Tag Archives: Case Study

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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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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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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Aylesbury Vale District Council

Transforming citizen engagement by shifting to digital channels

After reviewing its current reporting system, used by residents to report issues and concerns, Aylesbury Vale District Council utilised Esri UK’s professional services expertise to create a new and improved online reporting model. Not only delivering a better service to its citizens but also making vital resource and cost savings.

More efficient reporting of problems – fewer queries, errors and wasted trips

Improved service to residents – easier online reporting and faster resolution of problems

Reduced contact volumes – by avoiding duplicate reporting and minimising clarifications

The Challenge

Engagement with residents to maintain and improve their quality of life is a critical aspect of Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC)’s work. ReportIT is a mechanism by which issues or problems can be reported by residents, for action by the council. The system covers a broad range of concerns, from abandoned vehicles and antisocial behaviour to fly tipping and the safety of young people.

This important activity was found to be labour-intensive and potentially error-prone. The review of ReportIT identified several factors contributing to inefficiencies:
Reported problems often lie outside the council’s jurisdiction. Residents can be unaware of council structures and responsibilities, so would raise concerns to AVDC that were actually the responsibility of a different council.
Problems were being reported multiple times. Residents had no indication whether a problem has already been reported, so it would be reported again, causing duplication of effort.
Contractors resolving problems often attended the wrong location or needed to visit the site repeatedly, leading to wasted time and cost. This was because the reporting form did not capture all the information, including precise location, needed for first time resolution.
Residents like to be kept informed, but provision of regular updates was time consuming.

As part of its transformation journey, AVDC is adopting a ‘New Business Model’ which will remove such inefficiencies. The council identified that by shifting the primary contact channel to a new online reporting system it could:
1. Reduce the number of inbound contacts.
2. Reduce the cost of processing each report.
3. Improve feedback to residents.

AVDC had a suitable technology platform – ArcGIS Online from Esri, but cuts had meant that it did not have the resources to create the new solution. Furthermore, cost savings were needed quickly, so time was of the essence.

“ The new ReportIT solution has significantly improved the quality of information we are able to obtain on the initial contact enabling us to make improvements in our handling time for each individual report

Debbie White – Interim Customer Relationship Team Manager, Aylesbury Vale District Council

The Solution

The council contracted an Embedded Product Specialist (EPS) from Esri UK, chosen for their deep knowledge of the capabilities of ArcGIS Online. The EPS used standard templates to quickly create two vital applications:

1. Reporting tool. Esri UK’s QuestionWhere Builder enables a questionnaire or survey to be built around location-based questions. The EPS used QuestionWhere Builder to create a suite of forms, one for each type of problem being reported. A built-in map ensures that the location of the problem is correctly identified and that the problem falls within the regional boundaries of AVDC. Each report includes all the information a contractor needs to resolve the problem.

2. Analysis dashboard. AVDC’s communities and customer services teams needed a simple, visual way to monitor activity and identify any problems needing action. The EPS created a map-based visualisation that enabled the teams to query by boundary area, class of report and thus identify patterns and resolve issues.

Rather than write an exhaustive specification, the EPS used rapid prototyping techniques to create demonstration versions that gave AVDC a quick view of what was possible. The council provided immediate feedback to the EPS who, based in the council’s offices, implemented any changes there and then. This iterative approach kept the project on track and shortened development timescales.
The EPS also trained key IT staff from AVDC to use the tools, create new reports, edit existing reports, and maintain and develop the solution going forward. The whole project was completed in just five days.

“ Having the Esri UK EPS on site meant that we could try out different approaches and rapidly iterate the solution. The new ReportIT tool is already having an impact on our operations and thanks to the training from the EPS, we now have the capability to adapt our solution as needs change in the future

Debbie White – Interim Customer Relationship Team Manager, Aylesbury Vale District Council

The Benefits

Speed
The EPS helped AVDC rapidly assimilate the latest technology. Reporting and resolution processes are now smoother and faster as there are fewer queries, errors and wasted trips.

Flexibility
The council’s requirements are sure to evolve over time and it is well equipped to change the functionality of the solution as needed in the future. Yet AVDC is not dependent on permanent IT resources for ongoing development and support.

Improved service to residents
Residents can now report problems and track progress at a time of their own choosing. Their concerns and problems are now resolved by AVDC more quickly and with minimum need for discussion.

Reduction in contact volumes
The map-based tool helps residents report correctly – so that AVDC does not have to process reports that are outside its jurisdiction. Costly duplicate reporting is avoided and further questions and clarifications are minimised.

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National Trust

Stemming the decline in Britain’s biodiversity

One of the largest landowners in the UK, the National Trust is now playing a vital role in helping to stem the decline in Britain’s biodiversity. It is using Esri’s ArcGIS platform to identify threatened habitats on its land, implement conservation schemes and monitor the success of wide-ranging initiatives to create thriving natural environments.

High-nature habitats around the country in National Trust care are protected, improved and enlarged

Bog mosses, which make peat, are beginning to recover in degraded bogs in the Peak District

Coastal habitats will be restored so that they are better able to accommodate rising sea-levels

The Challenge

A staggering 60% of species in the UK have decreased in number over the last 50 years, and many native plants, birds and animals are at serious risk of becoming endangered.  With an estate of over 250,000 hectares in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the National Trust wanted to play a greater role in protecting and nurturing biodiversity in the UK.

As part of a new strategy, called ‘Playing Our Part’, the organisation set out to implement new approaches to land management to help restore wildlife.  However, it didn’t have a comprehensive database of the many habitat types in its historic properties, monuments, countryside and coastal areas, in one centralised location.  “We were engaged in managing a number of particularly important wildlife sites, with a high nature value, but didn’t have a complete picture of the biodiversity across all our land and water, all around the country,” explains Huw Davies, Head of Conservation Information at the National Trust.

“ For the first time in its 120-year history, the National Trust now has a single, centralised source of information about habitats on its land, which it can use to plan, prioritise, implement and monitor wildlife conservation schemes

Huw Davies – Head of Conservation Information, the National Trust

The Solution

Using Esri’s ArcGIS Server solution, the National Trust pulled together habitats data from surveys undertaken at specific properties, and at regional-level, over the previous 30 years. “For the first time in its 120-year history, the National Trust now has a single, centralised source of information about habitats on its land, which it can use to plan, prioritise, implement and monitor wildlife conservation schemes,” Davies says.

GIS specialists at the National Trust analyse the data in the habitats database, using Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop solution, and identify the best opportunities to make habitats bigger, better and more joined up. The trust can identify opportunities for habitat enhancement and enlargement, working in partnership with other landowners beyond the trust’s boundaries.

Furthermore, National Trust is now beginning to use Esri’s Collector App for ArcGIS to verify, expand and enhance its centralised habitats database. Rangers working on the land can collect habitat and biodiversity data in the field on smartphones, to monitor the evolving condition of land, water quality and habitats. All data collected in the field is synchronised with ArcGIS Server, giving the National Trust what Davies describes as “the view from the ground” and constantly putting better information back into the trust’s central systems.

“ ArcGIS is a pivotal tool that is helping the National Trust to identify priority habitats and then intervene appropriately to enrich and extend the biodiversity of its land

Huw Davies – Head of Conservation Information, the National Trust

The Benefits

Firm evidence for prioritising conservation schemes
The new centralised habitats database gives the National Trust a firm evidence base for identifying, planning and prioritising conservation schemes. “ArcGIS is a pivotal tool that is helping the National Trust to identify priority habitats and then intervene appropriately to enrich and extend the biodiversity of its land,” Davies says. “It helps us understand where the best opportunities for nature are, so we can focus our resources in the right locations and work with partners to achieve the most positive impact on the natural environment.”

Improved implementation and monitoring of projects
ArcGIS also plays a key role during the implementation of habitat restoration programmes and in monitoring the success of the trust’s interventions. For instance, in the large tracts of degraded Blanket Bog and Upland Heathlands in the Peak District, the National Trust is using ArcGIS at the desktop and in the field to locate and block damaging drainage channels and conduct vegetation surveys. This is a particularly significant project because the organisation is responsible for 28% of England’s entire priority habitats in the uplands, and the bog mosses that decompose to make the carbon sink that is peat, are beginning to recover as a direct result.

Greater understanding of long-term threats to biodiversity
By using ArcGIS to perform detailed habitats analysis, the National Trust is gaining a far greater understanding of factors like land-use and climate change that may pose a serious, long-term risk for threatened species. For instance, the National Trust has modelled the impact of higher sea levels on its 775 miles of coastline using ArcGIS. It is now applying the intelligence it has gained to identify high-nature coastal habitats that may become changed, understand the implications for species and assess opportunities for coastal habitats to move inland.

New ways to encourage support and communicate success
In the future, the National Trust plans to make use of Esri’s ArcGIS Online to create engaging Story Maps to help it educate the general public about the threats to biodiversity and the vital importance of its conservation activities. Davies says, “Should we need to set up an appeal to help fund a scheme to protect a particular habitat type or wildlife area, we will be able to use the power of ArcGIS Online and Story Maps to do that. We will also be able to create Story Maps to demonstrate the success of our current initiatives and publicise the great work that the National Trust is doing to improve the fate of the UK’s amazing nature.”

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Environment Agency

Tackling river pollution in Herefordshire

Tasked with reducing river pollution, the Environment Agency needs to identify the individual fields that are responsible for dispelling soil, fertiliser and nutrients into rivers, within catchment areas covering hundreds of square kilometres. Using ArcGIS, it can now pinpoint high risk locations more quickly, collect evidence via smartphones and operate more efficiently to help improve river water quality.

Search area for potential soil run-off reduced by 96% from 140 km2 to 5.6 km2

Number of inspections possible per day, per officer, increased from one or two to as many as ten

Faster interventions and projects with farmers, improving river quality

The Challenge

Rivers are the healthiest they have been for over 20 years, but there is still more to do. That includes tackling river pollution, which is a key factor when it comes to improving water quality for the Environment Agency. One of the most commonly occurring causes of river pollution is the run-off of soil, fertilisers and nutrients from agricultural land. Indeed, in Herefordshire where soils are generally light in composition, 48% of rivers that fail to achieve ‘good’ ecological status under the EU’s Water Framework Directive are contaminated by soil and soil-based nutrients.

The Environment Agency has the resources to work with farmers to help them understand and address the problem, as well as the authority to penalise farmers who continue to cause pollution to nearby rivers. The challenge is identifying precisely which fields the soil and nutrients come from, in a potential catchment area of hundreds of square kilometres. Previously, environment officers only had past intelligence to help them identify places across Herefordshire that might pose water quality concerns. During heavy rainfall they would visit these areas for signs of soil run-off, at the same time looking out for visible signs which could indicate new areas of concern, but the fields that cause soil pollution are rarely accessible by vehicle and, depending on land gradients, may be some distance away from the rivers they contaminate.

“ Rather than having to hunt for potential sources of pollutants across the entire trial area of 140 km2, we could see that just 4% of the catchment posed a possible threat

David Throup – Area Environment Manager for Herefordshire and Worcestershire, the Environment Agency

The Solution

In what has proven to be a highly successful trial in Herefordshire, the Environment Agency is now using Esri’s ArcGIS platform to analyse river catchment areas and identify agricultural fields that are likely to pose a high risk to water quality. It combines Sentinel satellite data and vegetation data to identify ‘brown’ ploughed fields that are more susceptible to soil loss, then adds LIDAR data, showing land gradients of 6% and above, to hone in precisely on those cultivated fields that are steeply sloped towards the river.

This analysis, performed in Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop solution, is uploaded to Esri’s cloud-based ArcGIS Online, where it is visible to all Environment Agency employees. Specialist environment officers then use Esri’s Collector App for ArcGIS on smart phones and tablets to find and survey the ‘high risk’ locations during heavy rainfall, which allows them to collect evidence in the field and upload it directly to the cloud in real-time.

“ We will be able to see how changes in land use have a changing impact on river pollution, year after year, and use this insight to plan future river conservation programmes

James Barnes – GIS Manager, the Environment Agency

The Benefits

Rapid identification of potential risks
Using ArcGIS, the Environment Agency can now identify potential river pollution risks with far greater precision. “Rather than having to hunt for potential sources of pollutants across the entire trial area of 140 km2, we could see that just 4% of the catchment posed a possible threat,” says David Throup, Area Environment Manager for Herefordshire and Worcestershire. “In this case, 4% corresponded to just 50 fields, so we could focus our attention on inspecting these specific locations.”

Improved efficiency in the field
Environment officers are now not only more targeted in their approach, but are also able to work far more efficiently due to the use of Collector App. “Previously, environment officers would probably have gone out on a rainy day, looked at one or two locations, that may or may not have been causing a problem, and then come back to the office to write up their report,” explains Throup. “Now, they might inspect around 10 locations and upload all the data while in the field. It’s quicker and more relevant.”

Real-time resource allocation
When environment officers are dispatched to conduct inspections during heavy rainfall, employees back at the office can use ArcGIS to track their progress and review the data collected as soon as it is uploaded. Managers can then make instant decisions to direct the officers to different fields, based on the evidence that they or their colleagues are gathering. As Throup explains, this use of mobile and cloud-based GIS allows the Environment Agency to “make the most of heavy rainfall events to gather the most evidence with a small team.”

More effective river conservation
Now, the Environment Agency is able to find problems quickly, engage in more conversations with farmers about river pollution and enforce regulatory controls where necessary. “Over time, I am sure that our use of ArcGIS will result in less soil going into Herefordshire’s rivers,” Throup says. “Since the trial began, there have been a number of successful interventions that have resulted in farmers changing their farming practices to reduce soil run-off.”

Better long-term conservation planning
Over time, the Environment Agency expects to be able to gain more and more insight by collecting and analysing information in ArcGIS to build up a picture of high risk locations and high risk activities. GIS Manager James Barnes, who helped develop the solution says, “We will be able to see how changes in land use have a changing impact on river pollution, year after year, and use this insight to plan future river conservation programmes.”

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