Improving asset management in one of Europe’s largest urban development projects, King’s Cross
Responsible for one of London’s largest ever mixed-use development projects, Argent depends on Esri’s ArcGIS platform to help it manage assets and share information with both internal and external stakeholders. GIS plays a pivotal role in enabling the organisation to schedule multiple simultaneous projects and make critical business and financial decisions.
Argent is a leading property development company. In 2008, it joined forces with London & Continental Railways Limited and DHL Supply Chain to form the King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership (KCCLP) and embarked on one of London’s largest ever mixed-use development projects.
Argent uses Esri’s cloud-based service, ArcGIS Online, to share asset maps with colleagues, partners, contractors and other third party organisations
Users can drill down from maps of the entire development site to individual roads, buildings and pipelines and click for up-to-date project information
A GIS phasing tool allows Argent to scrutinise how the 67 acre site will look at different points in the future and make more informed financial and business decisions
In the heart of London, adjacent to busy King’s Cross and St. Pancras rail station lies 67 acres of brownfield development. By 2020, the area will accommodate 50 new and reused buildings, up to 2,000 homes, 20 streets and 10 public squares, providing a modern environment where some 45,000 people can work, live and study.
Argent is responsible for the development and asset management of this ongoing transformation. Over twenty project managers are working together with a wide range of contractors and consultants, using shared services and facilities in close proximity.
One of the challenges faced by Argent and KCCLP was how to manage large amounts of asset information – and indeed how to communicate this information to different stakeholders within KCCLP and Argent, as well as external partners, contractors and stakeholders.
Argent possessed asset maps and plans, but needed the technical capability to share this asset information and the ability to keep pace with constant changes in asset data during the many project phases
Steven Eglinton – Director of GeoEnable
Argent called in consulting firm GeoEnable for advice on how to overcome its asset and project management spatial challenges, as part of a wider initiative to improve information management. GeoEnable identified how geographic information system (GIS) technology could play a key role in the solution, alongside new internal business processes.
Argent had a basic desktop GIS solution, which no longer met the needs of the business. Director of GeoEnable, Steven Eglinton, says: “Argent possessed asset maps and plans, but needed the technical capability to share this asset information and the ability to keep pace with constant changes in asset data during the many project phases.”
GeoEnable deployed Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop solution in conjunction with ArcGIS Online for Organisations, Esri’s cloud-based GIS service. Used together, these GIS solutions allow Argent to create dynamic, interactive asset maps locally, and then share them with team members via the intranet. Users can view high level plans of the entire site, or drill down to individual roads, pipelines or buildings and click on the maps linked to the project management database.
Most Argent employees use a web browser to access ArcGIS Online from their desktops. However, a small but growing number employ customised web apps to access the same capabilities from their smart phones and tablets, while away from the office.
GIS is a strategic asset management tool for business planning as well as site management
Lilia Wydra – GIS Manager at Argent
ArcGIS Online provides a complete, accurate record of all assets involved in the King’s Cross development, both installed and planned, and this information is accessible to everyone in the organisation from planners and surveyors to board members. Every week, projects progress and new contractors arrive; all this data is regularly updated in the GIS, so everyone has access to the same accurate information. “It is easy for everyone to get asset information instantly, whenever they need it,” says Argent’s GIS Manager Lilia Wydra.
ArcGIS Online includes a ‘phasing tool’ that enables users to look forward and see how the site might look at different points in time. This feature plays a critical role in helping Argent to make high-level business and financial decisions, as well as project-level decisions. “The asset information that is accessible via ArcGIS Online influences many decisions we make, from how to plan on-site logistics to when to start marketing new homes, offices and retail outlets,” says Wydra. “GIS is a strategic asset management tool for business planning as well as site management.”
At present, the web-based GIS solution is accessible to Argent and KCCLP employees and a limited number of consultants to KCCLP. The company is also working with external consultancies and construction firms on the development site. GIS has significantly improved KCCLP’s ability to collaborate with third parties and helps to ensure that everyone involved in the King’s Cross development is properly informed.
One of the key advantages of having instant access to shared asset information is that it helps to improve record keeping and phasing. By accessing time-aware information users can easily access what is proposed, when contractors are working on site and clearly see when projects are due for completion. This allows better planning and identifies potential clashes. This is a particularly important issue on large projects like the King’s Cross development, where many different organisations are working together in close proximity.