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Snowbound! Key infrastructure swiftly identified to enable critical gritting

  • GIS is an extremely useful emergency planning tool, enabling us to access, present and share information in a way that makes immediate sense to people – and in a timely and accurate fashion.

    Ben Heaton, Emergency Planning Officer

Hampshire County Council uses geographic information to identify priority routes to be salted during bad winter weather.

The challenge

In December 2009 and January 2010 prolonged snowfall and low temperatures resulted in a nationwide shortage of salt to grit the roads. Although well prepared for winter, the exceptional circumstances meant that Hampshire County Council, like many other authorities, began to run low on stocks. The national aspect to this prompted the Government to set up the ‘Salt Cell’ (including the Department for Transport, Local Government Association, the Highways Agency and the Cabinet Office) to consider how much salt was available for each local authority and Highways Agency area.

As a part of this contingency planning, the Cell required highway authorities to produce a strategic plan identifying the critical gritting routes that would ensure that important infrastructure remained uncompromised.

The solution

The solution required a joined-up approach between Hampshire County Council’s Emergency Planning Unit (EPU) and Highways Department. Geographic information from Ordnance Survey proved invaluable in ensuring the timely, effective and clear completion of this task.

The EPU identified the key categories, for example, health, power, emergency services and food distribution. By using Ordnance Survey’s Points of Interest and ADDRESS POINT® datasets, together with aerial photography and locally sourced information, they could quickly and accurately identify and locate all the important infrastructure. Points of Interest is a dataset of around 3.9 million geographic and commercial features across Great Britain – all highlighting location and function information from more than 150 different suppliers. It has a highly developed three- level classification system to help identify features of interest. Points are classified into nine broad groups, 49 subject categories and then around 615 highly specific classes. Each Points of Interest feature is provided with a National Grid coordinate, so it can be visualised as a point on a digital mapping system, and the data includes a full postal address wherever appropriate.

The image above is of the map that was produced, which clearly locates this key infrastructure and highlights the local and trunk road network that connects each element.

The benefits

Hampshire County Council’s geographical information system (GIS) allowed quick, easy and accurate sharing of information with the Highways Department and they were subsequently able to plan the critical gritting routes. The map was printed and exported into a PDF file, which allowed further information sharing with non-GIS users across the authority and other responders.

The products used

Download this case study PDF – 660kB

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Related case studies

With the help of large scale mapping data from Ordnance Survey, East Northamptonshire Council was able to reduce the number of refuse collection vehicles needed, contributing to significant savings.

In 2005, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service became one of the first in the country to deploy OS MasterMap® Topography Layer to every one of its appliances.

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