Aylesbury: December 3rd 2014 – Sovereign Housing Association, one of the largest housing associations in the south and south west of England, has teamed up with Esri UK to support its business transformation programme.
The housing group, which currently manages and maintains more than 38,000 homes across the region, is planning to grow to 50,000 homes by 2018, and sees GIS (geographic information systems) as a crucial tool to help deliver this growth.
Sovereign has successfully used GIS for a number of years but confined its use to basic geographic data. The company’s vision is to build an advanced enterprise-wide GIS system that will provide a single point of access to vast amounts of data, accessible to all staff. This will support both operational and development strategies while enabling staff to provide tenants with improved services.
The three-phase development programme started in September 2014; and Phase 1 is due to go live to the wider business in November 2014. Sovereign anticipates that by mapping all its assets and sharing this data with all employees, they will gain greater insight into key operational issues such as stock condition, rent arrears and occupancy levels.
Sovereign is already using Esri UK’s GIS software in an innovative pilot to identify areas of adjoining Sovereign and Local Authority land which would be most suitable to build homes on. As part of Phase 1, more than 500 staff from Housing Management, Property Services, Service Charge and Grounds Maintenance teams will be trained to use the mapping software.
Sovereign is expecting GIS to be useful for other areas where analysing geographic patterns will help staff deliver a better service to residents. These include gaining an improved understanding of how employment patterns, earnings levels and benefit changes affect residents, while plotting the results of Sovereign’s customer satisfaction survey is expected to reveal issues at a local level, rather than remaining hidden in large amounts of spreadsheet data.
Sovereign is also keen to look at how the software can help it with flood risk analysis, by mapping every property against advanced flood data from the Environment Agency and other sources.
It is hoped that in the long-term, this information will result in reduced insurance premiums and help Sovereign to prioritise which residents need help first in the event of a flood.
“Our priority is to build a new web GIS that will provide the foundation to help make better and more timely business decisions,” commented Andy Bradley, GIS Manager at Sovereign.
Once Phase 1 is complete, Bradley and his team will focus on improved delivery of data on multiple devices, including smartphones and tablets, so employees can make real-time updates in the field. External-facing web maps for tenants will also be explored as a way of supporting further improvements in customer services.
“We have a reputation for being one of the most innovative housing associations in the UK,” concluded Bradley. “Using GIS to help make business decisions further reinforces this, saving the company both time and money while demonstrating best practice to our colleagues across the industry.”