With only one person trained to use the desktop GIS for analysing school routes, calculating which pupils were eligible for bus travel and answering queries about catchment areas was a time-consuming process. Pupil Services therefore tasked the GIS team with developing a solution that would simplify and widen access to this information, enabling more people to carry out the analysis and respond to public enquiries much more quickly.
After replacing the department’s existing single desktop GIS with a bespoke web-based GIS that could be used by all staff, work focused on creating a definitive road and path network dataset using OS MasterMap Integrated Transport Network (ITN) Layer combined with the council’s own path network. Sections of road identified as being unsafe were also added to the data, along with information such as cycle routes, manned school crossings and pedestrian crossings taken from the council’s roads asset database.
The resulting dataset allows education staff to undertake analysis using simple web-based GIS tools and identify an instant route from a specific address to its catchment school. Routes are calculated in real-time and viewed against Ordnance Survey background mapping, street mapping or aerial imagery. Turn-by-turn, written directions and distances are also provided and safe crossing points and hazards are automatically added.
Reaction to this new tool has been so positive that a simplified version is now available on the council’s website for residents to use – either at home or via a mobile device. After searching for their catchment school, parents are then able to see the location of safe crossing points and cycle routes on a map so that they can decide the best way for their children to travel. As the tool has been optimised for mobile devices, 3G can be used to detect the precise location to automatically identify the designated catchment school.
- Delivers time and cost savings by allowing all members of Pupil Services to perform analysis of school bus eligibility, catchment areas and safe routes.
- Improves services for residents by enabling faster response times to enquiries.
- Empowers parents to make informed choices about the safest routes for their children to travel to school.
- Widens access to the council’s road information.