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Creating a spatial data infrastructure in North Somerset

Exemplar Award Winner- Best Practice Award Runner-up 2013: North Somerset Council

Like many other councils, much of the data created and held by North Somerset Council was held locally by various functions. As such, sharing information between services was often difficult and led to inconsistencies. This project created a new, centralised data infrastructure with the Local Land and Property Gazetteer (LLPG) at its core.

The issue

The main issue was that data were held throughout the council in many different formats and in various silos, limiting opportunities to unlock the full potential of information and through effective, collaborative working.

The project implemented a central, flexible and sustainable GIS architecture with the Local Land and Property Gazetteer (LLPG) at its core. The project brief was to maximise the usage and accessibility of corporate information, while delivering significant cashable and resource savings (e.g. reducing software licence costs and removing duplicated copies of data).

This was a hugely ambitious project that had to be fitted around existing work commitments and within existing resources. The project did not attract any capital funding as funding was met by a planned reduction in software costs and streamlining of technical architecture.

Solution

Key to the effective management and dissemination of data was the establishment of a single corporate repository of geographic information. The spatial database was identified as an enabler that would maximise the integration potential of the LLPG alongside other spatial data.

All existing corporate spatial information would be migrated to the new database, with either live links or scheduled updates created to back office systems. Linkages were through the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) or the Unique Street Reference Number (USRN) which allowed data to be studied from property level through to regional level, using spatial database queries.

The following systems needed to be linked to the database as part of the initial phase:

• LLPG

• CRM

• Streets and open spaces

• Planning, building control and land charges

The project also included the replacement of existing corporate intranet and internet GIS applications as this technology was outdated and inflexible, stifling innovation. The new systems were to be procured to ensure technology was no longer a barrier, enabling more creative working that would realise the true benefits of the LLPG and other corporate information. Both the intranet and internet applications were specified to read from the spatial database to ensure no duplication of data or effort.

Alongside the three primary deliverables, the project had additional objectives, including reducing licence costs, making information easier to understand, and breaking down silos within the organisation and with partners.

Outcomes

The project successfully delivered the primary objectives outlined above. In addition, a number of unexpected benefits were realised:

• there has been a significant increase in the number of links between the LLPG and other council data, including council tax, waste management data and adult social care

• LLPG data matching has been simplified due to the geocoding tools in the new systems

• map requests to the GIS team have seen a 90% reduction, significantly more than predicted, due to effective self-service and confidence in information

• increase in self-service transactions by the public through the improved web interface • senior management awareness has greatly increased of the value of the data more widely and the LLPG specifically

• the requirements of the European Inspire mandate have been met through the production of compliant metadata through the new system

• GIS/LLPG information is now available to mobile devices, meaning more ‘field based’ data capture/review is possible in real time, opening the door to many further savings

• reduction in software costs and staff time spent processing data requests, equalling cashable savings of £70k per annum.

Authority view

Our aim was to create a spatial infrastructure, with the LLPG and LSG at its core, to centralise information and give greater access to users throughout the council. The result was much greater and better access to data, growth in its usage and subsequent increase in quality demonstrating what can be achieved with some lateral and innovative thinking. The project has successfully opened up access to LLPG and GIS information, not just within the council but also to members of the public, partners and parish/town/ward councillors

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