Using GIS technology to add value to our service

3 June 2015 | 3 June 2015

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This week, I have been speaking at the UK’s largest GIS conference in London, explaining how Sovereign’s use of GIS mapping software is transforming the way we do business, improving our customer service and strategic decision-making.

GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems and for Sovereign it’s about using computer software to record our assets and help us understand how geography plays a part in our business.

Twelve months ago we started a project to roll out a GIS internally for our staff and it’s already proving to be a huge success – both internally in the way our staff have embraced the system, but also externally; we were ‘Highly Commended’ in the Best Use of the ArcGIS Platform customer success award alongside the likes of Thames Water and Transport for London, showing that we are in the vanguard in our enterprise-wide use of GIS technology.

esri uk conference photogrpahy 2015The conference was a gathering of like-minded souls, all eager to learn how the technological boundaries of GIS are being pushed back and used in various businesses.

I had a subtly different message for the conference; at Sovereign we are not trying to break new technological ground with our GIS mapping system. Rather, as my presentation explained, we are aiming to democratise it.

We launched our very own Enterprise GIS, SEMS –Sovereign Electronic Mapping System – on 19 November 2014, to coincide with International GIS day and since then we have trained 500 Sovereign employees – half our workforce

Frontline staff now have the ability to answer in seconds questions from residents that used to take weeks. Our staff can see where all our properties are, all the land we own and what land we are responsible for maintaining.

It may not sound like much but it is really effective, helping us deliver better service to our customers and saving us a significant amount of time.

We’re also using SEMS strategically; we’ve used SEMS to identify properties at risk of flooding so that we can be better prepared and so that we can work with our residents to minimise the impact of future flood events.

We’re working with our local authority partners – who have been given access to parts of SEMS – and working out who owns what land and how we might work together to create development opportunities or carry out estate improvement projects.

And we’ve even been using SEMS to look at our external assets and have enabled the wider business to generate over £400,000 in savings, revenue generation and efficiency improvements.

In a very short space of time, GIS has become a vital tool for our employees. We have a better understanding of our operating area, which supports our growth strategy; we better understand our residents, the communities in which they live, and the impact of government policies on them, so we can improve our services to them; and more generally it has made us a more efficient business, so ultimately we can invest more in new homes.

It was a delight to represent Sovereign at the GIS conference and I hope we’ll be back there in the years to come to demonstrate how we’ve used SEMS to continue adding social value to the business.

Andy Bradley, GIS Manager