Mapping street furniture and assets, linking address location information between systems, managing the local development framework and assessing building heat loss with thermal imagery – Southwark Council exploits the potential of geographic information in many different ways.
Contractors working for Southwark Council will typically need the most recent data when responding to tenders or gauging specific project requirements. Unfortunately, the task of accessing and sharing the data has not been straightforward.
‘We would have to spend time filling out the necessary details on licensing forms’, says Stuart Carter, Southwark Council’s Corporate GIS Manager and Ordnance Survey liaison officer. ‘This would mean taking a copy of a template form, putting in the details of the company, sending it out and then waiting for and noting the response. There would have been several emails between the council and the client contacts before we even got to that point. Then we would have to discuss data formats. In my experience, the request is always for something bespoke, a particular area in a particular format. We would have to spend time chopping up data into certain formats. Typically, we would have to use a desktop GIS and output the data in the format the contractor needs. We’d then have to put it onto DVD and send it out in the post. All of that does take a long time and often frustrates the contractor.’
Contractor Link has been created by emapsite, a Premier Partner of Ordnance Survey, in response to exactly the kind of issues Southwark Council was facing.
It is a unique self-service mapping portal for contractors – controlled and administered by the PSMA signatory – that enables the seamless distribution of Ordnance Survey data to the contractor.
The service is easy to use and costs the local authority nothing. The contractor initiates the process, sets up a project request to the council online, selects the PSMA data and area required and submits a request. emapsite then notifies the local authority and informs the relevant custodian. On approval, Contractor Link readies the data for download in the chosen format and publishes the completed subcontractor terms for both parties. emapsite then notifies the contractor that they can download the data and the local authority that they have done so.
Stuart, who worked with emapsite to road-test the functionality of the service, says ‘I can go into Contractor Link’s online dashboard and see straight away who has downloaded what data and when, and the Ordnance Survey licence form that applies to it. I have clear sight of an audit trail and I know that when the project is over, the contractor’s access stops too. Before, we would have manually compiled all of that information into a spreadsheet. Now I point large contractors and even smaller ones to Contractor Link. I am also finding that requests are coming through to me on Contractor Link that I didn’t initiate. This is great as it means awareness is spreading among contractors and their client contacts elsewhere in the council.’
Contractor Link is also easing Southwark Council’s burden of having to meet diverse data and format requests. It is backed by the most up-to-date OS MasterMap® data and enables extracts in any format the contractor wants.
‘Being able to offer different data formats is a huge advantage’, says Stuart, ‘we tend to process our two monthly refreshes of OS MasterMap using MapInfo® Tab files. We do have DWG® for AutoCAD® but we don’t claim expertise in CAD. With Contractor Link, the AutoCAD user can be more specific about the area they need and have the latest data in CAD format straight away. This takes a lot of pressure off us to give CAD users the correct data.’
- Free to local authorities.
- No administration, no hassle.
- Saves on processing overheads and paperwork.
- Assures 100% compliance with subcontractor terms.
- No more need to physically distribute data.
- Complete audit trail.
- Ensures contractors have the most up-to-date data for project work and in any format.
- Joined-up process.
- Supported by Ordnance Survey.