Bringing Location to Life - case study based on a presentation from Wayne Brooks, Service Data Manager for Highways, Devon County Council at the GeoPlace conference 2019
The more data we have, the harder it can be to understand what’s happening. Devon County Council (DCC) has a network of 12,800km (8,000 miles) of roads, and over 20,000 roadworks planned each year. With that data, the data managers working in the Council have created reports with visualisations that explain what’s happening where on the highways and why: they respond to over 100,000 internal and external queries annually.
The team uses POWER BI (Microsoft’s business analytics service and data-presentation tool), to crunch the data that’s needed to create those reports.
Each visualisation may use a variety of graphic tools, infographics, and other images to represent the information – but every one of them uses precise location to make the transition from raw information to understandable, easily shareable insights.
Business Intelligence systems can capture and deliver detailed information. But through the integration of location data, it is also possible to cross-reference many otherwise disparate datasets and reveal valuable, actionable insights with ease.
Like many county councils, Devon uses location data from the National Street Gazetteer (NSG) to increase efficiency and ensure disparate datasets are correlated effectively:
• Enquiries are attributed and handled using data from the NSG, as are online enquiries and questions coming in via the main call centre.
• Behind the scenes, several departments depend on the Unique Street Reference Number (USRN) to ensure their systems integrate with each other. This includes the maintenance, reporting, and management of street lighting, structures, and street works; the Council’s asset inventory; environment landscaping and public rights of way.
• And actions being taken by Devon County Council are also referenced with precise location data: things like claims, defects, inspections, orders, and payments.
These activities all use the USRN. And the data team has discovered that maps, in particular, are one of the most effective ways to present reports and information about these activities, and the progress being made by their partner teams. However, the DCC team has also found that location data extracts can be used intuitively to ensure information delivers all-important insights.
“A smooth operation depends on robust policies, great staff, and getting excellent insights from data. Understandable insights; sharable insights. Everything needs to be connected, and the USRN is the ideal way to achieve that.”
-Wayne Brooks Service Data Manager for Highways, Devon County Council