Public sector


Putting our customers on the map

Guest blog by Ordnance Survey’s Mike Wooles

The public sector team at Ordnance Survey works with wide range of organisations spread across the country. The challenges faced by our customers are extremely varied, but they all united in that they all have a business or organisational need that involves location and geographic data.

As the public sector web editor, I am continually surprised by new areas of public sector services that I wasn’t previously aware of and the work that the great and often unseen work that is taking place that helps to keep our much valued public services operating efficiently.

Some examples of public sector work includes protecting Scotland’s historical monuments, managing highways in Blackpool, improving street cleaning in Immingham, flood alert responses in Cornwall and fire services in south Wales. However, unless you are close to the public sector or work in a particular sector, it’s difficult to appreciate the scale of work that goes.

All of diverse activity is carried out through the One Scotland Mapping Agreement (OSMA) and the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) for England and Wales.

To give you a better picture of what’s happening across the country and who is doing what and more importantly where, we have recently updated our case-study map, to give you a clearer picture.

Like all Ordnance Survey products, once you get to know them you discover that it’s not just a map! – the drop down box allows you to select the sector or industry you are interested in, so if you just want all of our Emergency Services customers or learn about Solutions for Transportation, make your selection from the drop-down menu to find the information you want.

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Digital mapping saves council time

Doing more with less – it’s a challenge that runs across the public sector. There’s no easy answer to this drive for efficiency, many public organisations are looking at increasing their use of digital solutions to drive greater levels of efficiency in resource hungry tasks.

One area that puts pressure on public finances is the battle with fraud. It is estimated that council tax fraud costs local authorities £131 million a year. And, this figure is increasing at a rate of 32 percent from 2011 statistics.

Like many councils, Stratford-upon-Avon’s district council have a fraud investigation team which focuses on reducing the volume of council tax fraud. To tackle this problem, detailed checks have to be made on individuals and their physical location – so geography plays a significant role in what initially sounds like a purely financial problem.

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Delivering together – Ordnance Survey and Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS)

Last week we had the opportunity to occupy the BIS Head Office foyer in London, to demonstrate how we are driving innovation and growth using geographic data in the public sector.

What was the objective?

  • To raise awareness of our customers’ success stories about the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA).
  • Demonstrate the value our data brings to government and commercial markets.
  • Showcase that location is the key tool in effective policy creation, decision-making and business analysis.

What did you do?

We had an exhibition in the BIS reception foyer from Tuesday to Thursday this week. We focused on 4 key areas:

  • Business – supporting economic growth with accurate and maintained mapping data
  • Innovation – enabling innovation and mapping solutions for the future
  • Skills – world renowned data capture & maintenance
  • Government – enabling public service delivery and efficiencies

To draw attention and to demonstrate the quality of our mapping, we produced a large scale extract of OS MasterMap Topography Layer data covering Victoria Street, London, available to view from the street outside.We also arranged for a surveyor to be present to show people how dedicated we are to state of the art collection techniques and accuracy!

What was the outcome?

By showcasing Ordnance Survey in this way we have been successful in raising awareness of the capabilities of geographical information within BIS. By co-ordinating the display with BIS, we were also able to put out internal communications to ensure that people across their organisation were aware and had the opportunity to attend and find out more about us.

How has this benefited Ordnance Survey?

This event gave us the opportunity to get closer to and build new contacts across new work areas in BIS. It has also built awareness of what we do and how our data can underpin public sector service delivery is key in order to sustain our position as the provider of geographical information to the public sector.


A walk in the park

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.   Read More


The unseen work of drainage boards

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. 

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Tracking trucks and saving salt with online mapping

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. 

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Search and rescue dog handlers use our data!

When someone goes missing, many people and organisations get involved in the search and thanks to the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA), Ordnance Survey data is included in the tools the search agencies have at their disposal.

Lowland Search dogs (LSdogs) is a non-profit, voluntary organisation founded in 2002. It overseas the standards and testing for dogs used to search for missing persons in lowland areas of the UK and assists the police and other agencies involved in search and rescue operations. A dog can search an area of 50 – 80 acres with a high probability of detecting the whereabouts of the missing person within an hour to an hour and a half, so they can be a vital and useful member of any search team.

Images: Lowland Search dogs

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A problem visualised is a problem managed

Like many densely populated urban areas, Hull is a city not without its challenges. Over ten years ago it was singled out as having one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the UK.

Hull City Council has now turned this around and thanks to work with Hull primary care trust (PCT) and a range of school, street and drop-in centre initiatives. The rate of teenage pregnancy is now significantly below the national average, with an estimated saving of £8 million. A targeted approach, supported by Ordnance Survey mapping products which helped to visualise the problem areas, has delivered significant improvements.

‘Hull spends £800 000 a year on the programme but saves more than £8 million by reducing teenage pregnancies and preventing children from going into care… Mapping is critical to the process, not only to ensure that contraception services are located in the right place but also to help communicate complex data to different audiences and to provide evidence that the strategy is effective. “

Gail Teasdale, Integrated Services Manager, Children and Young People’s Services, Hull City Council.

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Detect, deter and punish! – the fighting fraud event

Last month saw Ordnance Survey exhibiting at Fraud and Error 2012, discussing how organisations and public sector groups can reduce the impact of fraud on the economy, through better use of location information.

The public sector team at Ordnance Survey are promoting a smarter approach to fraud and prevention through improved data sharing capabilities and enhanced data analysis using geography. Currently the team are working in close partnership with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

They aim to help the government reduce this significant cost; by providing the expertise and to demonstrate how Ordnance Survey products, particularly AddressBase and OS MasterMap Topography Layer can support a range of organisations to help them deal more efficiently with this challenge.

Fast fraud facts
  • Government figures estimate fraud will cost the UK economy £73 billion during 2012
  • Public sector fraud is estimated to cost £21 billion in 2012
  • Individuals (you and me) will lose £6.1 billion due to fraudulent sales and identity theft
  • 3 pence of every pound spent by government goes to people who shouldn’t have it

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Interactive Maps for planning consultations

Making geographic information accessible and useful to the public is a key goal for Ordnance Survey and it’s great when examples of our Public Sector Mapping (PSMA) datasets  are used in something that’s easy to explain.

Surrey Heath Borough Council is using interactive maps for the public consultation stage of a major development, the Camberley Town Centre Area Action Plan. The maps built into Council’s website enable citizens to go online, view maps, aerial photography, download details of the proposed development and leave comments. This facility is enabled through Astun Technology’s iShare data integration and publishing platform and more specifically its ‘Logger’ module

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