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A building block for success

NLPG Exemplar Award: Highly Commended – ‘Best Business Process Transformation’ 2007: Suffolk Coastal District Council.

In 2003, as part of its major change and modernisation programme, Suffolk Coastal District Council began an ambitious IT project that was to last two years, cost £½ million and redefine and reprocess working practices across the organisation. The project had three unique yet highly complex elements which, when completed in combination, would provide a common and more efficient approach for the handling of all land and property based data within the council.

Integral to the successful completion of the project was the creation, maintenance and use of a single, standardised address database. The early recognition of the importance of this resource as the cement that bound together all elements of the project; such as the roll out of the council’s GIS, the digital capture of essential historical records, as well as business processes throughout the organisation. This enabled the completion of the project on time and under budget.

Outcomes

Suffolk Coastal created a master address list by combining disparate datasets from five distinct departments: Planning, Environment, Electoral Register, Non Domestic Rates and Council Tax. Unfortunately, due to duplication of data between departments, non standardised naming formats and even different data storage formats, the ‘master’ list contained 112,975 versions of the addresses for the estimated 60,000 properties within the district.

By scrutinising individual records on each and every map tile Suffolk Coastal produced a LLPG containing a realistic 78,847 records, this included the incorporation of undeveloped parcels of land for planning application processes. Once completed the Street Naming and Numbering function was incorporated within the remit of the LLPG team to ensure all new addresses were created to a consistent format, and that the LLPG received regular, daily updates.

The roll out of the council’s new GIS was seen as crucial to the ongoing successful implementation and maintenance of the LLPG data. In addition using the UPRN from the LLPG, more than 300 layers of geographically referenced data have been created, integrated and used daily. The GIS is now providing accurate and consistent data across all business areas, reducing the administrative burden of maintaining multiple datasets and improving access to map based information. The GIS has also enhanced the council’s ability to analyse information and automatically produce detailed ad hoc reports and statistics.

Having implemented an organisation wide address database and given access to this information through the use of its GIS, Suffolk Coastal addressed the issue of transferring information from paper records to digital formats. Historical planning records dating back over 50 years, including documents, site plans, correspondence and internal documentation, were converted to LLPG linked, GIS compatible digital data. This has improved access, enhanced service delivery and will form the foundation for a one stop shop for property information on the council’s website.

Key benefits

  • Creation of a centralised address resource that complies with national standards is trusted, and therefore integrated within business processes and service delivery throughout the organisation.
  • Roll out of the council’s GIS to every department with an estimated 300 plus active users improved the council’s map handling capability, standardised data capture processes and enhanced data analysis to deliver tangible savings, efficiencies and improvements in service delivery.
  • Transfer of historical information dating back over 50 years from paper to digital format in preparation for the launch of a one stop online property portal has also increased access to planning information throughout the organization.
  • Well placed to deliver Government’s service transformation agenda.
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