London Borough of Havering reaps benefits from geographic information with GGP
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London Borough of Havering reaps benefits from geographic information with GGP

March 05, 2008 -- The London Borough of Havering is taking advantage of the latest advances in GIS to boost its efficiency and finances. The council has successfully rolled out a GIS from GGP Systems to 300 users across the authority. GGP has also provided National Land and Property Gazetteer (NLPG) management software and web mapping enabling Havering to create, manage and distribute information both within the organisation and to external customers and partners.

Havering is the third largest borough in London and over the years had seen silos of data build up as different departments’ compiled records and mapped assets. GGP’s GIS is being used to tie information together with the NLPG property database providing a central repository of addresses to enable easy referencing and sharing records council wide.

“Big councils like Havering continually face the problem of deciding where to focus effort, budget and resources. We look carefully at which technologies can deliver the greatest benefits quickly and GIS was identified as a key system for us. GIS provides real street level information that can make a huge difference in improving services and delivering efficiency gains” says Ray Whitehouse, Havering’s Head of Business Systems.

With corporate support, GIS is beginning to fulfil its true potential as a serious business tool as Havering’s GIS Manager Chris Pickett explains; “Suddenly we had the authority and budget to move things on and it has made a huge difference. One of our first tasks was to undertake a council wide data audit. This revealed 600 separate datasets and confirmed that we have a vast untapped resource. We have now determined the accuracy and responsibility of those datasets”.

The GIS team have been pro-active in their approach by holding regular GIS forums for all the GGP users. Presentations have been given to encourage the best use of GIS, and to keep them informed of GIS plans and developments within Havering.

“With perspectives like aerial photography, GIS really brings data to life and data becomes useful to a much wider audience. The problem we faced 18 months ago was harnessing all of this data and GGP has provided the answer,” says Ray Whitehouse. “GIS is a great way of tying information together. You have to be pragmatic - the key is data sharing - we simply want everyone to be able to access all the data that we have, wherever it is.”

“With better access to data and more accurate data we can now use GIS to take a real street level look at the borough. So many issues happen at street level so more general statistics based on traditional zones are not much help. Take crime, for example. We can match crime data with graffiti, truancy, noise complaints and property-level Mosaic data to pinpoint specific problems. That is a very powerful tool and means that we can deliver appropriate services – such as re-positioning a CCTV camera to where it is needed most,” says Ray Whitehouse.

With Havering’s belief in GIS, the council is helping to develop London-wide forums that will allow data sharing so that services to London’s residents are affected less by geographic boundaries.

“Not only are we tapping into external data sources from organisations such as the emergency services and the Environment Agency, but we are also sharing data to help other organisations improve services in other parts of London and nearby in Essex, such as local Emergency Planning and Flood planning” says Ray Whitehouse.

Havering has also been keen to open up access to its data and a Citrix network provides access to centralised IT services. The council is utilising online GIS services using eGGP as part of their plans to deliver electronic service to 240,000 residents. “With eGGP we are extending the benefits of mapping and GIS to everyone, opening the way for a host of important services for residents” says Liz Dixon, Havering’s E-Government Portfolio Manager.

In fact, GGP’s solutions played a big part in Havering becoming the best performing London Authority for speed of decision on planning applications - and in winning the third highest Planning Delivery Grant in the country for the year 2006/7.

“GGP has certainly done its homework in producing a range of software that can underpin the transformation of local government and deliver real improvements, not just at an operational level but also corporately. It is great having such a responsive supplier on our doorstep - with their recent expansion and added capability in NLPG and web applications, they are proving an ideal partner as we push forward with our ambitious GIS and IT plans” concludes Ray Whitehouse.

Enquiries to Prim Maxwell at GGP tel. +44 (0)20 8686 9887, e-mail: Email Contact, www.ggpsystems.co.uk