Are your communications channels robust? Are they reliable? What about bomb-proof? When the City of London needed to create a network of tough, resilient communications pods that would continue to function in the aftermath of a civil emergency, they needed Ordnance Survey data to help them optimise the locations.
How can a pod help me?
LED screens on the side of the pods deliver the latest shifts in the financial markets and other relevant news, helping to keep city traders informed. Workers in the city also need to know about movements below ground, so any delays or problems with the tube network are also published on the screens.
The pods are not just about communications – each one also helps to keep the city clean. The pods are designed with a recycling opening, allowing half a tonne of newspaper waste to be recycled each year.
How did this happen?
To deliver this complex and robust solution, Renew (a City of London partner) made use of Ordnance Survey’s partner emapsite to build a web based portal that could handle the requirements for the detailed geographic data needed in the design and planning process.
Continue reading 'News and recycling on the city streets'»
Wales is big. I don’t think anyone would dispute that. Not just in size (it’s estimated at 21 588 kilometres, 8 335 square miles or around 2073511 hectares) but as a comparison, if something is as big as Wales, it’s considered quite significant by the media. Deserts, forests, and asteroids are all measured using Wales as a geographical reference point by scientists and news teams.
So – big countries like Wales with many living in remote locations and near undulating countryside can be challenging to run. To manage things efficiently, public sector bodies need to work together, linking data, systems and organisations to maintain efficiency.
Here are some great examples of how this has been happening recently thanks to some innovative use of digital geographic information and map products in the public sector
Newport council – address data improves the benefits system
A collaborative project between the Welsh Government, Cardiff City Council and Newport Council hopes to generate up to £500,000 in revenue when deployed across the country, by more effective address management relating to council tax collection.
Using AddressBase (available under the public sector mapping agreement or PSMA) and Unique Property Reference Number and Local Land and Property Gazetteer, the councils are able to ensure any changes to the property or occupancy are updated across a range of systems. This improves the accuracy and efficiency of council tax collection and reduces the potential for fraud or non-payment.
Continue reading 'Wales – a big country needs big thinking'»
Have you ever seen a Bishop driving a bulldozer or a Curate using a compactor? This seems a strange question until you learn more about the Church of England’s land based assets.
To put you in the picture, the Church Commissioners’ minerals and mining portfolio covers approximately 750,000 acres. (Lancashire is just over 700,0001 acres to give you a sense of perspective). This makes it one of the largest geographic estates in the country. Who knew the Church of England was involved in primary industry such as mineral extraction?
The Church of England itself is no stranger to geography. Parishes and dioceses are geographic in their nature, so maps and boundaries are part of its structure. The land assets which are held and managed by the Church Commissioners for England help generate funds for its support and royalties are received for the extraction of minerals (such as chalk, sand and gravel), so the need for maps to help manage these physical assets is a natural step for an organisation with a wide-spread geographic footprint.
Continue reading 'Digital maps help the church manage their minerals'»
We recently came across this great use of Ordnance Survey maps to display an answer to a very old question – where do the supporters of different football teams actually live?
This question has been debated for some time, but the Oxford Internet Institute came up with a great idea to solve it using digital media.
The team consisted primarily of Joshua Melville and Scott Hale and they created a map that displayed Twitter mentions (tweets) of Premiership football teams, using geo-tagging to show the fans locations. This was based on tweets/data collected between August 18 and December 19, 2012.
Initially the team used pinpoints or dots to show each tweet/mention, but the data quickly overwhelmed the map background, so the decision was made to aggregate the locations to post code areas. This proved a more effective way to display their findings although more processing/geographic data was needed to achieve this.
Continue reading 'Football fan maps'»
Obesity is a growing problem across the country. We’re all familiar with the worrying statistics on diabetes, heart attacks and other related ailments and the effect on health and life expectancy.
This problem also has a financial and operational impact on the public sector health organisations. Hospitals are now building operating theatre facilities to cope with the increased average weight of patients and ambulance trusts across the country have had to take similar measures for patient transportation. (Here’s a BBC news article that covered the impact on our emergency services).
The result of this problem is a challenge for public sector organisations in terms of increased cost, but also to look at preventative measures to improve health and tackle some of the causes.
In Birmingham, this is a particularly significant issue for the local NHS organisations and the city council, the following statistics make interesting reading:
- 29% of the city population is now obese (the European average is 14%).
- Healthy eating and physical activity levels are significantly below the national average.
- The cost of dealing with this and the resulting ill health, is estimated at £330 million.
- Absence/loss of earnings is estimated at £2.6 billion.
Continue reading 'How far is it from school to the nearest takeway?'»
Travelling quickly to the scene of a crime is a regular activity for the police and thanks to the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA), emergency services across the land can equip their control rooms with digital mapping products from Ordnance Survey. Using products like OS MasterMap Integrated Transport Network Layer helps them find the best route (not always the shortest) to a particular location.
Responding in this way to an emergency is a very important task and many other public services share this responsibility and make use of Ordnance Survey digital mapping products made available through the PSMA.
However, the next step in dealing with crime could be to move from a reactive approach, where speed of response matters to a pro-active position where ‘predictive policing‘ is used to match resources to expected requirements for a geographic area. This is new territory for public services and requires some quite different thinking.
Operation Swordfish, launched in the West Midlands, took exactly this approach. Crime statistics are used to help with the planning process – a large proportion of the burglaries in Birmingham in 2011 were a repeat or ‘near repeats’; victims of crime within the heightened risk radius of a recent crime.
To turn this concept into an efficiently delivered programme, a depth of expertise on analysing and predicting criminal activity is also needed. This is where the Jill Dando institute (JDi) add their expertise, making use of the latest detection techniques to support this experiment in running in Birmingham.
Continue reading 'Predictive policing – a different approach'»
Imagine walking among the beautiful scenery of one of England’s national parks. You’re surrounded by hills, forests, streams and wildlife and fresh country air is filling your lungs. What’s the next thought that pops into your head? – it’s probably not planning applications!
For many public sector organisations that manage areas of parkland, that’s one of the daily challenges that comes with managing the scenic parts of our landscape. The Northumberland National Park Authority (NNPA) spend much of their time managing planning applications for 405 square miles of fantastic countryside. The park itself ranges from Hadrian’s wall, Kielder Water and Forest Parkand the Cheviot Hills. Here is the visitors guide for more information.
For the NNPA, their specific challenge has been to efficiently managing addressing data within the planning application system that covers the property within the park. This is a task that must sometimes seem as large as the park itself! Due to inconsistencies and the use of non-standard addressing, a manual process has been developed which has led to increased resources being required to manage a difficult manual process.
Thankfully, Ordnance Survey has a solution for these type of address and location challenges in the shape of the AddressBase products. These make use of unique property reference numbers (UPRNs to those in the know), which make the ‘look-up’ of address based data more precise and allow better interaction with other address based data resources. In the case of Northumberland Park these include planning history, property planning information and other business data. Continue reading 'A walk in the park'»
Few could argue that the recent sporting spectacle in London hasn’t been a roaring success for the UK, but while many of us focus on the fantastic results achieved by Team GB, it’s worth looking at the work that went into creating the visual spectacle of the Olympic Park itself.
Thanks to the work of the Institution of Civil Engineers in London (ICE London) the story of how the games were literally made, told by Sir John Armitt (Chair of the Olympic Delivery Authority), has been carefully documented and published online for all to see.
The story of its construction includes a cast of 30,000 engineering workers including architects, engineers and transport planners aiming to create a park to receive more than 500,000 spectators over the course of the games. The size of the construction and engineering team seems vast, but scale was vital to tackle a project of this magnitude, delivered against the clock in one of the world’s busiest cities.
Continue reading 'Engineering the Olympic Park'»
Ever get the feeling things are going on that you don’t know about? Perhaps in the next office or right underneath your feet? You might just put this down to personal paranoia, but actually you’d be right – a great deal of activity is constantly taking place, helping to keep our green and pleasant land free from floods and to keep terra firma just as you would expect it.
Water for industry
Let’s start with farming in the UK – the output of this is heavily influenced each year by our climate and rainfall – receiving the right amount of rain at the right time helps maintain correct water levels for crops to flourish. Consequently the weather and our rainfall are regularly commented on by the media and the UK farming community.
Although rain is a key factor in food production, what’s less often considered is the maintenance of vital drainage and flood defences that are also key to our agricultural land remaining in a usable state. Drainage is something we are all dependant on, to keep the land we use operational so that land-based industry can continue to function and contribute to the UK economy.
The role of an Internal Drainage Board (IDB), like the drains themselves, is not often seen, but we depend on them to maintain a complex structure of watercourses and a range of physical assets, such as pumping stations and bridges.
When Witham Fourth IDB recently carried out a survey of their physical assets, they needed to plot the locations on a map and add to their geographic information system (GIS). This work was made possible by using Ordnance Survey digital mapping products, under the Public Sector Mapping Agreement, to provide the mapping background required for this activity.
Continue reading 'The unseen work of drainage boards'»
Knowing exactly where your organisation’s physical assets are located might seem easy if you own a few offices or factories, but if your workforce has wheels, keeping track of valuable assets becomes a much greater challenge.
Exactrak supports over 90 local authority customers whose gritting lorries, road sweepers and refuse collection trucks roam the streets. Working closely with Astun technology they recently upgraded their existing web-based system which now promises the potential for greater vehicle cost savings. The system uses OS MasterMap Integrated Transport Network(ITN) Layer together with OS MasterMap Topography Layer and OS OpenData products including Strategi and Meridian 2.
OS MasterMap ITN Layer allows Exactrak customers to create optimised navigation routes for local authority vehicles which are more than just the fastest route from ‘A’ to ‘B’. They include vital detail such as widths of roads, speed restrictions and vehicle weight and height restrictions enabling the most appropriate route to suit the vehicle and the service it delivers.
The maps themselves are licensed to local authorities through membership of the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA), which allows public sector organisations to use our mapping products to support the provision of public services.
Continue reading 'Tracking trucks and saving salt with online mapping'»