Cadcorp’s housing user group event in London at the beginning of February highlighted some of the ways in which housing providers are using GIS and mapping as a strategic tool for their business operations.
Steve Litchfield and Dean Ballard described how Orbit Group is using GIS as a business intelligence tool for analysing and presenting key geographic data sets, such as the Census and NOMIS. The technology is being used to help management decide where and what to build in order to meet predicted housing needs, and how to make the most of their existing stock of around 38,000 properties.
Alex Hill, GIS manager at Plus Dane Group, explained the importance of integrating GIS technology with a housing provider’s back-office systems, because integration isn’t just about being able to visualise properties, land, and maintenance responsibilities on a map, but also about adding ‘spatial value’ to the back-office systems.
Hill explained how Plus Dane was using GIS to help with the mutual exchanges needed as a result of benefits reform, enabling under- or over-occupied properties in the same area to be exchanged to reduce the effects of the ‘bedroom tax’.
Having installed Cadcorp SIS last summer, London & Quadrant Housing Trust is now working with a specialist data capture services company, Oxford Data Consultancy, to provide detailed information by combining the use of Ordnance Survey maps and Land Registry boundaries. L&Q plans to link Cadcorp SIS with its internal housing management system and to exploit the resulting location intelligence for hotspot mapping of anti-social behaviour, for analysing housing stock and repair activity, and for generating tenant satisfaction maps.
Craig Godwin from Oxford Data Consultancy demystified what is involved in the data capture process and reported that contract value savings of 10-15 per cent are not unusual when a housing provider enters contractual negotiations (and renegotiations) with its grounds maintenance contractors armed with accurate data on the extent and characteristics of the grounds being maintained.
Godwin added that the data capture process often throws up inaccuracies and inconsistencies in Land Registry records which a housing provider should address sooner rather than later. At the same time, housing providers sometimes benefit from a windfall when the data capture process reveals the existence of properties that it didn’t know it owned.