Places for People has completed the deployment of a centralised geographic information and mapping system from Emapsite. The GIS now underpins activities such as site appraisals, stock rationalisation, demographic profiling and neighbourhood planning and is used by over 100 people across the housing provider’s departments.
Clare Nolan, GIS analyst, Places for People, said, “Our GIS data use before 2008 was largely confined to desktop licences but it wasn’t centralised. There was therefore a great opportunity to use a central GIS to organise and disseminate outputs based on mapping data, census information, demographics and Land Registry data.
“For example, one of the main tasks of our housing advice team is to provide information to people looking for specific types of housing in different locations. To help with that, we wanted to support the team by showing where, for instance, we had sheltered housing schemes. We knew that with GIS, we could combine the locations of those schemes with other data such as deprivation indices, house price variations, census statistics and neighbourhood profile planning to make it appear as though the team had local knowledge which potential customers value.”
At the start of 2012, Places for People needed additional geographic datasets to strengthen its GIS and so reviewed the ways in which key datasets such as OS MasterMap were bought, managed and maintained. Emapsite was then chosen to provide the data as well as an online web mapping service (WMS) to access the data. Emapsite’s WMS provides instant access to the latest Ordnance Survey mapping including OS MasterMap and the datasets available through OS Open data such as BoundaryLine, StreetView, 1:250,000 and MiniScale.
Nolan said, “It helps us pre-qualify people for the waiting list and stop those going on the list who, for whatever reason, wouldn’t ultimately meet the criteria. Having that filter at the start reduces administration later on, and for those who do qualify, the GIS helps us populate their application forms and call up all the information that is available for their location.”
The housing provider is currently running a two-year, region-by-region project to map all of its external assets. Using the GIS, staff can quickly align map data and aerial photography with Land Registry data to visualise boundary lines and geographic extents. Features such as grass cover, trees, bushes, hard-standing structures can be identified and mapped.
Nolan said, “The GIS will potentially save us a lot of money on grounds maintenance projects by enabling us to more accurately describe what needs maintaining on an estate, its current condition and what works are needed.
“We can also buy very small amounts of data, such as from OS MasterMap, as and when we need them. There is no minimum order and they can be consolidated as required. You simply draw a box round the data and download it for what you need.”