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Digital Transformation for Government

Digital Transformation for Government

The Science of Where Data makes Government Smarter

Modern Government aspires to make the most of its data, to enable agile, effective and cost effective decision making. Government needs simple and engaging ways to exchange information with staff, citizens and the supply chain.

At Esri we build the world’s most powerful mapping and spatial analytics software, enabling government to visualise the physical world and business data together, share and collaborate with colleagues and partners, Equip and manage mobile workers and to design and plan the places of the future.

All of this, using out-of-the-box, rapidly deployable secure solutions that are low cost and provide a significant return on investment.

Explore how Esri GIS is used by government to reduce costs, inform policy, attract investment and optimise citizen services, with examples from:

Westminster City Council | Norfolk County Council | Sport Wales | London Borough of Lambeth | Cabinet Office | South Ayrshire Council | Cornwall Council | Environment Agency | Crossrail | Greater London Authority | Transport for London | Transport Infrastructure Ireland

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4site

Accelerating the delivery of next generation fibre networks

Engineering firm, 4site has reduced the time required to survey fibre networks in the field by 50% and improved the quality of its data using Esri’s ArcGIS platform. The company can now design smarter networks to reduce costs for its telecoms industry clients and support the faster roll-out of next generation fibre networks.

Mobile teams can complete network audits and capture data in the field 50% more quickly

Planners can produce designs for new fibre network installations with a 25% faster turnaround

Telecoms clients can make savings of up to 20% during the build phase, due to more accurate data

“ 4site has reduced its turn-around time for designing new fibre networks by around 25%

Niall Looney – Operations Director, 4site

The Challenge

When telecoms companies roll out new fibre communications networks, the success and long-term profitability of the venture can hinge on the quality of the data collected at the very outset. For, if the data is incomplete or out of date, unforeseen issues can emerge that increase costs during the build phase and impede the efficient operation of the network for years to come.

The traditional approach for collecting data to inform the installation of new fibre networks was a highly manual one, fraught with the potential for errors. Surveyors typically used printed maps, note pads, laptops and cameras to conduct surveys in the field up to three days a week and then spent around two days in the office transferring their findings to spreadsheets. The engineering solutions company 4site identified an opportunity to streamline this survey process to not only improve the accuracy of the data collected, but also shorten the time required to share it.

“ 4site’s clients could reduce their build costs by up to 20%, which, depending on the infrastructure profile, could result in savings of millions of Euros

Niall Looney – Operations Director, 4site

The Solution

After evaluating a number of possible geographic information system (GIS) solutions, 4site selected Esri’s ArcGIS platform, including Collector App for ArcGIS, as the foundation for a customised survey app and process. “The real power of ArcGIS is that you can adapt it,” says Niall Looney, Operations Director at 4site. “We were able to use products from the ArcGIS platform to develop a GIS-led survey workflow called 4Survey that we believe is the first of its kind in the fibre deployment industry.”

Now, 4site’s mobile teams use smartphones and ipads to view, query and collect data in the field pertaining to existing and planned fibre networks. The 4Survey app allows them to complete audits guided by pre-set drop-down boxes, verify existing network features, take and upload images, validate network maps and add new information points with attributes.

All of the information collected in the field using the ArcGIS mobile app is transferred digitally back to 4site’s planners in the company’s Fibre Centre for Excellence in Limerick, Ireland, in what is a completely paperless process. The planners can see survey data as soon as it becomes available and start designing new networks instantly. In the first six months following its introduction, 4Survey was used to provide survey, design and planning services for the roll out of fibre to more than 100,000 homes and businesses.

“ 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

50% reduction in survey time
Using its ArcGIS survey app and workflow, 4site can now complete fibre network surveys for its clients 50% more quickly than before and, therefore, offer a highly efficient survey service for its telecommunications industry clients. Field-based surveyors work significantly more productively in the field, as they can perform all their required tasks using just one device and no longer have to return to the office to type up reports or manually link images to audits.

Faster delivery of next generation fibre networks
Because 4site’s planners receive complete, accurate survey data direct to their desktops, the instant it is collected, they can now complete the planning and design phase for new fibre installations much more quickly. “4site has reduced its turnaround time for designing new fibre networks by around 25%,” estimates Looney. “This means that we can help our clients to reduce their time to market and help them deliver next generation fibre networks to homes and businesses more quickly.”

Significant cost savings in build phase
The improved accuracy of the survey data collected is expected to result in significant cost savings for 4site’s clients during the build phase. Fewer unexpected issues will occur as a result of incorrect information, reducing the need for last minute design changes, expensive work-arounds and repeat site visits. According to Looney, “4site’s clients could reduce their build costs by up to 20%, which, depending on the infrastructure profile, could result in savings of millions of Euros.”

Improved profitability for telecoms operators
With the higher quality of data that is now collected during the new 4Survey process, 4site can work with its clients to design smarter fibre networks that will optimise future revenues and reduce ongoing maintenance costs. For example, networks can be planned to maximise the potential of clusters and ensure the network extends to as many potential customers as possible. “We can verify the areas that are seemingly unviable at an earlier stage and develop solutions to make them viable as part of the core fibre roll out,” explains Looney.

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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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Greater London Authority

Meeting the needs of 10.5 million Londoners

The Greater London Authority (GLA) is pioneering a new, more collaborative approach to infrastructure planning to guide the long-term growth of the capital. Using Esri’s ArcGIS platform, it has developed an inventive web app that will help public and private sector organisations make better investment decisions and deliver the right infrastructure to meet the needs of over 10.5 million Londoners by 2041.

Time and cost savings for private and public organisations, as they can collaborate more effectively on joint works

Reduced road disruption leading to happier Londoners and an estimated cost saving of £4 million

Accelerated home building with utility infrastructure delivered ahead of demand

The Challenge

Based on an analysis conducted by the GLA, the number of people living in London is expected to grow by almost 2 million between 2018 and 2041, placing a significant added strain on the city’s core water, energy and transportation infrastructure. Indeed, the city will require sizeable capacity increases across its infrastructure networks, including public transport, electricity, waste processing, digital communications, recycling and other services to support the building of 66,000 new homes per year.

Recognising the need for considerable long-term investment in infrastructure in the city, London City Hall launched a new coordinated approach to infrastructure planning, called The London Infrastructure Plan 2050. The former Mayor then convened an Infrastructure Delivery Board, comprising top leaders from London’s water, energy and transport providers, as well as London borough councils, central government departments, engineers, developers and advisors. Very quickly it became clear that these infrastructure providers needed an effective way to share their long term business plans and gain better information to help them coordinate their delivery of infrastructure schemes.

“We believe that use of our ArcGIS app can encourage utilities to invest ahead of demand and therefore support the delivery of the Mayor’s housing targets.”

Molly Strauss, Senior Policy and Programme Officer, Greater London Authority

The Solution

The GLA is a long-standing user of geographic information system (GIS) solutions from Esri UK. Using Esri’s ArcGIS Online and the Esri JavaScript API, the organisation built a prototype app for infrastructure planning in London, known as the GLA Infrastructure Mapping Application (IMA), with support from Esri UK’s Professional Services team. The GLA continued to refine and build on the solution over several months and then, on 1st August 2017, it launched Version 2.0, a more sophisticated and user-friendly solution.

The app brings together future investment data on everything from new housing and schools to sewerage and rail services, and shows it alongside relevant contextual data on population growth and, increasingly, capacity requirements. As a result, users can easily see where infrastructure and development is planned—to help them identify opportunities for coordination and evaluate where additional infrastructure investment is needed—in a highly visual map-based format. The app is available in two versions: one limited to infrastructure providers and the public sector, and another for members of the public.

Molly Strauss, Senior Policy and Programme Officer at GLA, says, “Our Infrastructure Mapping Application represents a major step forward in integrating disparate data sets from industry and the public sector in London. In the first four months alone, the app generated nearly 9,000 page views.”

“Were our ArcGIS-based app to reduce road congestion from planned works on the TfL network by just 1% over one year, the GLA has estimated that the cost savings due to avoiding delay would be in excess of £4 million”

Molly Strauss, Senior Policy and Programme Officer, Greater London Authority

The Benefits

Time and cost efficiencies from joined-up project delivery
The GLA anticipates that the private and public sector organisations involved in delivering new infrastructure in London will make time and costs efficiencies, in the medium and long term, through more joined-up project planning. For instance, a water utility can see where and when a new rail tunnel is being dug – many years in advance – and potentially plan to upgrade a nearby water main in conjunction, generating cost savings. Similarly, gas and electricity providers can see if they are making infrastructure improvements in the same area, in a similar time period, and make plans to share labour and materials to reduce costs.

Reduced road disruption and associated costs
Using the GLA IMA, organisations can collaborate more closely to minimise road disruption for Londoners. For instance, two utility companies can better coordinate the timing of works so that they both operate on the same street at the same time, reducing the need for repeat road closures. This is not only good news for Londoners; it also leads to significant cost savings, as Strauss explains. “Were our ArcGIS-based app to reduce road congestion from planned works on the TfL network by just 1% over one year, the GLA has estimated that the cost savings due to avoiding delay would be in excess of £4 million.”

The right investments, ahead of demand
For the first time, utilities and transportation providers in London can easily see the locations of planned new housing, public sector and commercial developments and make the informed investment plans to ensure that the necessary services are ready before they are needed. For example, a water utility can see if large-scale growth is expected in an area where there is limited capacity in its water drainage network and plan appropriately to extend it. “We believe that use of our ArcGIS app can encourage utilities to invest ahead of demand and therefore support the delivery of the Mayor’s housing targets,” Strauss says.

Better outcomes for Londoners
Finally, the use of the GLA IMA contributes greatly to better long-term decision making in London. The public sector, utilities, transportation providers, developers and engineers are able to plan ahead based on improved knowledge of population growth, housing developments, new schools, existing infrastructure constraints and planned infrastructure investments. “The result of all of this is better outcomes for Londoners,” Strauss says. “With the development of our ArcGIS app, we are helping the public and private sector to work together more effectively to help create the necessary infrastructure for the new homes, jobs and services that Londoners need.”

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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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