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Scotland’s Coastal Change Assessment

Assessing the future impact of coastal change

ArcGIS shows us not only where coastal change has occurred in Scotland over the last century, and how quickly, but where future changes will occur and which of our infrastructure assets will be at risk.

Public sector organisations can collaborate more effectively with a shared understanding of coastal change

Businesses can identify risks to their property and make well-informed decisions to protect their assets

Members of the public can better understand and prepare for coastal changes in Scotland

“ If we had been doing this project five years ago, before ArcGIS Online, we wouldn’t have been able to be as responsive to the original vision of the project and share our coastal change insight with everyone

Lachlan Renwick – GIS Services Manager, Scottish Natural Heritage

The Challenge

While Scotland is renowned for its spectacular coastal cliffs and scenic rocky coves, 19% of the country’s 21,000 km of shoreline is formed of beaches, sand dunes and saltmarshes. Government and university experts are concerned about the potential long-term implications of climate change on these soft landforms, because they are highly susceptible to erosion, as well as accretion from the build-up of sediments along the coast.

The Scottish Government recognises the importance of the likely future impacts of climate change on Scotland’s soft coastal landscapes and joined forces with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the University of Glasgow to undertake the country’s first ever National Coastal Change Assessment. However, before researchers could begin to assess future risks, they first needed to understand what changes had taken place in the last 120 years, where they had occurred and the pace at which these changes had happened.

“ Ultimately the information in DynamicCoast.com helps Scotland, its businesses and communities become more resilient to climate change

Professor Jim Hansom – Principal Researcher for Dynamic Coast, University of Glasgow

The Solution

With funding from Scotland’s Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW), researchers used Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop to analyse geo-rectified historical maps from the 1890s and 1970s alongside modern maps and LiDAR surfaces. They used over a million data points in the soft, erodible sections of the Scottish shoreline and built up a fully interactive map, enabling them to not only depict a century of coastal change, but also calculate the rate of change for every 10 metres of the soft coast. The analysis showed an increase in erosion extent of 39%, a fall in extent of accretion of 22% and a doubling of erosion rates, above historic baseline levels.

Using this evidence base, the researchers then performed sophisticated spatial analysis to identify areas likely to experience future change. They highlighted the areas of anticipated future erosion in dark red on the map and included a ten metre erosion influence area, which together includes more than 50 buildings, 5 km of roads, 2 km of railway and 2 km of water pipes that may be threatened by erosion by 2050. Over £340m of assets are at risk if erosion continues, however, in total, £13bn of assets are protected by ‘natural defences’.

Finally, the project team used Esri’s ArcGIS Online platform to share its insight into coastal erosion via an accessible web map that everyone can easily view, interrogate and understand. Called DynamicCoast.com, it enables people to browse every beach in Scotland, zoom in to view potential erosion risks at any location, using any device, whether they are at home, at work or standing on a beach. Lachlan Renwick, GIS Services Manager at Scottish Natural Heritage says, “If we had been doing this project five years ago, before ArcGIS Online, we wouldn’t have been able to be as responsive to the original vision of the project and share our coastal change insight with everyone.”

“ The GIS-led research approach we developed gives us accurate, statistical evidence and allows us to provide objective recommendations with confidence

Dr Alistair Rennie – Dynamic Coast Project Manager, Scottish Government

The Benefits

Firm evidence of climate change along Scotland’s coast
Using ArcGIS Desktop, researchers have gained tangible evidence about climate change, which they can use to make secure judgements about the future. “As scientists, we are all inherently cautious about making future predictions, yet as advisors we need to give advice to help the Scottish Government, businesses and citizens prepare for the future,” says Dr Alistair Rennie, Dynamic Coast Project Manager, Scottish Government. “The GIS-led research approach we developed gives us accurate, statistical evidence and allows us to provide objective recommendations with confidence.”

Improved resilience to climate change
By accessing DynamicCoast.com, the public and organisations can now easily find out how the continuance of past coastal changes may impact their property and assets and, as a result, make better informed decisions to reduce their longer term risks and costs. For instance, electricity suppliers can use the information to plan the installation of new electricity cables with more confidence, to avoid those areas where their condition and safety may be jeopardised by erosion or changing sea levels in the future. The University of Glasgow’s Prof. Jim Hansom, Principal Researcher for Dynamic Coast, says: “Ultimately the information in DynamicCoast.com helps Scotland, its businesses and communities become more resilient to climate change.”

Greater public awareness of coastal change
As the data is displayed on simple-to-use, interactive maps via ArcGIS Online, people with absolutely no prior experience of GIS can easily understand the implications of continued erosion and climate change on the areas of coastline where they live, work or visit. “For many climate change is a vague and distant topic, but everyone can now see for the first time, precisely how much change has happened and what the future impacts may be on the specific beaches they love,” Renwick says.

A collaborative response to the challenges of coastal change
The versatility of the ArcGIS platform, and the breadth of the analysis available, is the cornerstone of future collaboration between government bodies in Scotland and will lead to more joined-up responses to the challenges of coastal change. Organisations like SNH, SEPA, Historic Environment Scotland and Local Authorities can work more effectively together to assess the implications for threatened sites of historical and environmental interest and put strategies in place to protect and preserve them for future generations.

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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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Lambeth Council

Making Open Data available and relevant

The London Borough of Lambeth Council has become a pioneer of best practice in the publication of local government Open Data in the UK. Using ArcGIS Online and preconfigured Open Data templates, the council doesn’t just make Open Data available; it makes it relevant and useable for the widest possible range of people and organisations.

Council employees save weeks of effort each year by not having to respond to Freedom of Information and data requests

Citizens gain online access to council data in a map-based format that they can more easily understand

Third party organisations harvest Open Data in a wide choice of formats to suit their business needs

The Challenge

When the UK Government launched its Transparency Agenda and announced that data about public sector operations would be made ‘open’ to everyone, it unleashed an enormous technical challenge for local authorities. As Tom Brown, Geographic Information Manager at Lambeth Council says, “After years of funding cuts, we had no budget for additional on premise IT equipment or external IT services to enable us to create an Open Data system. We also lacked the technical expertise in-house to put in place a wide range of download options for citizens and third party organisations.”

To comply with the Local Government Transparency Code, the council initially just uploaded data sets to its website, all on separate web pages, which involved manually exporting and updating files. This process consumed a huge amount of time and didn’t necessarily result in the publication of data that was useful for citizens; a list of council expenditure that Lambeth Council had a mandatory requirement to publish only received a handful of views in two years. “We needed a better system for publishing Open Data that would be more cost effective and time efficient,” says Tom Brown. “Yet we also wanted to be able to publish the kinds of data that citizens would actually find helpful and present it to them, in context, in a range of formats that they could use.”

“ArcGIS Online has definitely helped to push us to the forefront of the Open Data movement.”

Tom Brown, Geographic Information Manager, London Borough of Lambeth Council

The Solution

Lambeth Council achieved its goals using Esri’s ArcGIS Online and pre-configured ArcGIS Online Open Data templates. As a hosted, web-based solution, ArcGIS Online requires no investment in on premise hardware, no space in the council’s data centre and no complex software configurations. Furthermore, as the council has been using Esri’s ArcGIS geographic information system (GIS) platform for many years and already has an existing ArcGIS Desktop license, it can use ArcGIS Online without any additional costs.

From the outset, Lambeth Council found it very straightforward to set up the ArcGIS Online Open Data portal and integrate it with its own website. “It is incredibly easy to add, configure and standardise metadata for each web service and I don’t have to manually export data past the council’s firewall anymore,” Brown says. “The data is also live-linked to our internal corporate data, so I don’t have to constantly update it.”

A key advantage of ArcGIS Online for Lambeth Council is that the Open Data template provides a wide range of data download options, including creating spreadsheets, integrating with multiple API codes and exporting in .kml or .shp formats. The solution also allows multiple data sets to be visualised together on the same interactive map, for the first time. These features enable Lambeth Council to cater for the data needs of a much wider range of users, from those with very low IT skills to highly experienced, technical GIS professionals.

“Lambeth Council publishes more spatial Open Data than any other local authority in the UK. But it’s not just about publishing the most. Using ArcGIS Online we can also publish our data in the best range of formats to make it useful and relevant for the widest number of people.”

Tom Brown, Geographic Information Manager, London Borough of Lambeth Council

The Benefits

Significant time savings within the council
The new ArcGIS Online Open Data portal has freed up a substantial amount of time for council employees, working across multiple departments. In the IT department, at least one day per week has been saved as employees no longer have to export, convert and dispatch map-based data files to external organisations such as council-appointed architects and companies maintaining traffic light systems; these organisations can self-serve the information they need themselves. When data on business rates was made available on the Open Data portal, the number of freedom of information requests made to the council reduced by 75%, significantly reducing administration time in that area.

Better information available to citizens
Rather than just viewing isolated lists of information, citizens can now view council data in the context of an interactive map and integrate it with other data to help them better understand the services available in their areas. Likewise, local groups, like residents associations, can easily access information about everything from local planning policy to refuse services, and display all pertinent data in the same format, on the same map, in a format they can understand. Lambeth Council’s new Open Data portal has also been used within the council’s call centre, enabling employees to respond to citizens’ enquiries quickly and knowledgeably, delivering a high quality of service.

Greater support for third party organisations
The ArcGIS Online Open Data portal has been extremely well received by third party organisations, which can now download council data in precisely the format they need, to integrate it into their own business systems. SAT NAV providers regularly stream data from the portal to improve the accuracy of their routing information, while small graphic design agencies can obtain free, easy access to map images to illustrate their reports. Lambeth Council’s Open Data will be automatically harvested by regional and national data hubs, like data.gov.uk, making it readily accessible to many more organisations, far beyond the boundaries of the borough.

Leadership in the advancement of Open Data
With more than 100 data sets already available via ArcGIS Online, the council has become one of the UK’s leading advocates of Open Data in local government. “Lambeth Council publishes more spatial Open Data than any other local authority in the UK,” says Brown. “But it’s not just about publishing the most. Using ArcGIS Online we can also publish our data in the best range of formats to make it useful and relevant for the widest number of people. ArcGIS Online has definitely helped to push us to the forefront of the Open Data movement.”

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Aster Group

Renovating an entire housing business with a simple IT upgrade

After using Esri geographic information system (GIS) solutions for over eight years, landlord and developer Aster Group decided to migrate to Esri’s Portal for ArcGIS. This upgrade has transformed the efficiency of employees across multiple departments, leading to significant improvements in customer service, supplier management and decision making.

Customers receive faster, well-informed responses to their enquiries

Employees work more efficiently and are supported on key strategic projects

Senior managers have clearer insight into information related to fire safety

The Challenge

The not-for-dividend business Aster Group is driven by the desire to ensure everyone has a home. Over the next seven years, the organisation aims to develop 10,000 new homes for sale and shared ownership, and will reinvest the profits into developing more homes for rent. It already owns and maintains over 28,000 homes across the South and South West of England and delivers services for 75,000 customers.

For over eight years, Aster Group had used Esri’s ArcGIS platform to collate, visualise and share information about all of the organisation’s homes and assets via interactive maps. This GIS had become invaluable to the business, but following a series of acquisitions and other organisational changes, Aster Group had ended up with four separate web maps, each containing different data sets. This fragmented approach sometimes made it hard for employees to find the information that they needed and prevented them from working with optimal efficiency.

“ArcGIS has been vitally important to our business for many years, but now it plays an even more critical role by providing employees with easier access to the information they need to deliver quality customer services, support key strategic projects and make informed business decisions.”

Roger Taylor, Assistant Director (Property Investment), Aster Group

The Solution

When Esri launched Portal for ArcGIS, Aster Group realised that if it migrated to this new solution, it could create a single, interactive map to support employees across all business teams. Moreover, the organisation discovered that it could accomplish this systems enhancement with no additional expenditure on software, as the cost of the upgrade to Portal for ArcGIS was included in its annual ArcGIS maintenance package.

Recognising the importance of GIS to the business, Aster Group decided to engage consultants from Esri UK for three days, to guide the migration to Portal for ArcGIS and pass on their expertise to the in-house GIS team. “The consultancy from Esri UK was really worthwhile,” says Luke Angwin, GIS Administrator at Aster Group. “We certainly wouldn’t be where we are today without that knowledge transfer.”

The upgrade to Portal for ArcGIS enabled Aster Group to replace its four legacy asset maps with a single, enterprise-wide system, containing a far more extensive range of data sets – up to 50 layers of information in total from internal and external sources. At the same time, the upgrade enabled Aster Group to deliver improved capabilities for users, such as simplified printing, more professional report generation and the ability to mark-up areas and boundaries on maps.

“As everything is contained in one map, customer service is more straightforward now. Employees don’t have to have historical knowledge of our properties to know where to look to find answers to questions.”

Luke Angwin, GIS Administrator, Aster Group

The Benefits

From what appears, on the surface, to be a relatively simple upgrade from one Esri solution to another, Aster Group has achieved some remarkable business improvements. As Roger Taylor, Assistant Director (Property Investment) at Aster Group says, “ArcGIS has been vitally important to our business for many years, but now it plays an even more critical role by providing employees with easier access to the information they need to deliver quality customer services, support key strategic projects and make informed business decisions.”

More responsive customer service
Customer service agents can now respond far more quickly to customer enquiries, such as checking if the organisation is responsible for cutting a verge in front of a house. “As everything is contained in one map, customer service is more straightforward now,” Angwin says. “Employees don’t have to have historical knowledge of our properties to know where to look to find answers to questions.”

Improved employee efficiency
Throughout the business, teams can work more efficiently, as they can perform basic GIS tasks, such as producing and printing maps for themselves. The drainage team, for example, now uses Portal for ArcGIS to mark areas, such as car parks, calculate square meterage and produce accurate request for tender documents, with maps, to send to prospective suppliers. The team no longer has to request maps from the GIS team for this purpose, which saves time and significantly accelerates the tender process for new drainage contracts.

Stronger contractor and financial management
As all of the information displayed in Portal for ArcGIS is not only up-to-date and complete, but also easy to interpret, employees can access contract maps and customer charges more effectively. The grounds maintenance team can better monitor whether contractors are meeting their contractual obligations, as contract maps can be accessed via hyperlinks embedded directly in the maps for the first time. Equally, the garages team can more easily spot discrepancies in garages classified as basic or prime, and ensure that all customers are charged appropriately for the services they receive.

Clear understanding of health and safety responsibilities
Aster Group takes its health and safety responsibilities very seriously, and through its upgrade to Portal for ArcGIS, it has been able to improve the visibility of information that is pertinent to fire safety regulations. For instance, it can now distinguish between properties that are leaseholder and freeholder, at a glance, for the first time. This distinction was particularly critical in the light of the Grenfell fire disaster, as the organisation could see instantly where it potentially had a responsibility to carry out additional fire safety checks.

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Sport Wales

Improving access to sporting facilities in Wales

Sport Wales has gained a far deeper insight into the distribution and accessibility of sports facilities in Wales thanks to a geospatial analysis plug-in developed by the University of South Wales. Based on Esri’s ArcGIS platform, the tool enables Sport Wales to provide the Welsh Government, local authorities and national sports governing bodies with clear evidence of where to invest to deliver health benefits for the widest number of people.

Non-technical users can perform sophisticated analyses of sports facilities in just five or six simple steps

Analysis results are displayed quickly, clearly and attractively in easy-to-interpret interactive maps

The use of floating catchment area models enables users to allow for different drive time scenarios

The Challenge

A key part of Sport Wales’ work is to increase further the number of people who participate in sport and physical recreation on a frequent and regular basis, to have a positive impact on the physical health and happiness of people living in Wales. Recognising that people are more likely to engage in regular sporting activities if they have access to facilities close to their homes, the organisation sought to gain a better understanding of where sports facilities are available and how many people could potentially use them.

There are a large number and diverse range of sports facilities throughout Wales, but many are aging and in need of investment at a time when public funding for service improvements is severely constrained. Sport Wales hoped to gain a clear insight into the potential future usage of sports facilities, to help local authorities and sports associations make informed decisions about which amenities to develop, in which locations, to benefit the largest number of people.

“We can perform highly nuanced analyses with ArcGIS, quickly and easily, to gain real evidence of the best places to allocate funding to benefit the largest number of people and specific sections of communities.”

Dr Jonathan Radcliffe, Senior Data and GIS Officer – Sport Wales

The Solution

The solution to this challenge was proposed and developed by Dr Mitchel Langford and Professor Gary Higgs based in the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD) at the University of South Wales. With funding from Sport Wales as part of its Illuminate scheme, the university team created a bespoke Add-In for Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop and Network Analyst solutions to calculate the geographical accessibility of sports facilities.

Critically, the solution was designed to take users with absolutely no expertise in geographic information systems (GIS) through the analysis process in a series of simple-to-follow steps, making it possible for anyone to gain a clear, accurate understanding of the potential usage of sports facilities. The Add-In draws on Sport Wales’ own ArcGIS database of sporting facilities and uses open source Ordnance Survey road network datasets that allows the organisation to perform analysis by travel distance, age, gender and socio-economic status to different types of sporting facilities for the first time.

The development of the Add-In built on the success of previous research projects at the University of South Wales that have used ArcGIS and Floating Catchment Area models to examine spatial patterns of accessibility to a wide range of public services. The use of Floating Catchment Area analysis gives Sport Wales greater flexibility in how it analyses demand for each different category of sporting facility. For example, the maximum drive time can be adjusted for each search, as appropriate, to reflect the fact that some people may be prepared to drive further to get to a swimming pool than a gym, while people in rural areas may be more accustomed to slightly longer journeys than people in cities.

“ArcGIS will help Sport Wales to ensure that sports facilities are accessible, fit-for-purpose, sustainable and in the best locations. In this way, we can play a key role in encouraging people to become more active and help to improve the health and happiness of everyone in Wales.”

Dr Jonathan Radcliffe, Senior Data and GIS Officer – Sport Wales

The Benefits

Greater insight into demand for sporting facilities
The ArcGIS-based solution will not only be used by Sport Wales, but could also be used by up to 40 separate sport governing bodies, providing all these organisations with greater insight into demand for facilities. It has, for example, been used by Welsh Gymnastics, to review the gymnastics facilities available across Wales and the range of coaching levels provided at each site. The solution revealed hot spots where the provision isn’t ideal for the local population, and this evidence can now be used to inform the introduction of new gymnastics facilities in key locations.

Improved allocation of sports funding
Significantly, Sport Wales can use the ArcGIS-based tool to advise the Welsh Government about where public sector funding should be invested in sports facilities, to deliver the greatest benefit. For instance, ArcGIS analysis has shown that although the database contains attribute data for 262 bowling greens in Wales, there is relatively poor provision in those areas of South West Wales within a 15km drive distance or 20 minute drive time for some demographic groups. “We can perform highly nuanced analyses with ArcGIS, quickly and easily, to gain real evidence of the best places to allocate funding to benefit the largest number of people and specific sections of communities,” says Dr Jonathan Radcliffe, Senior Data and GIS Officer at Sport Wales.

More collaborative approaches to long-term planning
Sports Wales anticipates that the clarity of the evidence presented in ArcGIS will help public sector bodies and private organisations collaborate more effectively on the provision of sports and recreational facilities. For instance, councils will be able to easily see where facilities exist in academies and FE colleges that could potentially be opened up to the public outside of school hours, making facilities available to the wider public. In this way, the solution strongly supports the Welsh Government’s Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, important legislation that requires organisations to work together on initiatives to improve health and other social issues.

A healthier, happier nation
Although the new ArcGIS-based tool for analysing sports facilities is still in its infancy, Radcliffe anticipates that it will have a profound impact on Sport Wales’ ability to lead the maintenance, enhancement and creation of sports facilities across Wales. “ArcGIS will help Sport Wales to ensure that sports facilities are accessible, fit-for-purpose, sustainable and in the best locations,” he says. “In this way, we can play a key role in encouraging people to become more active and help to improve the health and happiness of everyone in Wales.”

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Loch Lomond

Protecting and enhancing a spectacular natural landscape

In one of the most scenic regions of Scotland, a small organisation has accomplished a big transformation in the way that it records data in the field, using Esri’s ArcGIS Online platform and mobile GIS apps. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority can now collect better data, monitor its conservation activities more successfully and make faster interventions to protect and enhance this popular national park.

Improved customer satisfaction with 50% fewer call centre calls relating to failures in grounds maintenance

Projected cost savings of at least 10% which can be reinvested in grounds or used to lower customer charges

68% of process steps removed or automated & weeks of effort saved in new, transparent process

The Challenge

Covering an area of 720 square miles, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park comprises twenty one Munros (Scottish mountains over 3,000 feet), twenty two large lochs, two forest parks and the UK’s largest National Nature Reserve. The park authority has a responsibility to protect and conserve these outstanding natural environments, while allowing visitors to enjoy the area safely. To achieve these goals, it needs to collect a vast amount of information on everything from the locations of rare orchids to the conditions of footpaths.

Conservation specialists and park rangers used to collect data in the field on paper and then either file their notes to use in reports or input them into spreadsheets. As a consequence, the data collected in the field was inconsistent, incomplete and often inaccessible. Furthermore, the GIS team needed to spend a considerable amount of time cleaning and consolidating handwritten, printed and digital data in order to create the digital maps that the park authority needed to support its conservation planning.

“The more ArcGIS mobile apps we have developed, the more opportunities we have found to use them.”

Sally Newton, GIS Manager, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority

The Solution

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority had the inspiration to use GIS mobile apps to address its challenges when it gained free access to Esri’s ArcGIS Online solution and apps, as part of its license agreement with Esri UK for ArcGIS Desktop. “When we saw the Collector App for ArcGIS we immediately recognised the potential that it had for our organisation,” says Sally Newton, the park’s GIS manager. “We then went and talked with other organisations in Scotland that were using the app, and the tremendous results that they had already achieved really backed up our business case.”

Using ArcGIS Online, the Collector App for ArcGIS and Survey123 for ArcGIS, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority quickly created and rolled out over 12 bespoke data collection apps, for more than 30 members of staff, to support different business activities. For example, an ‘Orchid Habitats’ app allows staff to note the locations of rare orchids and complete surveys in the field to record their habitat and environment. “The more ArcGIS mobile apps we have developed, the more opportunities we have found to use them,” Newton says.

Data is entered on a variety of tablets and smartphones via dropdown boxes, making it very easy for people to collect all of the required information in a consistent format, as well as take pictures. Staff can work offline, as mobile coverage is poor in the more remote parts of the park, and upload all their data to ArcGIS Online when they reach a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Even though Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority is a relatively small organisation, with a small number of experienced GIS professionals, it has been able to develop its new apps very quickly and easily. Francis Corbett, the park authority’s GIS systems officer, says, “Once all the planning is done, and you know which survey questions need to be answered, creating the app and setting it up in ArcGIS Online can be achieved in a few hours.”

“By helping us to collect information in the field more accurately, and make it available to staff almost immediately, ArcGIS Online supports a broad range of the National Park Authority’s work including conservation, rural development and visitor experience.”

Simon Jones, Director of Conservation and Visitor Operations, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority

The Benefits

Faster interventions to preserve the park
As the data collected no longer needs to be inputted manually, with less post-processing and cleaning, the GIS team has been able to reduce the time required to create and share digital maps by as much as four weeks, for some of the mobile GIS apps introduced. Consequently, managers within the organisation have faster access to information on critical issues – such as the current whereabouts of rare species and damage to bridges and footpaths – and can make more rapid decisions about any necessary interventions. “By helping us to collect information in the field more accurately, and make it available to staff almost immediately, ArcGIS Online supports a broad range of the National Park Authority’s work including conservation, rural development and visitor experience,” says Simon Jones, Director of Conservation and Visitor Operations at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority.

Improved monitoring of conservation schemes
The use of Collector App for ArcGIS helps the park authority to more precisely monitor the spread of non-native invasive species, as employees can capture their locations on digital maps simply by walking around the footprint of the invasive plants. “We can pick up changes in the distribution and spread of invasive species far more accurately with our mobile GIS apps,” says Newton. “We can also monitor the effectiveness of different types of treatment more closely, over time, which helps us to achieve targets for the reduction of invasive species.”

More cost-efficient park maintenance programmes
Now that the park authority is able to collect better information about the condition of footpaths, footbridges, signs and information boards around the park, it is beginning to put new processes in place that will, in the future, improve the cost efficiency of its maintenance programmes. Staff will be able to prioritise urgent repair requests and simultaneously identify other less-urgent maintenance tasks in the same vicinity, to undertake multiple nearby jobs on the same visit. As Newton says, “One of the park authority’s biggest costs is staff time, so if we can reduce repeat trips to remote areas, we can increase efficiency and reduce the number of vehicle jourmeys.”

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Flagship Housing

Cultivating greater customer satisfaction with effective grounds maintenance

As part of a bold strategy to in-source its grounds maintenance activities for over 22,000 homes, Flagship Group developed a fully integrated and automated grounds maintenance management system based on Esri’s ArcGIS platform. The initiative resulted in greater customer satisfaction, created significant internal efficiency gains and paved the way for an innovative new business venture.

Improved customer satisfaction with 50% fewer call centre calls relating to failures in grounds maintenance

Projected cost savings of at least 10% which can be reinvested in grounds or used to lower customer charges

68% of process steps removed or automated & weeks of effort saved in new, transparent process

The Challenge

With around 22,500 properties, Flagship Group is the largest housing association in the East of England, comprising Flagship Homes and repairs and maintenance company RFT Services. Since its inception, the organisation had relied on two or more subcontractors to carry out its grounds maintenance tasks, including mowing lawns, weeding driveways, trimming hedges and maintaining shrub beds. However, Flagship had little or no visibility of when and whether specific tasks were taking place and which areas were being routinely maintained. This lack of transparency hampered Flagship’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to customer queries relating to grounds maintenance.

Committed to delivering the highest possible quality of customer service, Flagship made the strategic decision to bring its grounds maintenance activities in-house, by expanding the remit of RFT Services and creating a new digital, integrated process for planning, implementing and managing the entire process. The immediate priority was to create a centralised source of accurate, up-to-date information on all aspects of the grounds maintenance service and make it accessible to employees across multiple departments.

“Getting it right for our customers is what matters most to us at Flagship – and ArcGIS is enabling us to do exactly that.”

Morgan Manricks – IT Business Intelligence Manager, Flagship Group

The Solution

Having recently acquired Esri’s ArcGIS Enterprise solution from Esri UK, Flagship Group set about developing a customised grounds maintenance solution, based on ArcGIS Server. The organisation was able to very easily integrate ArcGIS with its existing Microsoft Windows 365 applications, Microsoft SQL Server and bespoke intranet platform to create a fully integrated and automated enterprise system.

The ArcGIS-based grounds maintenance solution was launched on the day that the supplier contracts terminated and, from the outset, it transformed the grounds maintenance process, providing complete transparency into all aspects of the service. “Now, we don’t just have a picture of a strip of grass that needs to be cut; we can click on the map to immediately see when it was last cut, when its next cut is due, what it costs to cut and which customers pay for it,” says Abi Tassie, GIS Developer at Flagship Group.

Up to 180 employees have instant access to the interactive grounds maintenance map while in the office and PDF map booklets (derived from ArcGIS) while in the field. Grounds maintenance operatives use the solution to see which areas are (and are not) owned by Flagship and when they need to attend each site. The Field Management Team uses the solution to plan visits, reduce drive times and increase productivity. The Finance Team accesses cost information via automated reports, embedded within the interactive map, to calculate the grounds maintenance charge per property. Meanwhile, call handlers and housing officers access the system to resolve queries at point-of-contact, for example, when lawns will be mown or what is included in service charges.

“If we had not deployed ArcGIS before in-sourcing our grounds maintenance, I’d hate to think how much time and money we would have wasted.”

Matt Brazier, Director of IT, Flagship Group

The Benefits

A tangible uplift in the customer experience
Since in-sourcing its grounds maintenance activities, Flagship has been able to provide better information to customers and provide a more effective service across its 22,500 properties. Indeed, since bringing the service in-house, Flagship now receive 50% fewer calls into its contact centre relating to failures in the grounds maintenance service, while at the same time it has been delighted to receive dozens of unprompted calls from happy customers, praising the improvements to the service. “Getting it right for our customers is what matters most to us at Flagship – and ArcGIS is enabling us to do exactly that,” says Morgan Manricks, IT Business Intelligence Manager at Flagship.

10% reduction in grounds maintenance costs
Flagship has projected an annual reduction of expenditure on grounds maintenance of at least 10% by bringing the service in-house. This cost saving not only endorses the organisation’s decision to implement such wide-ranging changes in its approach to grounds maintenance, but also gives it the opportunity to improve the quality of its service.

Significant time savings from process automation
In the development of the ArcGIS-based solution for grounds maintenance, Flagship Group either removed or automated 68% of individual steps creating a far more efficient and streamlined process. The service charges team, for instance, now saves many weeks of effort every year, as it can fairly allocate grounds maintenance costs to the right customers automatically. “Having great people, using great software with great data makes life a lot easier,” says Matt Brazier, Director of IT at Flagship Group. “If we had not deployed ArcGIS before in-sourcing our grounds maintenance, I’d hate to think how much time and money we would have wasted.”

A platform for business innovation
Such has been the success of Flagship’s in-house grounds maintenance service that the business is now considering tendering for other contracts for grounds maintenance work from other organisations in its region. Tassie says, “Our automated approach based on ArcGIS allows us to do more things in the time we have available. It therefore allows us to consider innovative new business ventures that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.”

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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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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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