Investing in a geographical information system (GIS) is enabling award-winning Thames Valley Housing (TVH) to save £200 000 in grounds maintenance costs each year – without impacting on its quality of service. This equates to a total saving of £2 million over a typical 10 year maintenance contract.
TVH manages 14 000 homes in small, densely-developed schemes spread across South East England. These cost more to maintain than large estate-based properties, resulting in an annual grounds maintenance bill of around £1.6 million. A previous tender exercise had already revealed gaps in information about TVH’s schemes, in particular the extent and precise boundaries of land for which it was responsible, as well as whether this land was grass, hard-standing, planted or mulched beds. Leaving tenderers to collect this data was costly and led to delays in getting prices to provide quotes for service charges for new tenants. With no agreed or transparent pricing mechanism in place, it was very difficult for TVH to establish whether it was getting value for money, challenge estimates or benchmark its costs.
OS MasterMap® Topography Layer is used by TVH in the Spatial Information System® (SIS) by Cadcorp® to provide accurate, up-to-date map records of its holdings without staff needing any prior expertise in GIS. The system is mainly used to automatically generate estimates of the extent and type of land cover for each scheme, but also manages the mapping against which these measurements are made.
OS MasterMap Topography Layer contains more than 400 million individual features, including individual buildings. When overlaid with Title Plans from HM Land Registry®, it is used to identify the extent of TVH’s maintenance responsibilities. In addition, information contained in the GIS is being used to tailor the frequency of maintenance services to individual housing schemes to meet the needs of local residents and provide them with clear information about costs. The cost of providing grounds maintenance on new developments can now also be assessed at design stage, allowing future service charges to be estimated and shared with prospective residents.
The GIS has enabled TVH to create and manage its own ground maintenance map layers, putting it in control of its spatial information, rather than relying on service providers. In less than a year TVH staff have mapped almost 400 schemes to create a comprehensive information library.
- Enables a professional approach to procurement and management to ensure value for money.
- Puts TVH in control of its own data, allowing it to quickly and confidently challenge service provider estimates.
- Provides comprehensive mapping and pricing information, enabling services to be tailored to individual scheme requirements.
- Provides residents with clear, consistent and transparent costs for services. Facilitates forward planning by enabling the cost implications of grounds maintenance to be assessed at design stage.
- Improves customer service by enabling faster responses to tenant enquiries about service costs.
Return on investment
‘We are making annual savings of about £200 000 on a bundle of grounds maintenance services that would previously have cost us £900 000 annually. That is a total saving of £2 million over a ten year contract period. I can’t be precise about the contribution of GIS, however, it seems to me that the bulk of these savings are directly attributable to TVH being better informed and that is down to the use of Cadcorp SIS and Ordnance Survey’s mapping and other data it manages.’
Niall O’Rourke, Assistant Director of Property and Asset Management