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Cornwall Council’s seamless base-map improves customer experience

  • Introducing greater consistency and a house style into the mapping are contributing factors towards improving the customer experience. By making a service easy to use it provides our customers with the confidence to interact with us more.

    Sarah Noakes, Cornwall Council

In a survey over a third of the users of the existing web mapping agreed with the statement ‘I don’t like the way the map changes style as I zoom in and out’. This prompted Cornwall Council to create their own zoom stack mapping styled from Ordnance Survey contextual vector products.

The challenge

With a service already in place how could Cornwall Council enhance the customer experience and justify the cost of making improvements? Already serving 17,000 map images across the Intranet each working day and an average of 21,000 over the Internet every day, the challenge is to increase these numbers and move customers away from the more time consuming forms of contact, such as phone calls and face-to-face visits.

The solution

To make significant improvements to online mapping services, the creation of a new zoom stack map cache with provision of a vastly improved look and feel to the base mapping that is customised to the council’s needs. This underpins future development and brings the council’s online GIS up to date, using new technologies.

Ordnance Survey’s vector contextual products (OS MasterMap Topography Layer, OS VectorMap Local, OS VectorMap District, and Strategi) are styled and rendered then pre-computed and cached as a series of small tiles to produce a seamless zoom stack using the latest Esri software. This allows the council to provide a consistent style across the scales, whilst refreshing each view remarkably quickly. The first use of the zoom- stack is to show locations of approved marriage venues, registration offices, libraries and schools (view example library location map here). Please note that the zoom stack is not yet utilised in the main mapping website, as a separate project to overhaul this is currently underway. In the future the council are looking to include the zoom stack mapping in some self-service reporting forms.

On average it costs £8.23 for each person that comes into an office or one-stop shop and £3.21 for each person who phones the council. The aim of Cornwall Council is to encourage customers to use the website to find information and carry out tasks – this costs £0.39 per person, so there are large savings to be made through customer self-service.

Since 1 April 2013 the customer contact centre has handled 749,766 phone calls, which equates to 1 million calls per year. With a target of 15% next year to shift customers from phone to web services, this will achieve a substantial saving.

The benefits

  • A 15% switch of channel from phone to web offers a potential saving of £423,000 in one year.
  • Improved web mapping encourages more customers to self-serve over the Internet saving £7.84 on each office visit and £2.82 on every phone call.
  • Provides a response to an internal staff survey where many did not like the way that the map changes style when zooming in and out.
  • The mapping is vastly improved and tailored to the council’s needs.
  • With an upgraded system there are performance improvements.

The products used

Download this case study PDF – 260kB


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In July 2013, Sir Andrew Witty, in conjunction with The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), published the preliminary findings of his independent review of universities and growth, underpinned by digital mapping data from Ordnance Survey.

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