The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) has introduced new functionality to its consultation portal, which uses detailed mapping from Ordnance Survey to get closer to customers and provide new, more detailed intelligence to support boundary reviews.
Having launched a new web portal in 2012, LGBCE has now rolled out phase two of the project, aimed at getting closer to customers and gathering more detailed and accurate information back from them, which can then be used to drive efficiencies in the boundary review process.
Until the launch of this portal in 2012, LGBCE always published mapping extracts to accompany draft recommendations as PDF documents that were stored online. The launch of the portal has made proposed boundary changes far more accessible for the public by bringing this information online, and has delivered internal efficiencies as well. The challenge LGBCE now faces is fine-tuning this new technology to ensure that it delivers the maximum possible benefit and return on investment, whilst giving the customer an easier, more interactive and enjoyable experience.
LGBCE partnered with Informed Solutions, a leading independent IS and IT professional services practice to deliver the web portal last year, and they have subsequently worked together to introduce new functionality to the portal to transform what was initially ‘maps and lines’ to intelligent data that can be used to drive further efficiencies within the organisation.
The portal is underpinned by 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. This agreement has opened up access to mapping data that has allowed LGBCE to introduce the following new functionality to the new web portal:
- Boundary location information – users can now fully interact with the service by clicking on a boundary line or an area and retrieve information back from it. Thanks to vector boundary mapping from Ordnance Survey, a user can now identify the ward name, the number of councillors in that area, the current electorate, forecast electorate data and the current state of the review by simply clicking on an area of interest.
- Drawing tools – once you have identified your area of interest, a user can zoom to a large scale and detailed map showing properties, roads, fences, playing fields and so on and see exactly where the proposed boundary is. If a user has a comment, or wishes to propose an alternative boundary, then they can drop a flag over a specific feature on the map, or use the drawing tools to redraw the boundary using detailed Ordnance Survey mapping as a guide.
As well as delivering new functionality, LGBCE has also been able to make more cross-government efficiencies and explore new ways of communicating information. Boundary data that is now stored electronically can be shared with other local authorities quickly and easily thanks to the flexibility of the PSMA.
- This new portal has increased the amount of public feedback by over 100% for some reviews.
- The PSMA has enabled the sharing of digital boundary files across the public sector and has allowed LGBCE to explore new and innovative ways of sharing and communicating information, thanks to flexible licensing terms. A picture paints a thousand words!
- The flexibility of the PSMA enabled Informed Solutions to access Ordnance Survey data as part of the portal development process.
- Ordnance Survey data is now underpinning the first fully-interactive boundary portal across the public sector.
- This new functionality has enabled LGBCE to get closer to the customer and get more useful and detailed information from them, whilst further reducing operational costs and further delivering against public sector ‘digital by default’ policy.
- The portal has further promoted positive impact of the LGBCE brand and has increased user confidence in the process.
- The system is now much faster, with no need to download large PDFs and LGBCE no longer has to interpret customers’ comments on proposed boundaries that would have previously been submitted in writing.
- LGBCE is now ‘easy to do business with’.
- LGBCE can share data on reviews and recommendations directly with local authorities, which increases engagement and reduces costs.