Category Archives: Shared Information

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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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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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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Galway County Council

Safeguarding lives and property from devastating floods

When exceptional flooding occurred in the west of Ireland, Galway County Council employed Esri’s ArcGIS platform to coordinate a fast and effective emergency response.  The council’s rapid and intelligent use of mobile and web GIS technology helped it protect property and safeguard lives during the crisis.

The GIS solution improved public safety by making up-to-date flood information instantly accessible to everyone

ArcGIS supported multi-agency coordination during the emergency, leading to better decision making

GIS helped give the public, partners and employees confidence in the council’s ability to handle the incident

The Challenge

In December 2015, a chain of severe storms swept across the county of Galway, causing devastating floods. 472 properties became cut off, 62 homes were flooded and major transportation routes became impassable, leading to significant concerns for public safety.

Right from the outset, when the first flood warnings were issued, Galway County Council was acutely aware of the challenges it would face. A similar flooding incident had occurred in the county six years before and, on that occasion, the council had struggled to collect data about the rising flood water quickly enough to support the emergency response. It also hadn’t had an effective mechanism for sharing information with the public and stakeholders. This time, however, the council was better prepared. It had recently implemented new geographic information system (GIS) technology from Esri Ireland, which gave it the ability to react incredibly quickly to the emerging crisis.

“The out-of-the-box functionality of ArcGIS allows us to develop new GIS web services and apps at a moment’s notice and address the challenges of a rural county, as they occur.”

Mark Conroy – IS project leader, Galway County Council

The Solution

Galway County Council had replaced all of its separate, multi-vendor GIS packages with Esri’s ArcGIS platform. In tandem, it had used ArcGIS server to create the council’s first centralised store of spatial information, eliminating multiple databases, removing data duplication and making a single source of accurate data available to all of the council’s GIS apps. “For the first time, ArcGIS gave us seamless integration of data and GIS services across mobile, desktop, server and web platforms, online and offline,” says Mark Conroy, IS project leader at Galway County Council.

While the 2015 storms still raged over Ireland, the council used ArcGIS to quickly set up a GIS-based web service to capture information about the floods and store it in the cloud using ArcGIS Online. It then used the ArcGIS Collector App to allow regional engineers, technical staff and other council employees to conduct surveys in the field and upload flood details to the web service via their smart phones and tablet devices. At the same time, staff in council offices used ArcGIS desktop to add information about road closures and uploaded new satellite imagery when it became available. All this information was combined on interactive maps in ArcGIS Online, with no manual intervention, and made visible immediately to all staff, partners, the general public and the media.

“Everyone could follow the progress of the flooding, see which roads were closed and plan safer routes accordingly. By enabling us to share flood information instantly, ArcGIS certainly helped us to improve public safety.”

Mark Conroy – IS project leader, Galway County Council

The Benefits

A faster emergency response

The use of ArcGIS enabled Galway County Council to see precisely which homes and businesses were in danger of flooding and deploy resources promptly to those places where they were most needed.  Rather than wasting time collating data and responding to requests for information, staff could instead focus on making arrangements for drains to be cleared, roads to be raised and culverts to be dug. 63 properties were saved from immediate threat in the wake of the storms, thanks to the timely implementation of such protective  measures.

Greater public safety

Galway County Council was able to use Twitter, Facebook, the council web site and local media to direct people to its online flood map and keep citizens informed about areas of risk. “The general public was getting updated information as quickly as we were in the council,” says Conroy. “Everyone could follow the progress of the flooding, see which roads were closed and plan safer routes accordingly. By enabling us to share flood information instantly, ArcGIS certainly helped us to improve public safety.”

Improved  multi-agency coordination

Every day during the height of the crisis, Galway County Council used its ArcGIS maps to help it share situational information with partners including the Office of Public Works, Health Service Executive, the Gardaí and defence forces who were called in to assist. The maps helped the different agencies to better coordinate their activities and make effective decisions. Conroy observes, “Without a doubt, ArcGIS played a key role in helping us to focus on vulnerable households, deliver constructive support and alleviate suffering in the worst affected communities.”

Increased confidence in the council

Now that the flood waters are subsiding, Galway County Council looks back on its handling of the crisis with satisfaction, knowing that no lives were lost in the county. It also has a full GIS-based record of the extent of the flooding, which will help it collaborate with the Office of Public Works to plan flood alleviation and mitigation schemes going forward. “ArcGIS has helped give internal employees, partners and the general public confidence in thecouncil’s ability to manage floods and other similar emergencies,” Conroy notes. “When the next incident arises, we can be confident that we have the ability to handle it quickly and effectively.”

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Education Authority Northern Ireland

Driving changes in school transportation

Parents in Dungannon, Northern Ireland, can now use an ingenious little web app to check if their children are eligible for school bus travel and apply online. The solution, developed by Esri Ireland, has received enthusiastic feedback from families following a highly successful pilot.

Greater convenience and better information for parents

Potential time savings of over 58 days a year, when the app is rolled out nationally

More accurate address information to assist decision making

The Challenge

Among its numerous responsibilities, the Education Authority is required to facilitate transportation for pupils who live more than a stipulated distance away from their allocated grant-aided school. Northern Ireland is a predominantly rural country and, as a consequence, over 90,000 children are eligible for free travel on school buses. Every summer the Education Authority must consider in excess of 25,000 new applications in time for the start of the academic year. It is a very complicated process, which involves measuring the walking distance to school for each individual applicant and ensuring that

all decisions about whether or not to fund transportation are made both quickly and fairly. Until recently, this entire process was driven by information collected and communicated in paper-based forms.

“The time had come to change this,” says Dale Hanna, transport manager at the Education Authority, Southern Region. “We want to make it really easy for parents to find out if their children are eligible for free travel and then submit accurate information for the application process online.”

“ When the GIS web app is rolled out nationally, we expect to save over 58 says a year, which will free up staff to focus on delivering other important educational services

Dale Hanna – transport manager at the Education Authority, Southern Region

The Solution

To help it achieve its goal, the Education Authority approached Esri Ireland and asked it to use Esri’s geographic information system (GIS) technology to create a web-based app that would be mobile friendly and accessible 24/7. Developed using Esri’s ArcGIS Platform, the solution integrates live Ordnance Survey map services and address data from Land and Property Services (LPS).

This ingenious app is now up-and-running as a pilot and available to parents of pupils moving from primary to post-primary education in the Dungannon area. When parents log in, a screen is presented that is already prepopulated with all of the pupil’s details. A map view shows the street where the pupil lives and an arrow marks the assumed location of the house or flat. If the arrow is in the wrong place, parents can simply slide the map using their touch screen or curser to indicate the precise location of the property.

When parents tap the ‘submit’ button, the GIS-based app automatically calculates walking distances. If the pupil is clearly eligible, parents will receive an instant ‘yes’ response, and their application is automatically forwarded to the transportation team.  Equally, if the pupil is evidently not eligible, parents are immediately notified.  In other cases, such as if pupils live in areas marginally outside the eligible distance, the applications are forwarded for more detailed consideration. “It’s beautifully simple, yet a terrific demonstration of the power of digital geography,” says Eamonn Doyle, chief technical officer at Esri Ireland.

“ This app moves our engagement with citizens to the next level and, in doing so, improves the quality of service to our customers

Colm Daly – information manager at the Education Authority, Southern Region

The Benefits

A convenient service for parents
The school transport app has transformed the quality and availability of information for parents. In the majority of cases, parents can get an instant answer to the question ‘is my child eligible for school transport?’  Parents also have the convenience of being able to apply for transportation online, and don’t have to fill in lengthy forms. “The feedback from parents has been very positive,” says Colm Daly, information manager at the Education Authority, Southern Region. “This app moves our engagement with citizens to the next level and, in doing so, improves the quality of service to our customers.”

Greater public confidence
The new online app also helps to give parents a better understanding of the eligibility criteria for school transport and instils greater confidence in the application process. Whereas previously, the Education Authority only received a postal address for applicants in its paper forms, it now receives emails with a precise map and the coordinates of pupils’ homes. “This helps us to make better, faster decisions,” Daly states, adding that, “the app may over time reduce costly appeals.”

Improved operational efficiency
The Education Authority can now operate more efficiently in the pilot area, as it no longer has to waste time processing applications from parents who have used the app and discovered that they are not eligible. “In our Dungannon pilot, 15% of the people who used our app received a ‘no’ response,” explains Hanna.  “We estimate that it takes 10 minutes to manually process a ‘no’ application, so in the pilot phase alone we saved over one working day. Across the whole of Northern Ireland there are around 2500 ‘no’ applications every year. When the GIS web app is rolled out nationally, we expect to save over 58 days a year, which will free up staff to focus on delivering other important educational services. Additional efficiencies are achievable by future advancements in integration with our back office systems.”

Enhanced data quality
One additional, unexpected, benefit has emerged, as Daly explains. “Because parents can correct the locations of their homes on the online map, they are effectively doing quality control on the address data and that’s pretty interesting from a GIS perspective. It means that we can actually go back to LPS and other data providers in the future and supply them with updates. I don’t think that anybody else in the UK or indeed in Europe is doing that right now.”

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South Dublin County Council

Helping the people of Dublin through the use of ArcGIS

Responding directly to the needs and wishes of citizens, South Dublin County Council has used web and mobile solutions from Esri’s ArcGIS platform to create and enrich a new Community Facilities web app.  This online service is expected to help improve the quality of life for people living, working and doing business in the area.

Accessible information about facilities that citizens can access to improve their lives

A service designed and created specifically to meet the needs of citizens

The ability to enrich and update the web app very efficiently with a small team

The Challenge

In its Corporate Plan 2015-19, South Dublin County Council set out its mission to make the county of South Dublin the “best possible place in which to live, work and do business.”

This strategic document clearly articulated the council’s focus on citizens, stating that “the health and well-being of the people of South Dublin County” would be a key measure of success.  To help it achieve its mission, the council decided to create a new online, map-based information service to give citizens better information about nearby community facilities that they could use to help them lead healthier, more fulfilled lives.

The Solution

As a long-standing user of Esri technology, South Dublin County Council already had the ArcGIS Platform and GIS skills it needed to create its new web app, with no additional investment in software. It was also able to develop the solution very quickly and easily in-house, without the need for outside consultancy, using Esri’s ArcGIS Online and the available templates.

At the outset of the project, the council held a series of focus groups with members of the public, to find out what information citizens would find useful, and then designed the app to cover precisely these themes. Through this citizen engagement, the council received requests for data that it didn’t hold, such as information on allotments and accessible parking spaces around the county. Rather than leave this information out, and fail to meet citizens’ expectations, South Dublin County Council allowed employees to access ArcGIS Online from a wide range of tablets and smart phones, empowering them to collect the specific information citizens wanted to see.

In addition, South Dublin County Council sourced information for citizens by streaming data directly into its Community Facilities web app from third party organisations using web services. For instance, the council pulled in census information from AIRO, which saved time and avoided reinventing the wheel. Moving forwards, the council plans to use Esri’s Collector for ArcGIS app to allow staff members to collect supplementary data using mobile devices, to enrich the app while travelling around the county. As new information is col lected, it can be uploaded directly into the ArcGIS Online app and made visible to citizens immediately.

The Benefits

The new GIS-based Community Facilities web service is now helping South Dublin County Council to achieve its corporate mission by:

Engaging with citizens to encourage healthier lives
The web service makes it very easy for citizens to discover local facilities that might help enrich their lives and enhance their sense of well-being. Whether they are looking for their nearest library or checking local sports facilities, all the information they need is easy to find in one simple web app.

Delivering just what the citizen wants and values
South Dublin County Council now has the impressive ability to collect and publish additional information for citizens very quickly – at a low cost for the council but with a high value for the general public. For example, it can now easily gather and share information about not only where social clubs and sports centres are located, but if these facilities offer yoga, boxing or chess clubs.

Empowering members of staff to work  efficiently
Over recent years, the headcount within some council departments has reduced, so teams have to be able to work more efficiently to deliver a good service. The use of ArcGIS Online and the Collector for ArcGIS app enables the council to capture, update and publish information for citizens with smaller teams. The information can also be updated more often, making it more accurate, and updates are instantly visible online.

Improving decision making and strategic  planning
While the app was first and foremost developed to deliver an enhanced service for citizens, it has also proven exceptionally useful as a decision support tool for senior executives. It is very easy to see, for example, whether play parks and youth facilities are located in the regions that have the highest densities of families with young children. Senior managers have an instant view of the facilities – or lack of facilities – in a given area, allowing them to focus on deploying new services where they are most needed and continually improve community facilities for citizens.

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