Sovereign Housing Association is implementing new mapping technology from Esri to support its business transformation programme, including a planned increase in the properties under its management from 38,000 at the moment to 50,000 by 2018.
The three-phase GIS development programme started in September 2014. Phase one is now live, which included training more than 500 staff from Sovereign’s housing management, property services, service charge and grounds maintenance departments to use the mapping software. Sovereign is also using Esri’s GIS software in a pilot to identify areas of adjoining Sovereign and local authority land which would be most suitable to build homes on.
Sovereign’s goal is to build an advanced company-wide GIS system that will provide a single point of access to vast amounts of map-based data, accessible to all staff. This will support both operational and development strategies while enabling staff to provide tenants with improved services. The housing provider anticipates that by mapping all of its assets and sharing this data with all employees, greater insight will be gained into key operational issues such as stock condition, rent arrears and occupancy levels.
Other areas where analysing geographic patterns will help to deliver better services include gaining an improved understanding of how employment patterns, earnings levels and benefit changes affect residents. At the same time, plotting the results of Sovereign’s customer satisfaction survey is expected to reveal issues at a local level, rather than remaining hidden in spreadsheet data.
Sovereign is also keen to look at how the software can help it with flood risk analysis by mapping every property against flood data from the Environment Agency and other sources. In the longer-term, it is hoped that this information will result in reduced insurance premiums and help Sovereign to prioritise which residents need help first in the event of flooding.
Andy Bradley, GIS manager, Sovereign Housing Association, said, “Our priority is to build a new web-based GIS that will provide the foundation for better decision-making.
“Using GIS as the basis for making better business decisions further reinforces Sovereign’s reputation as one of the country’s most innovative housing providers. The Esri software will save us both time and money at the same time as demonstrating best practice to our peers across the social housing sector.”
Once the first phase is complete, Sovereign’s GIS team will focus on improved delivery of data on multiple devices, including smartphones and tablets, so employees can make real-time updates in the field. External-facing web maps for tenants will also be explored as a way of supporting further improvements in customer services.