From: Fergus Craig, Business development manager, Cadcorp
Sir – I am still amazed at how many housing providers do not know about the free maps they can get their hands on. As housing is so location-focused, meaning much of the data held in a housing organisation is based around properties and neighbourhoods, using mapping provides an additional level of understanding that tables in spreadsheets and databases just cannot deliver.
For example, planned maintenance schedules may extend the length of a street, cover a postcode, or an estate. Without visualising where the properties are located on a map, it is possible to miss a vital opportunity to make savings by including nearby streets or postcodes in the same schedule. For example, one housing provider recently made a substantial gain using maps – a search was carried out to find all legal ownership areas that did not contain at least one of their properties; one finding was a block of flats that was owned by the housing association but managed by a local council. Once management was correctly transferred back to the housing association, two properties were vacanted and sold at auction.
As another example, last year the Ordnance Survey made many of its mapping products available free of charge through the OpenData program and other free mapping projects and resources are available such as OpenStreetMap that provide fantastic coverage of the UK and the rest of the world. Use of mapping has the potential to deliver huge savings for housing providers; they should consider how they can benefit from this resource.