Category Archives: Strategic Decisions

Transport Infrastructure Ireland

Driving efficiency improvements in national road surveys

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has deployed a mobile ArcGIS solution to help it automate, standardise and accelerate its annual survey to assess the skid resistance of national roads throughout Ireland. It can now plan and undertake road surface inspections with 20% fewer people, while collecting better data to inform highway improvement programmes.

Mobile inspectors find inspection sites more quickly and collect data more efficiently in the field

Office-based teams don’t waste time printing maps, creating forms, uploading data and filing information

Senior managers monitor and manage progress with real-time insight into the status of surveys

The Challenge

The national road network in Ireland is around 5,300 km long, incorporating multilane motorways and rural single carriageways. Every year, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) is required to undertake detailed inspections of around 1,000 locations nationwide that have been identified as potentially posing an increased risk of skidding in the future. While none of the inspection sites present an immediate threat to safety for the general public, TII has to complete its survey within four months, so that recommendations can be acted upon as part of proactive road maintenance activities.

Known as the HD28 survey, the skidding risk assessment used to be a very manual process, demanding a large amount of staff time. Inspectors would be given print-outs showing maps of the locations of inspection sites and would collect road observations and data on paper forms. Typically, they had a bundle of around 40-50 sheets of paper for a week’s work and wasted lots of time in the field trying to find inspection sites, as well as grappling with paper in wet and windy weather. Many days of effort were also required in the office to plan inspections, print maps, report on the survey’s progress, enter the collected data into central systems and file away the paper forms.

“ The mobile survey app and reporting dashboard were created and deployed in just one day by the TII in-house team, with no need for consultancy support

Brendan Kennedy – GIS Manager, Transport Infrastructure Ireland

The Solution

TII completely transformed its paper-driven HD28 survey process using solutions from Esri’s ArcGIS platform. Using Collector for ArcGIS, the organisation created a mobile app enabling inspectors to see the precise locations of inspection sites on digital maps, collect data in the field using drop-down boxes and upload it directly to Esri’s ArcGIS Online. Critically, the solution works in online and offline modes, so it can be used in rural areas where there is no mobile coverage. TII also used Esri’s Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS to create a live reporting interface for management at TII to monitor the progress of surveys.

Remarkably, TII was able to create this entire solution incredibly quickly, due to the “ease-of-use and flexibility of ArcGIS,” according to Brendan Kennedy, GIS Manager at TII. “The mobile survey app and reporting dashboard were created and deployed in just one day by the TII in-house team, with no need for consultancy support,” he says.

A key advantage of the ArcGIS-based solution is that the app can be used by employees on their own devices, including mobile phones not owned by TII. Users simply download the app and log in with a secure user name and password. “We didn’t have to purchase and deploy tablets or make any other hardware investments, which kept the cost down,” says Kennedy. “We can also flexibly introduce more people to the survey team from our regional offices, when necessary, to help us meet targets.”

 

 

“ Due to staff changes, we have around 20% fewer personnel and yet can still complete the HD28 survey programme within the required timeframe

Tom Casey – Head of Pavements, Construction Materials & Innovation, Transport Infrastructure Ireland

The Benefits

Efficiencies improved by 20%
As employees no longer have to manually plan their surveys and transfer their survey findings from paper to electronic systems, individual efficiencies have increased by around 10-20%. Indeed, TII estimates that six employees each save one month per year as they do not have to print, file, upload and manage hard copy forms and maps. “Due to staff changes, we have around 20% fewer personnel and yet can still complete the HD28 survey programme within the required timeframe,” says Tom Casey, Head of Pavements, Construction Materials & Innovation at TII.

Greater speed and flexibility in the field
Using the ArcGIS mobile app, inspectors waste less time trying to find sites and can complete nearly twice as many inspections in a typical day. “When the process was paper based, I would get through around 7 to 8 inspections per day; with the app I usually do around 15 inspections per day,” estimates Stephen Smyth, Senior Manager for the Pavement Asset Programme. As all the data inspectors need is always with them, on their phones, they can carry out surveys on a more flexible, impromptu basis, at short notice, when they are already in the area, without having to return to the office to collect the necessary paperwork, which significantly improves their efficiency.

Real-time oversight of survey programme
Previously, TII employees had to develop weekly reports on the status of the survey for senior managers. Now, however, real-time information is available on demand, online, allowing managers to monitor and manage the survey process more effectively. “We can identify regions where perhaps an additional inspector is needed to complete a job list and better allocate resources around the country to ensure that the survey is completed as quickly as possible,” Kennedy explains.

Better decisions about road maintenance
The GIS-driven process improves the accuracy and consistency of the survey data collected, which in turn helps TII to make better informed decisions about interventions and restorative roadworks. The organisation can incorporate skid resistance improvement works into other planned road improvement programmes in the same area, reducing the cost of interventions, minimising disruption for road users and maintaining the safety of roads for years to come.

 

 

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Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation

How location technology helping transform businesses and industries

Esri is helping organisations around the world to build a connected workforce and modernise their operational processes to deliver enhanced customer services with powerful location analysis tools and ready to use apps. A digital transformation doesn’t need to be a complex project that takes months or costs a fortune. Our customers across all sectors are driving innovation by uncovering new insights with Smart Mapping, saving hours of time collecting information in the field with ready to use apps and ultimately providing more timely and efficient services to their customers and the public.

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Fire and Rescue eBook

Fire and Rescue

Increasing operational efficiency and effectiveness

The role of a modern Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) has become much broader than simply putting out fires. From prevention of road traffic collisions to neighbourhood renewal, the FRS has become deeply embedded in the community. Activities such as education of young people, working with older people to keep them safe in their homes, providing first aid and preventing crime are all part of this wider remit. As a result, services have made a major contribution to ensuring safe and resilient communities, protecting people and places from harm and creating conditions for economic prosperity. They have driven a 50% reduction in the number of fires and a 20% drop in the number of fire fatalities since the 1980s. However, in the current economic and political environment, even more is expected.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are increasingly being used to meet these challenges. In this eBook, discover how this innovative technology unlocks the location component of data for greater insights, enables significantly more efficient automated field data collection and facilitates sharing up to date information with a wide range of internal stakeholders and the public through intuitive map-based visualisations.

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The Internet of Things – Why Location Matters eBook

The Internet of Things – Why Location Matters

How location transforms raw data into actionable intelligence

eBook

We are moving rapidly to an ever more connected world and the opportunities for the Telecommunications industry are significant, from new connectivity offerings based on dedicated IoT infrastructure to participating in the data market and the creation of new applications. At the core, since everything happens somewhere and all the things in the IoT have a place, location information is pivotal to maximising the potential and in particular to transforming raw data into valuable, actionable intelligence.

The ‘Internet of Things; Why Location Matters’ ebook is essential reading for understanding this potential, from management of mobile industrial assets and crowdsourcing air quality monitoring to targeted mobile advertising, smarter refuse collection and the Smart Home. It is an essential guide for telecommunications businesses to understand how to leverage the location information that will be the key to realising potential revenue streams from the IoT.

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Land Use Consultants

Meeting urgent demand for new homes in the UK

LUC, a multi-disciplinary consultancy, is using Esri’s ArcGIS platform to help local authorities respond more effectively to the critical shortage of housing in the UK. The consultancy’s use of advanced geospatial analysis enables councils to identify suitable development land for new houses far more quickly and meet Government targets for new homes.

LUC’s GIS team reduces site assessment from 7 days to 2-3 hours, using automation

Robust and consistent evidence generated from the analysis of 150+ datasets

Better decisions about sustainable future development based on in-depth criteria assessment

The Challenge

In the UK, there is currently a significant shortage of homes, contributing to rising house prices, high rental costs and even, in rare cases, homelessness. In response, the Government has committed to a range of reforms to increase the supply of new housing. As it points out in its February 2017 white paper ‘Fixing our broken housing market’, there is an urgent need to plan for “the right homes, in the right places” and, critically, “build homes faster.”

Local planning authorities have a pivotal role to play in driving the success of this Government policy. They are required to produce a Local Plan that sets a vision and framework for the future development of the area, including identifying areas suitable for housing developments and making sufficient land available to meet ambitious targets for new homes. In what is a highly complex process, they have to evaluate thousands of parcels of land throughout their administrative areas, taking into account dozens of factors ranging from flood risk and agricultural value to environmental protection and local services such as schools and transport. They also need to consider data from neighbouring local authorities and partners, as part of a fully auditable process that can produce consistent evidence for decision making.

“ A considerable percentage of local planning authorities find it hard to undertake a detailed study of their potential development land, primarily because of the enormous spatial complexity of the task. Our standardised, ArcGIS-driven approach now makes it both fast and easy for councils to make consistent well-informed decisions about the best locations for new housing

Edith Lendak – Principal GIS Consultant, LUC

The Solution

LUC recognised that it could help local authorities to identify and assess potential development land more effectively, by creating a new automated tool to analyse housing growth options. The company has been using Geographic Information System (GIS) solutions from Esri’s ArcGIS platform for 20 years, so instinctively turned to ArcGIS to design, build and deliver a brand new service for its local government customers.

Using Esri’s ModelBuilder, LUC created an advanced geospatial analysis system that can systematically and automatically analyse parcels of land against hundreds of data sets and categorise them according to their relative levels of suitability for new housing. The solution automatically assesses factors such as flood risk, proximity to historic monuments and existing local services, drawing on data from local authorities and government advisory bodies, such as the Environment Agency and Natural England.

A key advantage of the approach is that analyses can be repeated easily, on demand, allowing LUC to test different weightings for certain planning constraints and explore a number of different options, without having to start again from scratch. Free from human error, the analysis results will always be consistent, so if LUC undertakes projects for neighbouring councils, the outputs will be directly comparable.

“ ArcGIS generates a robust evidence base which underpins Growth Options Assessments and enables decisions to be made with greater confidence

Edith Lendak – Principal GIS Consultant, LUC

The Benefits

LUC used its geospatial analysis system to help Central Bedfordshire Council identify and assess realistic options for the development of up to 20,000 new homes and related infrastructure by 2035. The benefits that the ArcGIS-based solution delivered include:

Substantial time savings
LUC’s approach, using ArcGIS to analyse the council’s area against three assessment strands (primary constraints, secondary constraints and access to services), using more than 150 datasets, ensured tight project deadlines were met. This complex evaluation process would have taken around 35 working days of manual GIS work for five iterations, whereas it took just two days for five iterations using the prepared automated models.

Repeatable, modular and flexible processes
As LUC’s geospatial analysis process is both fast and repeatable, specialist planners at LUC and Central Bedfordshire Council were able to explore different options for site assessment. They could easily make changes to their land selection criteria, change the weighting of constraint factors and re-run the analysis to model different scenarios in just a few hours. This enabled the planners to evaluate issues more thoroughly and find the right balance between meeting the needs of a growing population and protecting the environment.

Robust and defendable evidence base
The integrity and accuracy of the new GIS-based approach created an auditable process that enabled Central Bedfordshire Council to justify the selected land parcels in preparation of its Spatial Strategy, which will form part of its emerging Local Development Plan. As Lendak says, “ArcGIS generates a robust evidence base which underpins Growth Options Assessments and enables decisions to be made with greater confidence.” Rather than having multiple reports and data sources to study, planners could see at a glance, on colour-coded maps, which parcels of land may be most appropriate for sustainable development and drill down to understand why.

LUC’s GIS team is currently extending the capabilities of the Growth Options Tool, to provide even greater flexibility and speed when testing different scenarios for housing site selection. The solution forms part of a suite of tools aimed at identifying sustainable development opportunities for renewable energy and housing and will be used on projects for councils across the UK.

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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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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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Norfolk County Council

Norfolk County Council

Improving the commissioning of school transport for vulnerable children

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

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

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

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

The Challenge

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

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

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

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

The Solution

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

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

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

Tim Hudson – Information Exploitation Team Manager, Norfolk County Council

The Benefits

Reduced costs in the provision of school transport

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

Fine-tuned services that meet the needs of vulnerable pupils

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

Improved staff productivity and faster decision making

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

Better information to support future planning

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

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Red Kite Community Housing

Putting insight into action

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

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

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

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

The Challenge

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

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

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

Jessica Horwitz – Insight Team Leader, Red Kite Community Housing

The Solution

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

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

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

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

Jessica Horwitz – Insight Team Leader, Red Kite Community Housing

The Benefits

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

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

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

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

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