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Costain

Building competitive advantage with enterprise GIS

The engineering solutions company Costain started out with just a single licence for Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop solution. Now, ArcGIS is a pivotal, enterprise system that is increasing employees’ productivity, improving client services and giving the company a strong competitive advantage.

Road inspectors complete 60% more surveys in a week using ArcGIS mobile solutions

An environment team saves around 18 hours a week with an ArcGIS web app

Contact centre staff respond promptly to maintenance requests using ArcGIS Enterprise

The Challenge

For many years, geographic information system (GIS) technology was little used at Costain. The company had a single licence for Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop application and, from time to time, it used subcontractors to create stand-alone GIS applications for specific projects. “We had different approaches for different contracts, with GIS services being commissioned for some and not others,” says Orla McManus, Head of GIS for New Business, at Costain.

As demand for GIS solutions increased, the use of subcontractors became a significant cost for the business. Furthermore, as each GIS application developed had a limited scope, defined by the needs of a specific project, the benefits of using GIS were constrained. Costain therefore decided to expand its use of Esri’s ArcGIS platform internally and use it as a strategic tool to help it deliver industry-leading, technology-driven engineering solutions.

“ Our extended use of ArcGIS puts us in a stronger position to win new business and deliver exceptional service for our clients in some of the UK’s biggest engineering projects

Orla McManus – Head of GIS – New Business, Costain

The Solution

Costain deployed ArcGIS Enterprise to create a single portal for geospatial information, for the entire organisation, hosted in its UK datacentres. It then developed a series of ArcGIS mobile apps and ArcGIS web apps to provide specific groups of employees with the capabilities they need to access data pertinent to their contracts and perform their jobs.

ArcGIS is currently used by groups of Costain employees including:
– Roads inspectors for managing 150,000 assets on a seven year highways and road maintenance contract
– Environmental teams for carrying out ecology, tree and archaeology surveys along a transportation route
– Contact centre staff for responding to telephone queries, noting asset defects and passing on information to maintenance teams

Costain has also created a ‘Costain on a map’ app to provide all employees with a gateway to the company’s growing reservoirs of geospatial data, as well as other systems, such as HR and Building Information Modelling (BIM). “Today, GIS has overtaken BIM in terms of uptake within the business and has very much become our go-to tool for information,” says Sophie Stouki, Head of GIS for Operations, at Costain.

“The ability of ArcGIS to collate data from many internal and third party sources and make it available to lots of people via a web browser is really powerful,” Stouki adds. “Employees don’t need advanced data skills or training to be able to access and use a wealth of open source and live operational data. We currently have around 1200 ArcGIS users, but this figure is going to explode into the thousands. GIS is going to be a part of pretty much every project going forwards.”

“ We currently have around 1200 ArcGIS users, but this figure is going to explode into the thousands. GIS is going to be a part of pretty much every project going forwards

Sophie Stouki – Head of GIS – Operations, Costain

The Benefits

Effective data sharing and collaboration
Costain’s enterprise GIS platform has significantly improved data sharing within the organisation and made it possible for employees to access a wide range of data sources on demand, from any location, via interactive web maps. As a result, employees now collaborate more effectively and save time across a wide range of activities. For instance, a team of ten environmental specialists has saved as many as 18 hours a week by using an ArcGIS web portal to gain rapid access to environmental data, reducing both the cost and duration of a key client project.

Increased productivity in the field
The roll-out of mobile ArcGIS apps in the field has led to significant productivity improvements, as employees no longer have to travel back to the office to find out information, print out maps or type up reports. For example, road inspectors working on one of the company’s largest highways management contracts now complete 60% more surveys in a week and provide live asset updates to the control room, rather than submitting reports three days later.

More efficient delivery of services
ArcGIS helps Costain to deliver more efficient services to its clients by making it far easier for employees to identify individual street assets and record information about their condition. Contact centre operatives, for example, have the information they need at their fingertips to identify faulty street lights accurately and can pass on a more precise location to the maintenance teams. Costain can, therefore, affect repairs more promptly and deliver a responsive service for its local authority clients and citizens.

Improved management of large contracts
On long-term highways maintenance contracts the use of ArcGIS helps managers to better understand the extent of required works. They can see, at a glance, which areas of grass and vegetation they are responsible for cutting and ensure verges and hedges covered by the contract are not missed. Equally, they can easily see adopted and private land, as well as third party apparatus, and avoid unnecessary interventions and associated costs.

A commercial advantage in tenders for new business
In a highly competitive marketplace, Costain is now better able to tender for high value new contracts as it uses ArcGIS to help demonstrate its ability to deliver advanced, technology-driven engineering solutions. “Prospective clients increasingly see GIS not as a nice-to-have, but as a definite requirement,” explains McManus. “Our extended use of ArcGIS puts us in a stronger position to win new business and deliver exceptional service for our clients in some of the UK’s biggest engineering projects.”

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Emu Analytics

Driving the roll-out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure

The data science and software company Emu Analytics has used Esri’s ArcGIS platform to show local authorities exactly where electric vehicle charging points should be installed on residential streets to meet rising demand for electric vehicles. Its pioneering analysis is helping councils to access government funding and accelerating the roll-out of charging infrastructure.

Complex demographic and spatial analysis conducted in a single, automated analytical process

Bespoke reports for 404 local authorities created in less than a minute, at a push of a button

Data shared in a meaningful, interactive format using StoryMaps to improve decision making

The Challenge

Amid growing awareness of the environmental impacts of diesel and petrol engines, more and more people are considering switching to electric vehicles (EVs). This has led to heightened demand for EV charging infrastructure, particularly in residential areas. Emu Analytics has calculated that an additional 83,500 EV charging points could be required in the UK by 2020, which represents an 83% increase in just two years.

To help local authorities respond to this demand, the UK Government has made a substantial grant available to cover 75% of the cost of installing new charging infrastructure on residential streets. The vast majority of councils have, however, been unable to submit grant applications as they haven’t had the necessary data to prove exactly where on-street charging infrastructure is needed.

“ By using ArcGIS to show local authorities where to prioritise the roll-out of charging infrastructure, and by giving them the data they need to apply for funding, we are helping to remove one of the biggest barriers to electric vehicle usage

Alice Goudie – Senior Location Intelligence Analyst, Emu Analytics

The Solution

Using its existing ArcGIS platform and Python, Emu Analytics has created an automated analytical process that provides local authorities with the data they need to apply for the government grant and accelerate the roll-out of charging infrastructure. The process predicts future demand for EV charger points, at street level, across the whole of the UK, and generates a unique report for each of the UK’s 404 local authorities with barely any manual intervention.

Firstly, ArcGIS identifies clusters of young, educated and well-paid individuals who match the profile of electric vehicle ‘early adopters’. Then the technology uses open source data from the Department of Transport on vehicle ownership to identify high densities of diesel car owners, who may be persuaded to switch directly from diesel to electric rather than from diesel to petrol. Other potential groups of early adopters are also identified in deprived areas, to ensure that all sections of society are considered.

Next, ArcGIS uses Ordnance Survey road maps and Land Registry data to measure the distances between buildings and the road, to identify properties that are unlikely to have driveways where private EV charging points could be installed. All of the demographic, vehicle ownership and driveway analysis is then combined on digital maps in ArcGIS Desktop to reveal ‘hot spots’ where there is potential high demand for on-street EV charging infrastructure.

At a touch of a button, Emu Analytics can embed maps and statistics from ArcGIS into bespoke four-page reports for local authorities, highlighting precisely those residential areas where EV charging infrastructure would be most used. Emu Analytics can also create Esri Story Maps to present local authorities with its analysis in a highly visual and interactive format.

“ The power of StoryMaps is that everyone can look at the areas they are interested in on a map and interrogate the data themselves to make better-informed decisions

Alice Goudie – Senior Location Intelligence Analyst, Emu Analytics

The Benefits

Faster roll-out of EV charging infrastructure
Through its use of ArcGIS, Emu Analytics can provide local authorities with the evidence they require to apply for the government grant and accelerate the roll-out of on-street charging infrastructure. One of the main factors currently impeding the widespread adoption of EVs is the shortage of EV charging points, so, by helping local authorities to install charger points more quickly, Emu Analytics is also helping to drive the growth in sustainable forms of transport. “By using ArcGIS to show local authorities where to prioritise the roll-out of charging infrastructure, and by giving them the data they need to apply for funding, we are helping to remove one of the biggest barriers to electric vehicle usage,” says Alice Goudie, Senior Location Intelligence Analyst, Emu Analytics.

Over 400 unique reports in less than a minute
Significantly, Emu Analytics has been able to use ArcGIS to create a rapid, repeatable analytical process so that the company can produce bespoke reports for each of the UK’s 404 local authorities, at the push of a button, in less than one minute. “Rather than having to produce map images and find the right data 404 times for 404 separate local authority reports, ArcGIS does it for me,” Goudie says.

Improved decision making throughout local authorities
Through the development of ArcGIS StoryMaps, Emu Analytics can make its detailed analysis available to clients in a format that they can easily understand and use to help them make effective decisions. The head of the council can see the data clearly explained in overview, while transport planners and highways staff can drill down to individual street level. As Goudie says, “The power of StoryMaps is that everyone can look at the areas they are interested in on a map and interrogate the data themselves to make better-informed decisions.”

A new value-adding service
Finally, ArcGIS has enabled Emu Analytics to offer an additional value-adding service for local authorities and develop a new revenue stream for its business. “This new service promotes our ArcGIS capabilities and shows our ability to use GIS in innovative way to solve business challenges,” Goudie observes.

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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

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

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.

“ 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 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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Donegal County Council

Crowd sourcing information to improve local planning

As part of the EU Northern Periphery Arctic Programme funded IMPROVE project on creating better public services, Donegal County Council commissioned Esri Ireland to help it engage with citizens more effectively on planning issues using crowdsourcing technology. Now the council can capture local knowledge and give citizens a stronger voice in the planning process.

Planning Officers make more efficient and better informed decisions about planning applications

Citizens play a greater role in the planning process as their views and knowledge are captured

Esri Ireland delivered the solution in 3 to 4 weeks using ArcGIS Online templates

The Challenge

Like all local authorities, Donegal County Council needs to take into account a huge range of factors when making decisions about planning applications. Much of the information it requires – such as the locations of special areas of conservation and flood risks – is held centrally within the council’s geographic information system (GIS), Esri’s ArcGIS platform. As a result, planning officers use ArcGIS to analyse the locations of proposed developments and identify any potential development conflicts quickly and easily.

The council realised, however, that there was a lot of local knowledge about Donegal that was not accessible via its GIS. Communities, families and individuals had knowledge about certain buildings, fields and even hedgerows that was often very pertinent to planning decisions, but that wasn’t recorded. The council consequently wanted to find a way to capture this ‘micro-knowledge’ within ArcGIS, so that it could be taken into account at an earlier stage in the planning process.

If we have more local information up-front, we can make well-informed decisions more quickly, improving the overall efficiency of our planning process

Daragh McDonough, Information Systems Project Leader – Donegal County Council

The Solution

With funding from the EU Northern Periphery Arctic Programme (NPA) IMPROVE project, Donegal County Council commissioned Esri Ireland to develop a solution for capturing local information from members of the public, making it publically available and incorporating it into the council’s core GIS planning systems. Esri Ireland achieved these goals by using Esri’s ArcGIS Online Crowdsource Reporter and Crowdsource Manager templates to expand the capabilities of the council’s existing ArcGIS platform.

“Esri Ireland brought strong expertise of working with Esri’s ArcGIS Online templates, specifically the Crowdsource Reporter and Crowdsource Manager, and was able to turn the project around for us very quickly,” says Daragh McDonough, Information Systems Project Leader at Donegal County Council. “We also learned a lot from working with Esri Ireland during the project, so we will be able to maintain and develop the solution ourselves in the future.”

After trialling the solution with a focus group of local citizens, Donegal County Council structured its crowdsourcing portal around seven key themes, ranging from the natural environment to transportation issues, with up to 12 different sub-sections underneath each. In this way, the council is able to organise the content it collects and use it effectively within its planning systems.

Now, members of the public can access the solution, named MyDonegalPlace, on the council’s website, put a dot on the map and enter local information on anything from the site of a bird’s nest or the birthplace of a local hero to a traffic blackspot. They can upload images and vote or comment on other people’s posts, helping the council to see which issues are most important locally. Council employees use Crowdsource Manager to moderate the content before it is published, making sure that personal details are not revealed.

Esri Ireland has given us a fantastic new way of capturing local information and giving citizens a role in the decision-making process for planning applications

Daragh McDonough, Information Systems Project Leader – Donegal County Council

The Benefits

Improved efficiency in the planning process
Donegal County Council expects to be able to make more informed planning decisions, as it can now take into account concerns and knowledge that local people have, right from the outset. For example, the council anticipates that it will need to issue fewer Further Information Requests, which can delay planning applications by up to 16 weeks. “If we have more local information up-front, we can make well-informed decisions more quickly, improving the overall efficiency of our planning process,” McDonough says.

Time and cost savings for developers
Developers and individuals who submit planning applications can potentially save money and time by using the Crowdsource Reporter to better understand local concerns. If they ensure that these local issues are fully addressed in their initial planning applications, they will avoid the added costs and delays that typically occur when plans are refused and amendments are required.

Greater community engagement in planning
Ultimately, the development of the new crowdsourcing solution benefits communities throughout Donegal, as it allows anyone to engage in the planning process in a structured way. “It gives people a voice,” McDonough says. “Esri Ireland has given us a fantastic new way of capturing local information and giving citizens a role in the decision-making process for planning applications.”

Enhanced public consultations
Looking ahead, Donegal County Council plans to use Crowdsource Reporter during public consultations to give members of the public a greater choice of ways in which to engage in the process. For example, it plans to use its new crowdsourcing solution as part of the upcoming Letterkenny Town Plan Review. “Crowdsource Reporter is a really valuable tool that we can use to engage with local people during public consultations, alongside traditional drop-in clinics and events,” McDonough says. “It will help us to get more people involved in building a shared vision for the future of Letterkenny.”

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