Category Archives: Shared Information

Mines Advisory Group

Building a future without landmines

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

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

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

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

The Challenge

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

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

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

Shathel Fahs – Technical Field Manager, Team Leader, MAG

The Solution

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

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

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

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

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

Greg Secomb – Global Information Systems Advisor, MAG

The Benefits

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

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

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

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

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The Mighty Creatives

Expanding cultural education by making connections with maps

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

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

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

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

The Challenge

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

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

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

Furthermore, there were many important questions:

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

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

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

The Solution

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Benefits

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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

Niall Looney – Operations Director, 4site

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’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 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.

“ The GIS-led research approach we developed gives us accurate, statistical evidence and allows us to provide objective recommendations with confidence

Dr Alistair Rennie – Dynamic Coast Project Manager, Scottish Government

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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Scotland’s Coastal Change Assessment

Assessing the future impact of coastal change

ArcGIS shows us not only where coastal change has occurred in Scotland over the last century, and how quickly, but where future changes will occur and which of our infrastructure assets will be at risk.

Public sector organisations can collaborate more effectively with a shared understanding of coastal change

Businesses can identify risks to their property and make well-informed decisions to protect their assets

Members of the public can better understand and prepare for coastal changes in Scotland

“ If we had been doing this project five years ago, before ArcGIS Online, we wouldn’t have been able to be as responsive to the original vision of the project and share our coastal change insight with everyone

Lachlan Renwick – GIS Services Manager, Scottish Natural Heritage

The Challenge

While Scotland is renowned for its spectacular coastal cliffs and scenic rocky coves, 19% of the country’s 21,000 km of shoreline is formed of beaches, sand dunes and saltmarshes. Government and university experts are concerned about the potential long-term implications of climate change on these soft landforms, because they are highly susceptible to erosion, as well as accretion from the build-up of sediments along the coast.

The Scottish Government recognises the importance of the likely future impacts of climate change on Scotland’s soft coastal landscapes and joined forces with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the University of Glasgow to undertake the country’s first ever National Coastal Change Assessment. However, before researchers could begin to assess future risks, they first needed to understand what changes had taken place in the last 120 years, where they had occurred and the pace at which these changes had happened.

“ Ultimately the information in DynamicCoast.com helps Scotland, its businesses and communities become more resilient to climate change

Professor Jim Hansom – Principal Researcher for Dynamic Coast, University of Glasgow

The Solution

With funding from Scotland’s Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW), researchers used Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop to analyse geo-rectified historical maps from the 1890s and 1970s alongside modern maps and LiDAR surfaces. They used over a million data points in the soft, erodible sections of the Scottish shoreline and built up a fully interactive map, enabling them to not only depict a century of coastal change, but also calculate the rate of change for every 10 metres of the soft coast. The analysis showed an increase in erosion extent of 39%, a fall in extent of accretion of 22% and a doubling of erosion rates, above historic baseline levels.

Using this evidence base, the researchers then performed sophisticated spatial analysis to identify areas likely to experience future change. They highlighted the areas of anticipated future erosion in dark red on the map and included a ten metre erosion influence area, which together includes more than 50 buildings, 5 km of roads, 2 km of railway and 2 km of water pipes that may be threatened by erosion by 2050. Over £340m of assets are at risk if erosion continues, however, in total, £13bn of assets are protected by ‘natural defences’.

Finally, the project team used Esri’s ArcGIS Online platform to share its insight into coastal erosion via an accessible web map that everyone can easily view, interrogate and understand. Called DynamicCoast.com, it enables people to browse every beach in Scotland, zoom in to view potential erosion risks at any location, using any device, whether they are at home, at work or standing on a beach. Lachlan Renwick, GIS Services Manager at Scottish Natural Heritage says, “If we had been doing this project five years ago, before ArcGIS Online, we wouldn’t have been able to be as responsive to the original vision of the project and share our coastal change insight with everyone.”

“ The GIS-led research approach we developed gives us accurate, statistical evidence and allows us to provide objective recommendations with confidence

Dr Alistair Rennie – Dynamic Coast Project Manager, Scottish Government

The Benefits

Firm evidence of climate change along Scotland’s coast
Using ArcGIS Desktop, researchers have gained tangible evidence about climate change, which they can use to make secure judgements about the future. “As scientists, we are all inherently cautious about making future predictions, yet as advisors we need to give advice to help the Scottish Government, businesses and citizens prepare for the future,” says Dr Alistair Rennie, Dynamic Coast Project Manager, Scottish Government. “The GIS-led research approach we developed gives us accurate, statistical evidence and allows us to provide objective recommendations with confidence.”

Improved resilience to climate change
By accessing DynamicCoast.com, the public and organisations can now easily find out how the continuance of past coastal changes may impact their property and assets and, as a result, make better informed decisions to reduce their longer term risks and costs. For instance, electricity suppliers can use the information to plan the installation of new electricity cables with more confidence, to avoid those areas where their condition and safety may be jeopardised by erosion or changing sea levels in the future. The University of Glasgow’s Prof. Jim Hansom, Principal Researcher for Dynamic Coast, says: “Ultimately the information in DynamicCoast.com helps Scotland, its businesses and communities become more resilient to climate change.”

Greater public awareness of coastal change
As the data is displayed on simple-to-use, interactive maps via ArcGIS Online, people with absolutely no prior experience of GIS can easily understand the implications of continued erosion and climate change on the areas of coastline where they live, work or visit. “For many climate change is a vague and distant topic, but everyone can now see for the first time, precisely how much change has happened and what the future impacts may be on the specific beaches they love,” Renwick says.

A collaborative response to the challenges of coastal change
The versatility of the ArcGIS platform, and the breadth of the analysis available, is the cornerstone of future collaboration between government bodies in Scotland and will lead to more joined-up responses to the challenges of coastal change. Organisations like SNH, SEPA, Historic Environment Scotland and Local Authorities can work more effectively together to assess the implications for threatened sites of historical and environmental interest and put strategies in place to protect and preserve them for future generations.

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Greater London Authority

Meeting rising demand for school places across London

In a ground-breaking project initiated by the London Mayor’s Office, the Greater London Authority has launched an online atlas of London schools, across its 33 London boroughs. The unprecedented clarity of information in the atlas will help the capital meet rising demand for school places, as well as allow families to make better-informed decisions when selecting schools.

London boroughs can understand the cross-boundary flow of pupils to better anticipate demand for school places

Education providers have evidence to justify their funding applications for new schools and expansion projects

Families can see consistent information about all schools and make the right choices for their children

The Challenge

In just eight years’ time, by 2025, London is predicted to need as many as 160,000 additional school places. This phenomenal growth is significantly faster than any other area of the UK and presents a significant challenge for the 33 London borough councils, which are responsible for providing school places in the capital. The complex relationship between population growth and demand for places varies hugely by location and over time, as ‘bubbles’ of growth can work their way through the school system. Understanding the picture spatially is vital because as many as 20% of young people cross borough boundaries to go to school each day.

The picture is similarly complex for parents in the capital who have to decide which schools to apply for or which new area to move into. Although some local authorities publish guidelines or catchment maps, their approach varies, making it difficult for parents to compare the likelihood of getting into different schools and the onward flow from primary schools to secondary schools.

“ ArcGIS gave us the robust platform we needed to openly share the findings from the Mayor’s Educational Inquiry recommendations

Paul Hodgson – GIS and Infrastructure Manager, Greater London Authority

The Solution

Recognising these challenges, The Mayor of London launched an Educational Inquiry and recommended the pan-London collection and analysis of data about school places. The Greater London Authority (GLA) used Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop solution in combination with other products to analyse anonymised data from the National Pupil Database, which comprises information on 8 million pupils, gathered over a five year period. “There aren’t that many systems which can handle the breadth and complexity of pupil and location data that we wanted to analyse and visualise,” says Paul Hodgson, GIS and Infrastructure Manager at the GLA. “ArcGIS gave us the robust platform we needed to openly share the findings from the Mayor’s Educational Inquiry recommendations.”

The organisation then used ArcGIS Server and JavaScript to create a customised, highly intuitive and interactive online map to display its data. This map, named the London Schools Atlas, shows for the first time the areas where pupils from particular schools live, historic catchment areas and feeder schools. Parents can click on their address and select a nearby school to see not only what percentage of children from their area attend this school, but also view the exam results and Ofsted inspection grades for this school and even calculate the journey time by foot or public transport.

The GLA supplemented the London Schools Atlas with data on birth rates, moves in and out of the capital, building developments and other factors that will have an impact on the net growth in pupil numbers in the period 2015-2025 to create graded maps that clearly highlight those areas of London where additional school places will be required in the future, to support critical education planning.

“ One of the GLA’s core missions is to provide strategic coordination across London. This project is a good example of how the GLA is fulfilling that role and adding value for Londoners

Paul Hodgson – GIS and Infrastructure Manager, Greater London Authority

The Benefits

Clear information for parents and carers
Following the launch of the London Schools Atlas, parents and guardians have a single point of reference for consistent, accurate information about all primary, secondary and specialist schools in London. They can access the interactive map from any desktop, tablet or mobile device and easily find the information they need to ascertain the probability of getting places at different schools. “There’s often a lot of anecdotal information at the school gate about how close you have to be to schools to get a place and which secondary schools primary pupils generally feed into,” Hodgson says. “The London Schools Atlas enables parents to make informed decisions when making and ranking their six school choices as part of the school application process.”

Accurate evidence to support future planning
Critically, The London Schools Atlas gives London’s 33 borough councils the evidence they need to approach the Department of Education for central government funding for new schools and school expansion projects to meet the population growth. Likewise, free school groups and academies can use the data presented in the London Schools Atlas to make sure that their proposals for new schools are in the right locations to fulfil projected demand. “It has been estimated that 4,000 new classrooms of 30 children will be needed in London over the next ten years, but not all in the same place at the same time,” Hodgson remarks. “The London Schools Atlas helps all education providers to understand at a local level, where and when places are required.”

Added insight coupled with reduced administration
Education managers working within borough councils now have added insight into demand for school places in their boroughs, because, for the first time, they can clearly see the cross-border flow of pupils. The project also saves time in education departments in boroughs right across the capital, because, as Hodgson says, “instead of publishing schools information 33 times in 33 different formats, it is just done once.” Indeed, individual boroughs will now be able to spend less time looking for and analysing information and can focus instead on meeting pupil needs and raising education standards.

Exemplary public sector coordination
In many ways, the London Schools Atlas is a beacon of best practice for London, as it demonstrates how the London Mayor’s Office and the GLA can provide leadership to improve efficiency and optimise public services in the capital. Hodgson says: “One of the GLA’s core missions is to provide strategic coordination across London. This project is a good example of how the GLA can fulfil that role and add value for Londoners.”

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Aylesbury Vale District Council

Transforming citizen engagement by shifting to digital channels

After reviewing its current reporting system, used by residents to report issues and concerns, Aylesbury Vale District Council utilised Esri UK’s professional services expertise to create a new and improved online reporting model. Not only delivering a better service to its citizens but also making vital resource and cost savings.

More efficient reporting of problems – fewer queries, errors and wasted trips

Improved service to residents – easier online reporting and faster resolution of problems

Reduced contact volumes – by avoiding duplicate reporting and minimising clarifications

The Challenge

Engagement with residents to maintain and improve their quality of life is a critical aspect of Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC)’s work. ReportIT is a mechanism by which issues or problems can be reported by residents, for action by the council. The system covers a broad range of concerns, from abandoned vehicles and antisocial behaviour to fly tipping and the safety of young people.

This important activity was found to be labour-intensive and potentially error-prone. The review of ReportIT identified several factors contributing to inefficiencies:
Reported problems often lie outside the council’s jurisdiction. Residents can be unaware of council structures and responsibilities, so would raise concerns to AVDC that were actually the responsibility of a different council.
Problems were being reported multiple times. Residents had no indication whether a problem has already been reported, so it would be reported again, causing duplication of effort.
Contractors resolving problems often attended the wrong location or needed to visit the site repeatedly, leading to wasted time and cost. This was because the reporting form did not capture all the information, including precise location, needed for first time resolution.
Residents like to be kept informed, but provision of regular updates was time consuming.

As part of its transformation journey, AVDC is adopting a ‘New Business Model’ which will remove such inefficiencies. The council identified that by shifting the primary contact channel to a new online reporting system it could:
1. Reduce the number of inbound contacts.
2. Reduce the cost of processing each report.
3. Improve feedback to residents.

AVDC had a suitable technology platform – ArcGIS Online from Esri, but cuts had meant that it did not have the resources to create the new solution. Furthermore, cost savings were needed quickly, so time was of the essence.

“ The new ReportIT solution has significantly improved the quality of information we are able to obtain on the initial contact enabling us to make improvements in our handling time for each individual report

Debbie White – Interim Customer Relationship Team Manager, Aylesbury Vale District Council

The Solution

The council contracted an Embedded Product Specialist (EPS) from Esri UK, chosen for their deep knowledge of the capabilities of ArcGIS Online. The EPS used standard templates to quickly create two vital applications:

1. Reporting tool. Esri UK’s QuestionWhere Builder enables a questionnaire or survey to be built around location-based questions. The EPS used QuestionWhere Builder to create a suite of forms, one for each type of problem being reported. A built-in map ensures that the location of the problem is correctly identified and that the problem falls within the regional boundaries of AVDC. Each report includes all the information a contractor needs to resolve the problem.

2. Analysis dashboard. AVDC’s communities and customer services teams needed a simple, visual way to monitor activity and identify any problems needing action. The EPS created a map-based visualisation that enabled the teams to query by boundary area, class of report and thus identify patterns and resolve issues.

Rather than write an exhaustive specification, the EPS used rapid prototyping techniques to create demonstration versions that gave AVDC a quick view of what was possible. The council provided immediate feedback to the EPS who, based in the council’s offices, implemented any changes there and then. This iterative approach kept the project on track and shortened development timescales.
The EPS also trained key IT staff from AVDC to use the tools, create new reports, edit existing reports, and maintain and develop the solution going forward. The whole project was completed in just five days.

“ Having the Esri UK EPS on site meant that we could try out different approaches and rapidly iterate the solution. The new ReportIT tool is already having an impact on our operations and thanks to the training from the EPS, we now have the capability to adapt our solution as needs change in the future

Debbie White – Interim Customer Relationship Team Manager, Aylesbury Vale District Council

The Benefits

Speed
The EPS helped AVDC rapidly assimilate the latest technology. Reporting and resolution processes are now smoother and faster as there are fewer queries, errors and wasted trips.

Flexibility
The council’s requirements are sure to evolve over time and it is well equipped to change the functionality of the solution as needed in the future. Yet AVDC is not dependent on permanent IT resources for ongoing development and support.

Improved service to residents
Residents can now report problems and track progress at a time of their own choosing. Their concerns and problems are now resolved by AVDC more quickly and with minimum need for discussion.

Reduction in contact volumes
The map-based tool helps residents report correctly – so that AVDC does not have to process reports that are outside its jurisdiction. Costly duplicate reporting is avoided and further questions and clarifications are minimised.

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Thames Water

Improving the efficiency and quality of asset maintenance

Thames Water, the UK’s largest water and wastewater services provider, has cut the time required to survey a pipe bridge from 7-10 days to 2-3 hours, while also improving data quality. Consequently, it can now implement a proactive, condition-based maintenance programme to significantly reduce costs and enhance customer satisfaction.

Thames Water has rapid access to accurate, consistent and complete data on thousands of pipe bridges

Maintenance jobs can be prioritised based on condition and planned proactively to reduce pipe bursts

Employees and contractors can perform pipe repairs more cost efficiently and safely

The Challenge

Throughout London and the Thames Valley region there are over 5,000 bridges that convey fresh or waste water pipes over roads, rivers, canals and gorges. Thames Water wanted to implement a more proactive programme of repairs and upgrades to improve the condition of these bridge-based assets, but did not have a complete, centralised source of information about them that it could use to inform its maintenance planning.

Previously, pipe bridges had been surveyed by Thames Water’s regional teams using paper-based sheets in the field. Employees then typed up their surveys when they returned to the office, wasting time with the potential of manual data entry errors. By centralising its pipe bridge survey process, Thames Water aimed to furnish its master asset database with accurate information on all 5,000 pipe bridges and filter out regional variations in the type and quality of data collected.

“ With Esri UK’s help, not only did we solve the problem of the pipe bridges project, but we also gained a degree of self-sufficiency so that we can go on to develop similar projects within the business in the future

Lawrence Smith – Technical Information Manager, Thames Water

The Solution

Thames Water decided to use a GIS-based mobile data collection app that would integrate with its existing centralised ArcGIS database. The solution had to be highly intuitive as it would be used by employees and contractors within eight2O, an alliance of Thames Water, industry partners and joint ventures, formed to deliver a suite of infrastructure investment programmes on behalf of Thames Water.

With minimal consultancy support from Esri UK’s Professional Services team, Thames Water succeeded in developing a Pipe Bridges Validation app in just 14 working days, while also gaining invaluable new GIS skills. “This was our first foray into GIS online and we saw the project as a pilot with intent,” says Dr Lawrence Smith, Technical Information Manager at Thames Water. “With Esri UK’s help, not only did we solve the problem of the pipe bridges project, but we also gained a degree of self-sufficiency so that we can go on to develop similar projects within the business in the future.”

Now in use throughout all of Thames Water’s regions, the Pipe Bridges Validation app draws in existing asset information from ArcGIS Server to partially populate the survey ‘form’ on mobile devices. Employees edit, correct and supplement this information while in the field and, as key fields are mandatory, Thames Water is able to ensure that each pipe bridge survey records the same attributes and information. The data collected is then made available to a secondary app in ArcGIS Online for checking and verification, before being transferred without any additional data entry, into the master database in ArcGIS Server. Managers have a range of reporting tools that they can use to track the progress of surveys and see where survey teams are working at all times.

“ We now have incredibly rapid access to survey data that is complete, accurate and consistent for all the thousands of pipe bridges under our responsibility

Lawrence Smith – Technical Information Manager, Thames Water

The Benefits

Rapid collection of accurate asset information
The new Pipe Bridge Validation app has significantly reduced the time lapse between data collection in the field and the availability of that data at head office. Thames Water estimates that it used to take 7 to 10 days to capture survey information using the previous paper-driven method, but now validated data from completed pipe bridge surveys is available centrally in just 2 or 3 hours. “We now have incredibly rapid access to survey data that is complete, accurate and consistent for all the thousands of pipe bridges under our responsibility,” Smith says.

Proactive asset maintenance to enhance customer satisfaction
With improved pipe bridge data, Thames Water is now able to implement a proactive, condition-based asset maintenance programme that is, in time, expected to contribute to enhanced customer satisfaction. The company can prioritise repairs on the pipe bridges that are in the worst condition, minimising the likelihood of sudden pipe bursts or pollution incidents that might lead to customer complaints or reputational damage. With fewer complaints and service issues, Thames Water can improve its Ofwat customer index score.

Sustainable cost efficiencies in planned maintenance activities
Maintenance activities can also be undertaken far more cost efficiently, due to effective planning. Managers within both Thames Water and eight2O have better information to enable them to assign the correct maintenance plan to each pipe bridge, gain the necessary access permissions in advance and dispatch the right teams with the appropriate equipment and materials. Consequently, engineers are less likely to waste time sitting in their vans waiting for landowners to unlock access gates and will avoid having to make unnecessary repeat trips because they have the wrong materials in their vans for the type of pipe on the bridge.

Greater employee, contractor and public safety
In the new GIS-led process, surveyors take photos of pipe bridges and these images – along with supplementary data captured in the field – help to improve understanding of potential hazards at pipe bridges. When going out to each new maintenance job, employees and contractors from Thames Water and eight2O will now be better informed about what to expect and can ensure they have the right safety equipment with them to protect themselves and the general public during essential works.

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Fera Science

Conveying scientific evidence from drones to decision makers

The agri-food research company Fera Science has developed a GIS-based web app to share high resolution imagery from an Unmanned Aerial System with a range of government and commercial clients. The solution gives decision makers a deeper understanding of complex environmental and agricultural challenges, so they can plan more effectively to protect our natural resources and food security.

A root vegetable grower can identify inconsistencies in crop sowing to increase future food production

A government agency can survey and protect endangered trees more cost effectively

A large landowner can plan a more sustainable business expansion, while improving safety

The Challenge

In a world challenged by population growth, pollution and climate change, Fera Science provides accurate, scientific evidence to support critical decisions in the agriculture and environment industries. It delivers research data and advice for 7,500 government and commercial organisations, helping them to increase food production, ensure water quality, maintain food nutrition and sustain our natural resources.

Every year Fera undertakes over 600 research assignments and, in the Land Use and Sustainability Team specifically, nearly half of all projects involve the collection and analysis of remotely sensed imagery. To supplement the use of imagery from satellites and manned aircraft, Fera acquired an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), capable of taking higher resolution spatial images at a significantly lower cost than a piloted aircraft. However, to optimise the value of its new UAS services, Fera needed a way to make the high quality imagery and analysis available to clients, in a format that they could interrogate, interpret and ultimately use to make better-informed decisions.

“ Esri’s Web AppBuilder enables us to produce web apps easily in-house, without the need for support and bespoke code from specialist app developers

Lee Butler – GIS Specialist, Land Use and Sustainability Team, Fera

The Solution

Fera has been using solutions from Esri’s ArcGIS platform for many years and has an Enterprise Licence Agreement with Esri UK that gives it unlimited access to Esri’s full software portfolio. Taking advantage of Esri’s Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS, the company designed a web app that allows clients to view data from the UAS, zoom in to the full resolution of the imagery, turn on map layers and view attributes specifically relating to their projects. A typical 25-minute UAS flight generates over 6GB of data, comprising up to 3,000 individual photographs that are mosaicked together to create a single, seamless image.

The simplicity of the ArcGIS Web AppBuilder means that Fera can quickly build a bespoke web app for each client to include ‘widgets’ that allow decision makers to perform analysis tasks, such as counting trees or crops in a custom-defined area. “Esri’s Web AppBuilder enables us to produce web apps easily in-house, without the need for support and bespoke code from specialist app developers,” says Lee Butler, a GIS Specialist within Fera’s Land Use and Sustainability Team.

“ The ArcGIS web apps allow our clients to interact with, interrogate and analyse the imagery collected by the drone, which they couldn’t do previously

Lee Butler – GIS Specialist, Land Use and Sustainability Team, Fera

The Benefits

An efficient and high quality service for clients
The use of ArcGIS web apps enables Fera to deliver a UAS imaging service for its clients that is as cutting-edge and professional as its scientific research methods. Furthermore, as Fera no longer has to manually produce paper and pdf maps, it saves up to 10 hours every month and can deliver its UAS imagery to clients more promptly. “The ArcGIS web apps allow our clients to interact with, interrogate and analyse the imagery collected by the UAS, which they couldn’t do previously,” Butler says. “It allows them to acquire a far deeper understanding from the aerial imagery and gain added value from our services.”

Increased agricultural crop yields
One of the first companies to benefit from Fera’s web app is an agricultural company that grows potatoes and root vegetables. After the UAS flew over two large potato crop fields, the client used the web app to assess planting efficiency and automatically count plants, so that it could estimate yield more accurately and provide better forecasts to its customers. Using the ArcGIS web app, the client identified unexpected gaps in fields, where the planting machinery had not planted in a uniform manner throughout the crop and at the start of planting rows. Enlightened, it is now using this new information to review its planting techniques to increase crop yields for next year.

More cost efficient environmental surveys
Another of Fera’s clients, a government agency, is using the web app to help it monitor the outbreak of pests and disease in trees more cost efficiently and protect British woodlands. The UAS flies over areas where there are confirmed or suspected incidents of tree disease. The imagery is then processed and classified to tree species using imagery classification techniques. Tree inspectors can then view the imagery using the ArcGIS web app to identify the precise locations of tree species that are susceptible to that particular disease. Using this newly-gained insight, inspectors can plan their surveys more effectively to save time and money. They can even access the web app in the field using web-connected tablets, to help them find potentially infected trees more quickly.

Safe and sustainable land use
The ArcGIS web app can in fact be invaluable in supporting the use of UAS imagery in all kinds of land use projects. For instance, it is currently being used by a quarrying company in County Durham, where the UAS captured images over a 174 hectare site. Senior executives at the quarry use the ArcGIS web app to better interpret imagery in 2D and 3D and make decisions relating to the ongoing, sustainable use and future expansion of the site. They also use the app to brief visitors and members of staff about the locations of potential hazards, which helps to improve health and safety.

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geohive

OSI GeoHive

Unlocking the economic benefits of geospatial data & maps

Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) has launched a new online mapping service that helps to unlock Ireland’s vast reserves of geospatial data.  Called GeoHive, this free web app is expected to support the recovery of the Irish economy and pave the way for public and private sector organisations to save millions of Euros.

GeoHive provides a single portal to 142 layers of geospatial data from 35 public sector organisations

 

Users can create and share meaningful maps of Ireland, for free, using any PC, laptop or mobile device

The solution presents trusted information to support decisions about new investments in Ireland

The Challenge

OSi is in no doubt of the incredible value that geospatial data can deliver for the Irish economy. In 2013 it commissioned an Economic Assessment of Ireland’s Geospatial Industry, which concluded that better use of location-based information could lead to annual cost savings of €82m in the public sector, time savings with an economic value of €279m and competition benefits of €104m. Inspired by these findings, OSi decided to take a lead in making Ireland’s vast geospatial data resources more widely available via the Internet.

The national mapping organisation already had an online map viewer, which attracted over 1.5 million unique visitors a year. However, the technology behind this web service was becoming out dated and couldn’t deliver digital cartography to tablet and mobile devices. OSi therefore launched an ambitious project to replace its existing map viewer with a new online portal that would improve the user experience, as well as make third party, public sector data easily accessible from a single location.

“ArcGIS has enabled OSi to deliver a service that has the potential to really boost the value of geospatial data to the Irish economy.”

Colin Bray, chief executive, Ordnance Survey Ireland

The Solution

A long-standing user of Esri geographic information system (GIS) technology, OSi worked closely with Esri Ireland to completely redevelop and modernise its online mapping capability, using Esri’s ArcGIS platform. Named GeoHive (www.geohive.ie), the new, free-to-use web service now delivers significantly enhanced facilities for users, including a new ‘make your map’ capability. “For the first time, users can access current and historical OSi maps on their mobile phones and tablets, whenever they need them,” explains Hugh Mangan, general manager of business and marketing, OSi. “GeoHive also gives users the ability to create maps in a much simpler way, save them and share them instantly with colleagues using any device.”

Most importantly, GeoHive combines OSi mapping with data from a wide range of public sector partners, to create an authoritative national Spatial Data Infrastructure. “GeoHive is a classic portal, in that it provides an access point to lots of existing sets of spatial data that have already been published,” Mangan says. “However, it is unique in Ireland in the way that it combines over 142 layers of third party data from 35 public sector bodies and presents them seamlessly to the end user from a single site.”

“GeoHive also gives users the ability to create maps in a much simpler way, save them and share them instantly with colleagues using any device.”

Hugh Mangan – general manager of business and marketing, OSi

The Benefits

Launched on 3rd November 2015 by Ireland’s Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, GeoHive is now enabling OSi to achieve its aspirations. The online portal delivers:

 Greater access to geospatial information

With the development of GeoHive, OSi is now able to expose many more individuals and organisations to the vast reservoirs of geospatial data that exist in Ireland. From one single website, users can combine and layer different data sets against the background of up-to-date OSi maps, to uncover fresh insight into situations and easily share that information using mobile devices.

Trusted evidence to support investment decisions

It is anticipated that GeoHive will help to encourage new investments in Ireland, supporting the recovery of the Irish economy. For example, an industry story map, included in GeoHive, shows information about the working population, skills, infrastructure and transportation. “If a business owner is considering opening a new office or factory in Galway, GeoHive presents all the information that they need to help them understand the area and make informed decisions,” Mangan says.

Substantial opportunities to make cost savings

OSi is confident that GeoHive will play a key role in helping organisations to improve their efficiency and thereby unlock the significant cost savings opportunities identified in its Economic Assessment of Ireland’s Geospatial Industry. According to OSi’s chief executive, Colin Bray, “ArcGIS has enabled OSi to deliver a service that has the potential to really boost the value of geospatial data to the Irish economy. By making location-based data more accessible, useable and meaningful for everyone, GeoHive will help public and private sector organisations to reduce costs, save time and capitalise on new business opportunities.”

Improved public services for citizens

GeoHive enables all participating public sector organisations to deliver a better customer service, by making their data more accessible to a wider number of potential users. Citizens can not only find public information more easily, but also have simple-to-use tools to help them apply it to their areas of interest and make informed choices that will enrich their lives. Summing up, Mangan observes, “GeoHive provides a window to a wider world.”

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