council can rely upon,” Seddon enthuses. “This improves our decision making and, ultimately, the services we deliver to the public.”

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