Colchester Borough Council’s ICT strategy has driven their operational systems into the cloud. In line with this, the procurement of a hosted gazetteer solution was sought, and we were delighted to win the bid in 2019.
Having had some time to bed in, the tangible benefits of the move are being felt across the whole organisation.
In the past, Colchester found it very difficult to make amendments to their Local Land and Property Gazetteer (LLPG) records, such as moving a Basic Land and Property Unit (BLPU) to a new street. This made tasks both time-consuming and frustrating. Since going live with our hosted LLPG gazetteer, iManage, this has become much simpler, allowing for changes to be made easily while maintaining the full history of the record. In addition, the automatic updates to background mapping via WMS have saved time and eliminated the need to use bespoke conversion scripts.
iManage has delivered many other time-saving processes that Colchester didn’t have before, such as being able to add cross references in bulk as opposed to having to amend each individual record. This has been particularly helpful for the Street Naming and Numbering team who spent 20% of their time doing this manually. Since the hosted solution went live 12 months ago, Colchester has made a tangible saving of between 4 to 6 staff hours per week, meaning more time can be focused on other projects/tasks. Add to that the functions that are making their jobs easier, such as adding other GIS layers to the map to help with specific queries, it’s plain to see how the delivery of processes and tasks has become more streamlined and slick.
As a part of Colchester’s hosted solution, they are now able to control the data being sent to all the different systems.
‘Now it’s so much easier to create and manage the recipients, we can regularly audit the various DTF files that are sent, ensuring our systems are only receiving the most relevant data. This efficiency has helped us develop stronger relationships with our data system suppliers as it takes less time to resolve queries between these systems.’ Kieran Johnston, Strategic ICT Manager.
Not all of Colchester’s internal systems can take DTF files, so they are using our data engine Location Manager, to address this. By scheduling SQL scripts they can automate the output of data to csv and tab formats, enabling them to deliver to all systems, while saving the cost of doing this manually.
As the solution is hosted, we feed the files directly to the national hub when they are required, helping Colchester maintain the gold standard they are so proud of.
Manipulating data for precise reporting
In addition to the efficiencies achieved, this new, streamlined LLPG solution has also enabled greater precision when interrogating the data. Colchester has been able to gain new insights into their address data as a result, for example, the export function has enabled them to pull out and analyse data very easily allowing them to quickly respond to requests. They have also been able to work with other systems teams and provide more targeted data which in turn creates a higher quality dataset throughout the Council.
As our solution is SQL based, Colchester has found it much simpler to use SQL Management Studio to check the errors and omissions in their data that don’t show up in the GeoPlace exception reports. This helps address any lingering inaccuracies they simply weren’t able to manage before.
Effortless migration and continued support
Taking a customer-centred approach, we understand how important it is to provide a seamless migration that has minimal impact on the day-to-day processes.
‘The process of moving data was very streamlined – in fact the whole LLPG replacement project from initial discussions about requirement to end user training went very well indeed. We’ve experienced no connectivity issues since implementing the hosted system and the performance is instant,’ Kieran Johnston, Strategic ICT Manager.
‘Our Account Manager and technical support have been amazing! They’re always very helpful, timely and supportive in the queries we’ve raised. We were very impressed that in a short space of time, Aligned Assets created and implemented a solution to a function that had disappeared in a recent upgrade. In previous ‘on-premise’ solutions we could have been waiting until the next upgrade to address this.’ Kieran Johnston, Strategic ICT Manager.
‘Through our ICT strategy, the drive to go hosted for our LLPG solutions has resulted in a slick and streamlined platform for the many complex processes that require accurate and consistent address data. Not only has this brought about time-efficiencies across all the departments using address data, it’s also contributed to a more cohesive way of working, promoting a greater sense of integration and cooperation.’ Kieran Johnston, Strategic ICT Manager.
‘Over the last couple of years we’ve seen an increasing demand for migrating to the cloud. And this has become even more evident since the outbreak of Covid-19 and the resulting rise in remote working. It makes more sense than ever for local authorities to reap the efficiencies of hosted cloud-based solutions. Colchester Borough Council are a great example of an authority that have embraced this technology to make substantial time- and cost-savings,’ said Dinesh Thanigasalam, Commercial Director of Aligned Assets.