The Canal & River Trust

17th December 2015
Esri UK

The Canal & River Trust

Keen to develop an online GIS service for its third party contractors, the Canal & River Trust took advantage of Esri UK’s Jumpstart training programme. With only two days of professional support, the organisation was then ready to launch a new service that is already helping contractors to work more efficiently and safely.

The Customer

The Canal & River Trust is the charity responsible for conserving, restoring and enhancing 2,000 miles of canals and rivers in England and Wales.

Contractors can now quickly find the correct work sites on the canal and river network, minimising time wasted, enabling jobs to be completed more quickly

The ArcGIS Online app gives contractors instant access to up-to-date information on the condition of paths, helping to improve health and safety

The organisation’s GIS team gained valuable knowledge and time-saving tips from Esri UK throughout the Jumpstart programme

The Challenge

Through its work, the Trust wants to ensure that its waterways are a haven for both people and nature to enjoy. To help it achieve these aims, the Trust relies on a number of prime contractors, who are appointed to carry out civil and mechanical engineering, diving, dredging, property maintenance, vegetation management and other vital tasks.

Each of these contracts has different requirements. For one contractor, the Trust provides ‘works packs’, which include printed maps indicating the location of jobs. For another, the Trust provides digital data on a physical hard drive at the beginning of each year. The problem was that during the course of a year, or during the contract period, changes could occur that rendered the maps and data out-of-date.

Passing on updates to the contractors was incredibly time-consuming and complicated, as different partners needed different maps and data in different formats. The Trust used to send out data updates on an ad hoc basis, but it was impractical to alert contractors to every small change. Consequently, contractors could potentially be working from mapping data that was up to twelve months out-of-date. This was far from ideal, and there was a desire to provide access to real-time data.

ArcGIS Online will enable us to inform interested parties about our network and help them understand our work

Sarah Temple-Phillips – GIS specialist at Canal & River Trust

The Solution

The Canal & River Trust already relied on ArcGIS, a geographic information system (GIS) solution from Esri, to help it plan and implement its many programmes of maintenance, conservation and development. To meet the needs of its contractors as quickly and easily as possible, it decided to utilise Esri’s ArcGIS Online solution.

In order to expedite the process of setting up ArcGIS Online, the Trust took advantage of Esri UK’s JumpStart programme. A consultant from Esri UK worked on site at the Trust, helping it to get started. He showed the GIS team how to align background mapping and passed on time-saving tips, such as how to bulk upload user details. “The JumpStart programme was extremely helpful”, recalls Sarah Temple-Phillips, GIS specialist at the Trust. “After just two days, we had set up all our maps, loaded over 60 data sets and sent out invites to 96 potential users.”

The JumpStart programme was extremely helpful. After just two days, we had set up all our maps, loaded over 60 data sets and sent out invites to 96 potential users

Sarah Temple-Phillips – GIS specialist at Canal & River Trust

The Benefits

Following the launch of the ArcGIS Online solution, contractors gained 24/7 access to up-to-date data about the canals and rivers of England and Wales. They no longer have to rely on the printed maps supplied in their ‘works packs’, or data sets supplied many months ago, which might be out-of-date. Instead, they can plan jobs based on the latest information from the Trust.

This improvement in the availability of information could ultimately help to improve health and safety for contractors. For example, bad weather may cause a landslip, making a section of towpath impassable in a vehicle. Once this change in towpath condition is recorded on the Trust’s central GIS system, it is then visible to the contractor via ArcGIS Online. Contractors can therefore amend work plans accordingly to ensure the safety of maintenance teams working in the area.

The online application is expected to reduce the amount of time spent locating sites. In the past, if contractors couldn’t find remote footbridges or properties, it could take several phone calls to obtain precise directions. Now contractors can look at ArcGIS Online to help them locate sites, without having to bother the Trust and can therefore get started on works more quickly.

ArcGIS Online will also be highly valuable to the trust during the tender process for new contracts, such as vegetation management. Potential suppliers will be able to view maps and aerial photography via the online application to assess precisely how much work is involved. “Contractors will have a better understanding of jobs and this may result in us receiving more accurate and more competitively priced quotes,” Temple-Phillips says.

The Trust is considering the viability of expanding its use of ArcGIS Online to make selected data sets available to external trustees and partners who are unable to access the internal mapping solutions. “Now that we are a registered charity, more people have an interest in what we do,” explains Temple-Phillips. “ArcGIS Online will enable us to inform interested parties about our network and help them understand our work.”

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