Places for People has implemented an organisation-wide geographic information system to improve decision-making processes around ongoing projects, its stockholding investment programme, and asset management and reporting.
Despite already being desktop users of a range of GIS technologies, Places for People had no strategy for deploying it for strategic purposes. Dave Power, group head of neighbourhoods, Places for People, said, “Our GIS was really no more than a mapping solution which we used with varying degrees of success. However, we could see the potential it had to improve our business, particularly when managing 60,000 homes across the country.”
The comprehensive nature of Places for People’s operation, which employs over 2000 people, and the extent of its stock holding, meant that it had no overall view of its assets. While there were several business applications in place, such as asset management, they were typically focused on core groups of individuals within the business.
The core objective of Places for People’s GIS project was, said Dave Power, “to provide the organisation with to improve our processes across specific areas of our business, including asset management and strategic decision-making. Our experience of GIS suggested that we could achieve value in many areas of our business if the right toolset could be developed.”
Places for People entered into discussions with GeoSolveIT, a specialist GIS consultancy, and as the project unfolded, four key goals were identified:
Stock locator tool to give all staff access to key information on Places for People’s stock holding;
Project locator tool to identify the location of all ongoing projects and their associated schemes, and provide transparency across all programmes of work;
Strategic modelling support tool for improved decision-making concerning stock-holding investment and divestment;
Asset programme and reporting to meet legislative and regulatory requirements, particularly the Decent Homes initiative.
Dave Power said, “We also wanted to develop a data warehousing capability alongside the GIS to make the most of our existing Oracle technology investments. This became an increasingly important requirement during the project’s development.”
Having undertaken a requirements assessment to determine the exact needs of the systems, GeoSolveIT and Place for People short-listed four GIS vendors. Based on ease of data capture, integration with Oracle, management of Mastermap data and overall value for money, CadCorp was chosen as the preferred GIS technology provider with its desktop MapModeller and web-based Geognosis products.
QuickAddress Batch from QAS was chosen for the geo-coding and updating of Places for People’s stock locations, while mapping data and associated business datasets were sourced from a range of providers, including the Ordnance Survey for its Mastermap topographic and imagery databases.
GeosolveIT integrated these products and services into Places for People’s IT infrastructure and successfully delivered the original four project goals: the stock locator; the project locator; modelling support tools; and programme management for Places for People’s assets.
Dave Power said, “We have experienced massive benefits. For example, GIS provided detailed mapping support to our Big Lottery Grant input which supported a wider bid by Places for People to secure funding. This was successful in obtaining a £15m grant to regenerate over 70 local communities across the country to create green community spaces, and recreational activities for thousands of customers.”
GIS has also allowed access across the organisation, via the intranet GIS application, to the current housing stock and the ability for users to view the areas targeted for development. Dave Power said, “This is the first time that all staff have been able to understand the stock position with any degree of consistency, and they can now see where each operating company owns their respective property. This will drive operational improvements and maintenance efficiencies in the future.”