Wakefield and District Housing (WDH), the fifth largest housing organisation in England, has put geographic and spatial data at the core of its operations following its implementation of a Pitney Bowes GIS system.
WDH wanted to centralise all of its spatial data in order to create a single resource for real-time asset data across all internal departments and deliver information to the police and local agencies. As an existing MapInfo Professional customer, WDH chose Pitney Bowes’ PlanWeb, a browser-based corporate intranet GIS solution. The selection process was also influenced by Wakefield Council’s previous deployment of Pitney Bowes’ Business Insight location intelligence system; while there was some cross-over of data between WDH and the council, WDH recognised the added value the system provided in terms of sharing data.
As well making spatial data work across the organisation, it was also needed for the upgrade and refurbishment programme for WDH’s 31,000 properties which planned for completion by 2010. Further work, due to be completed by 2012, will bring the housing group’s stock up to ‘Wakefield Standard’, a higher specification than required for the Decent Homes standard. This refurbishment programme is being financed by a £720 million fund, one of the largest investment funds in the country.
With WDH’s spatial data now released from isolated silos operated by just three GIS analysts, PlanWeb is now being used by 1400 WDH staff from all departments, including field engineers, regeneration staff, legal teams, property services and front-office staff.
Graham Hyde, GIS analyst, Wakefield and District Housing, said, “Confidence is key to effective and efficient service. By deploying the Pitney Bowes system, we’ve enabled people across every department to make quicker and better informed decisions.”
Having installed the PlanWeb system, WDH’s GIS team actively promoted it to internal staff, holding web seminars, roadshows and showcase sessions across the organisation. Graham Hyde added, “People won’t just stumble upon it. Promoting the availability and capability of PlanWeb has been key to its uptake, and word of mouth is also powerful once people start using it.”
As the housing data is now more accurate and up-to-date, WDH’s users are more effective, with new tenants able to be allocated housing faster once properties become empty. Maintenance and repairs are also handled more efficiently as easy access to mapping and aerial photography detailing spatial information such as boundaries, parking, grassed areas, roofing and fencing, has meant a reduction in site visits for engineers and estates officers. Furthermore, the system is proving invaluable in supporting WDH’s ‘One Call’ customer call centre, letting front-office staff log, advise and respond to customer enquiries with greater confidence.
The implementation of PlanWeb has also strengthened WDH’s relationship with local agencies and the police, such as supporting its Community Safety Partnership by sharing crime data, and enabling it to share critical asset infrastructure information with the fire service and improving WDH’s environment scheme by sharing data with Groundwork, the environmental regeneration charity.