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Ordnance Survey maps out the future of the Government’s regional aid policy

  • I was really excited to get the chance to work with Ordnance Survey on this leading-edge digital project.

    Duncan Budd, Deputy Director, Business and Local Growth Dire

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has launched a new web portal powered by Ordnance Survey map data to underpin the development of the 2014–20 UK Assisted Areas Map.

The challenge

The site we built with them allowed us to engage brilliantly with stakeholders to target assisted areas coverage where it can make the most difference to local economies in need.

Duncan Budd, Deputy Director

BIS is the department for economic growth. The department invests in companies, skills and education to promote trade, boost innovation and help people to start and grow a business. Assisted Area status allows the UK Government to grant a type of financial support, known as Regional Aid, to help drive growth and innovation in less advantaged local economies. The Business and Local Growth group in BIS had been tasked with facilitating a public consultation on the development of the 2014—20 UK Assisted Areas Map, which would involve the creation of a geographic database of economic opportunities in the UK that will aid the development of the 2014—20 UK Assisted Areas Map.

The outstanding level of detail available in Ordnance Survey’s map data allowed us to show coverage at all spatial scales, such as national, regional, local authority and ward areas, right down to individual buildings – depending on the need of the partner in question. As a result, we have a high quality map as well as high levels of satisfied users.

Duncan Budd, Deputy Director

Previous consultations have been paper-based exercises, which although successful, are time—consuming, inefficient, expensive and ultimately less scalable. For this consultation, it was important that BIS utilised web technologies, in line with the Government’s Digital by Default strategy, to underpin the citizen engagement element of the consultation. Wherever possible, BIS had to utilise existing knowledge, skills and technologies available within the public sector to keep costs to a minimum. It was also important to find an effective way to visualise a large range of boundaries online and provide users with geographic context so that they could interpret proposals clearly and make informed responses to the consultation. Quality feedback was of vital importance; therefore the solution needed to be easy to deploy, clear and easy to use. BIS also needed a precise, long-term reference capability for companies to know whether sites across the UK are in an Assisted Area or not to help plan their investment decisions.

The solution

BIS utilised mapping data from Ordnance Survey supplied under the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) – a licensing agreement that allows all public sector organisations across England and Wales to use geographic data provided by Ordnance Survey completely free at the point of use. BIS also used OS OnDemand, a web map tile service available from Ordnance Survey, to deliver detailed backdrop mapping over the web to a portal that provided the geographic context for the boundaries that were overlaid on top.

To achieve this setup, BIS utilised Boundary-Line, an administrative boundaries dataset from Ordnance Survey, styling and predefining the dataset in accordance with the associated values and then placing the data in a data store that was linked to the portal. The parameters were set so that certain boundaries would appear at certain zoom levels to enhance the customer experience and complement the mapping supplied by OS OnDemand. Also, users could extract data from each of the boundaries, such as population and upper-tier local authority names, and could also search for their area of interest using postcode, place name, Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) boundary, local authority boundary and ward name. Finally, BIS incorporated a feedback tool that allowed users to submit feedback electronically.

The benefits

  • By creating a consultation portal that was underpinned by mapping from Ordnance Survey, BIS has attracted over 1,800 unique visitors to the site, with around 25% of those visitors returning to the site for a second time. This has provided a far greater level of citizen engagement than ever before.
  • BIS now has a precise, long-term reference capability for companies to know whether sites across the UK are in an Assisted Area or not to help plan their investment decisions.
  • By using OS OnDemand to underpin the mapping element of the portal, BIS saved around £8,000 on hosting costs plus a further £5,000 worth of time that it would take to create a bespoke map stack to support the portal.
  • This new functionality has enabled BIS to get closer to the customer and get more useful and detailed information from them, whilst further reducing operational costs and delivering against the public sector ‘Digital by Default’ policy.

The products used

Download this case study PDF – 449kB


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