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  • Development time from start to finish for the first version was just six months, with an anticipated cost over the next four years of about £30-£35,000 – a very significant saving to the taxpayer.

    Jonathan Moules, GIS Analyst Programmer, Warwickshire CC

Adopting an open-source solution for the council’s internal web geographical information system (GIS) has provided flexibility and ease of use of Ordnance Survey products and council information. Immediate cost savings have been achieved and the longer-term benefit is a sustainable web GIS that the council has control over.

The challenge

Warwickshire County Council’s web GIS is an integral tool, supporting around 100 users to deliver council services, across a number of departments. The Highways Department, a principle user of the current web GIS, found it did not meet their specific needs. With performance issues proving costly and the need to future-proof their web GIS for new browser versions and products, a decision was made to create in a new web GIS. The big challenge for the council was to reduce their licence and maintenance costs whilst increasing their user base.

The solution

The council created their own web GIS and open-source software was used, as it is compatible with Ordnance Survey products. A number of different open-source tools have been employed; including Heron and GeoServer. A basic and an advanced version of the web GIS were produced. Many Ordnance Survey products have been included, such as OS VectorMap Local Colour Raster, to enable council layers to be overlaid. These layers can be switched on and off and made available to only those departments that need them. The web GIS has a consistently-themed zoomable map for all scales: 1:10 000 000 to 1:250 000 scale, using a combination of OS OpenData products, OS VectorMap Local and OS MasterMap Topography Layer.

Now the GIS team are able to make ‘projects’ for specific department needs, such as the Highways Department, which requires special tools to highlight roads and colour them differently. The team currently use OS MasterMap Topography Layer for planning road closures and identifying properties with defects so they need to highlight certain roads and routes. Council information such as bus stops and gritting routes are also used in conjunction with mapping.

The Highways Department is the biggest user of the new web GIS. However, there are other teams that are making use of the new web GIS and more to follow, such as the Education team, the Fire Service, Community Safety and Fraud, all at no extra cost to the council. Furthermore, the council use Local Land and Property Gazetteers (LLPG) for address data, but its new web GIS will integrate with AddressBase Premium.

The benefits

  • An estimated cost reduction of over 65% in licence and maintenance costs over the next four years, compared to the previous four years.
  • More departments and users are able to access Ordnance Survey data under the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA); it is estimated that there will be 100% more users in the next year.
  • Ordnance Survey products’ compatibility with open-source software has enabled a future-proof web mapping solution for the council to access Ordnance Survey data, with better control over fixing of performance issues.
  • Up-front saving of £15–£20,000 by developing an in-house system compared to the time taken to procure commercial software.
  • The system can easily create new versions, such as a general public version and a district\parish council version for a wider use of PSMA products and council data, both of which are planned for the future.
  • The products used

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