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NLPG Exemplar Award Best Practice – Best Business Process Transformation 2009: Newport City Council.

Newport City Council (NCC) has over 50 business areas supported by separate IT systems, all of which rely on addresses. NCC, which was an early adopter of GIS, fully understands that it needs to identify locations in order to deliver services. In 2003, it embarked upon an ambitious programme to build a single source of addresses that would underpin business transformation, join up processes, deliver efficiencies and improve services to the citizen.

The NCC project aims to create a corporate spatial data repository that would not only provide a single source of addressing for all of its support systems, but also support the extensive GIS function within the authority.

The project seeks to build on the spatial data capture work that has been going on at NCC since 1989. This work would focus on the capture of Basic Land and Property Unit (BLPU) extents within Newport, i.e. not just the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) represented by a geo-referenced centroid but the extent of each property. The vision stretches to central management of the Street Naming and Numbering process and management of the NSG.

Outcomes

Progress has been impressive. In the first year, Newport established its Local Land and Property Gazetteer, and it launched its City Contact Centre and associated CRM. New systems integration is a continuing process. In 2004, the LLPG was integrated with Environmental Health, Trading Standards, Licensing, Land Charges and Renovation Grants. In 2005, a Spatial Data Unit was created to manage centrally the LLPG, the NSG and Street Naming and Numbering (SNN).

In 2006, there was further integration with Development Control, Building Control and Youth Offending. Today there are 14 systems integrated with the LLPG, including Electoral Registration and Estates Management. All business areas, including those not linked, now recognise the LLPG as the single most authoritative source of address information, and work closely with the GIS and gazetteer management team to ensure they are using the most up-to-date source when queries arise.

Behind the scenes, a quiet revolution has been taking place and today there are over 55,000 out of an estimated 75,000 BLPUs now created, confirmed and quality assured. These are all captured in the LLPG and can be viewed council wide. The BLPUs are captured as and when required, when a new property is built or when there is a new planning application affecting an existing property, for example. With approximately 3,000 new BLPUs added each year, the goal of complete coverage is within sight and likely to be given further impetus by the European Union INSPIRE Directive which looks to harmonise the way spatial information is captured and shared across Europe.

NCC process approximately 10,000 spatial data extents each year. Where a BLPU already exists, the savings and efficiencies accrue. A full development might include between 100-200 variations of conditions, resulting in a lot of plotting and digitising work. However, if the extent is already digitised, the processing time is cut from three minutes to around 30 seconds, an efficiency improvement of 6:1, a significant saving. In the case of Planning Services, which includes both Development and Building Control, the time taken to process submitted applications has been calculated to be 84% with a consequent impact, in terms of registration, designation to a planning officer and service delivery to the applicant. Improved efficiency and performance means that NCC also meets national key performance indicators.

NCC benefits from an improving single source of high quality spatial data which has an impact across the council. As well as reducing duplication of effort associated with handling planning applications, it improves communications between business areas, and speeds up the response to almost any query from the public. Every business area benefits, even those that are not fully integrated, because access is available through a corporate GIS.

Key benefits

  • Changes in data capture methodology have been achieved at no extra cost to the citizen.
  • Huge improvements in efficiency achieved in planning application processing.
  • Central and integrated management of LLPG, NSG and Street Naming and Numbering.
  • Improved response and service delivery to citizens.
  • Improved communications and data sharing across all business areas.
  • Foundations laid for further business area systems integration.
  • Will be easier for NCC to meet its INSPIRE obligations.
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