Joining up the business with GIS
Having recognised that 90% of its business data was geographical, GreenSquare Group made the decision to deploy Esri’s ArcGIS platform to consolidate and visualise information throughout its entire organisation. The benefits achieved span simple operational, cost-saving gains to supporting major strategic decisions such as identifying significant new opportunities to expand its housing portfolio.
GreenSquare Group is a major provider of housing, regeneration, care and support and commercial services across Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. Managing 10,000 properties for social and affordable rent, and offering homes for sale, the group also works with Kevin McCloud’s company Hab on innovative eco-housing projects.
GIS analysis has revealed several new sites for development, for which the potential land value is approximately £2 million
Employees can perform feasibility studies for new developments in just two days, eight days more quickly than beforehand
Maintenance activities are planned more strategically by location, to help improve cost efficiencies across the business
GreenSquare had a long-term vision for GIS that would positively impact the whole organisation. It wanted to use the technology to join together all departments and deliver benefits across the business, in areas such as development and regeneration, disposals, welfare reform, rent arrears, anti-social behaviour, tenant profiling and maintenance.
“To deliver our long-term strategy we wanted a more powerful GIS, one that was proven in the industry and at the right price,” explained Dawn Francis, Group GIS Manager at GreenSquare. “Part of the GIS vision was that around 90% of data within the group was geographical and should be mapped. This holistic approach to using our data more intelligently would allow us to be more strategic in how we operated.”
GreenSquare’s board members are also keen to support innovative ways to improve the business or overcome new challenges and were enthusiastic to see how GIS could help.
Esri was the clear winner on all fronts. ArcGIS could work with any type of data, the company had an extensive user community plus the price was highly competitive
Dawn Francis – Group GIS Manager, GreenSquare Group
Following an in-depth tender process, GreenSquare selected Esri UK’s ArcGIS as its new GIS platform. “Esri was the clear winner on all fronts,” commented Dawn. “ArcGIS could work with any type of data, the company had an extensive user community plus the price was highly competitive.”
In order to get the most out of the new GIS, GreenSquare first spent around five months data cleansing their information. This involved re-evaluating all geo-codes for 3,000 flats and dispersing the markers so it could see each individual property within multi-storey blocks. “To function strategically, we first needed to disperse the markers to achieve a more granular view of all our properties and see the attribute data linked to each flat,” said Dawn.
Coming from a Business Intelligence background, Dawn had a valuable insight into the type of business reports that could be visualised within the GIS. By applying this expertise, GreenSquare has been able to deliver new levels of location intelligence across the company.
Esri’s GIS has linked disparate business units, allowing for a better co-ordination of how we do business. The benefits achieved span simple operational gains to supporting major strategic decisions
Dawn Francis – Group GIS Manager, GreenSquare Group
The main benefit for GreenSquare has come from bringing together disparate types of information in the GIS and visualising them in one place. “Being able to toggle between multiple data streams on the same map has opened up endless opportunities to interrogate the data and spot new insights,” said Dawn.
GIS is already helping drive the development pipeline, which has a target of building 30 new units a year on existing land under its ownership. By overlaying property types, access routes, who owns what land, where demand for housing is and many other factors needed for an initial investigation, GreenSquare has been able to reveal several new sites for development. So far, the potential value of this land is approximately £2m.
“Using the GIS we can switch different types of information on and off, to ask questions relating to a location, arriving at a decision about its suitability for development, conversion or regeneration,” said Dawn. “Efficiently evaluating and unlocking development land will lead to additional income from new homes for sale and rent from land holdings.” commented Dawn. “This was previously labour intensive using spreadsheets or disparate maps. To operate strategically you have to bring your data to life with interactive maps.”
Major efficiency gains are also being achieved via the new GIS. Feasibility studies for new development sites which used to take 10 days have been cut to two days, while the property disposal process has been reduced from four days per month to around three hours. “The GIS has removed a lot of site visits, physical meetings and manual hard copy processes,” added Dawn. “All the necessary information is available online in the GIS and is being used by all staff, right up to the board.”
The GIS is also making it easier to manage maintenance more efficiently. In the past, planned maintenance programmes were scheduled according to alphabetical road order. But this meant homes in streets nearby might have had work done months apart, when it made more sense to carry out the work at the same time. Now maintenance schedules can be seen on a map and planned in the GIS, allowing better allocation of resources.
Future plans at GreenSquare include the introduction of real-time maintenance scheduling via mobile GIS on handheld devices, to minimise mileage and maximise efficiencies. Some GIS services will also become external so tenants can go online and find information for themselves to enhance customer service.
“Esri’s GIS has linked disparate business units, allowing for a better co-ordination of how we do business,” concluded Dawn. “The benefits achieved span simple operational gains to supporting major strategic decisions. By using location information in an intelligent way, GreenSquare is driving new revenue streams and injecting new levels of operational efficiency into the business.”