Geographic Information Management in Local Government - Chapter 16 ppsx

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CHAPTER 16 Case Study — London Borough of Harrow LONDON BOROUGH OF HARROW AT A GLANCE Key Facts Local authority name: London Borough of Harrow Local authority type: London borough Population: 220,000 Current state of operation of GIS: Multi-supplier/Authority-wide GIS Main GIS products in use: GGP (17 licenses); SIA DataMap (10 licenses); MapInfo (3 licenses); ArcView (2 licenses); Map Shore — bundled in with SASPAC census package (1 license) Applications: Map production, drug misuse, crime analysis, deprivation indicators, education admissions, National Street Gazetteer, property, planning applications, and land charges Land and Property Gazetteer status: Existing Ocella gazetteer (not BS7666-compliant) GIM/GIS strategy status: None Forum for steering GIS: None Staffing for GIS: No formal support for GIS within the council. Informal support from GIS development officer in chief executive’s policy unit whose focus is on commu- nity safety Contact details: GIS development officer (telephone 020 8424 1545) What Makes London Borough of Harrow Distinctive? London Borough of Harrow is an excellent example of an authority that has achieved considerable success in the use of GIS, despite being handicapped by the lack of a corporate approach, steering group, overall strategy, and associated budget. It has adopted a bottom-up approach to implementing GIS, which has been driven by the burning political issues of drug misuse and crime and disorder. This has encouraged data sharing in partnership with external organizations such as the police, probation service, and health authority. ©2004 by CRC Press LLC Key Stages in the Implementation of GIS Stage 1 (1989 to 1995) — Engineer’s, architecture, and planning departments purchase three GGP licenses that are used for map production purposes. Stage 2 (1996 to 1997) — Expansion of availability of GGP to other council departments (further ten licenses). Stage 3 (1998) — Links from GGP to planning and land charges systems created. Chief executive’s department starts to use GIS for community safety, emergency planning, and insurance and risk management. Stage 4 (1999 to 2002) — GIS development officer post created in chief executive’s policy unit to support work on drugs misuse and crime and disorder. Extensive information sharing and analysis in partnership with other organizations provides recognition of the value of GIS and generates ongoing commitment. Positive Drivers and Success Factors for GIS • Support of the Drugs Action Team (DAT) and creation of a local substance misuse database • Legislation relating to Crime and Disorder Act and National Street Gazetteer • Visual impact of maps displaying overlapping datasets (e.g., crime and deprivation) • Good will of users • Successful home office bid (CCTV and burglary reduction) • Enthusiasm developed through wide distribution of GIS Harrow newsletter Problems that Threatened Success • Lack of GIS/GIM strategy • Lack of budget • No real corporate client • No organization for steering and managing GIS Practical Benefits from GIS • More efficient and effective ways of working • Closer collaboration of departments and external organizations on crime and dis- order issues • Recognition within the council, in the local press, and in professional publications 16.1 WHY WAS LONDON BOROUGH OF HARROW CHOSEN AS A CASE STUDY? While some authorities have been able to implement GIS corporately from the top down, putting into place their strategic vision in a planned step-by-step manner, many authorities have not had this comparative luxury. London Borough of Harrow is an example of an authority that has implemented GIS by stealth. It has used the burning political issues of drug misuse and crime and disorder to demonstrate the role that GI can play in enabling the local authority and external partners such as the police, probation service, and health authority to assess the severity and distri- ©2004 by CRC Press LLC bution of problems as the basis for developing programs of action. Those that have been able to adopt a corporate approach have tended to focus on the technology and associated spatial data, with implementation projects prioritized so as to demonstrate the business benefits and gain commitment. Harrow’s approach is the reverse: It starts with the political issues of importance to the authority and innocuously puts together the technology and spatial information from which greater insight into the problems, and debate with its partners on collaborative actions, have emerged. Harrow has also demonstrated by example how data sharing can be practically encouraged with external organizations with which the council needs to collaborate. Local authorities without a strong corporate tradition should look closely at how Harrow has achieved recognition of the value of GIS. They should review the hot issues that currently consume the attention of their councilors, senior managers, external pressure groups, and the media, and consider whether these can be used as the basis on which GIS can “cut its teeth.” 16.2 THE BACKGROUND — WHAT HAS LONDON BOROUGH OF HARROW DONE? London Borough of Harrow is an example of the implementation of a multi- supplier/authority-wide GIS, using the terminology that we introduced in Chapter 8. While many of the departments of the council are using GIS, it is without the framework of an explicit corporate approach. Five different GIS software products are in use across the authority: • GGP (17 licenses — used by about 80 people), which is the most predominantly used GIS software and which equates, by default, to being the corporate product, having been used since 1989. However, there is no single-supplier corporate policy restricting departments to use GGP, and departments are able to choose whatever GIS they consider most suitable for their specific purpose. GGP is used widely for map production, storage of user overlays of information, and also provides a “front end” to the Ocella planning and land charges systems. • SIA DataMap (10 licenses), which is used for education admissions. • MapInfo (3 licenses), which has been used by the chief executive’s policy unit since 1999 for crime and census analysis (in conjunction with GGP within which much historical data and data of other departments is stored). • ArcView (2 licenses) for National Street Gazetteer. • Map Shore (1 license) for map display of census data (bundled within the SASPAC 1991 Census package). Development and implementation of GIS has taken place over four major stages: Stage 1 (1989 to 1995) — The engineer’s, architecture, and planning departments purchased GGP (3 licenses) that were used for map production purposes. Stage 2 (1996 to 1997) — The use of GGP was expanded to all council departments (further 10 licenses) for map production purposes. Stage 3 (1998) — Links from GGP to Ocella’s planning and land charges systems were implemented, and the use of GGP for overlay creation and spatial analysis ©2004 by CRC Press LLC began to expand. As GIS skills and staff resources were limited, the chief execu- tive’s policy unit employed a student placement from University of Hertfordshire to develop the use of GGP for community safety, emergency planning, and insur- ance and risk management. As a result of collaboration with the police, the policy unit received detailed crime data, which was cleaned and depersonalized for use within the authority, using the Omnidata package. Stage 4 (1999 to 2002) — In order to respond to the requirements of the Crime and Disorder Act, 1998, the post of GIS development officer was created in the chief executive’s policy unit. Three MapInfo licenses were purchased to support the mapping and analysis of interagency data (particularly from the police, probation service, and health authority). Extensive analyses were undertaken (both in GGP and MapInfo) to support the work of the DAT (Drugs Action Team — see Section 16.3), and provided recognition of the value of GIS, generating ongoing commit- ment for collaboration. Use of the Ocella property database has enabled standardization of the definition of “land and property units” within the planning and land charges systems. The database is not BS7666-compliant, and the council does not currently have any firm plans for upgrading or replacing it. 16.3 WHAT ORGANIZATION HAS IT SET UP? The London Borough of Harrow does not have a forum for steering the devel- opment, implementation, and operation of GIS at a corporate level. In the absence of a strong corporate approach, priorities and standards for GIS are decided by users on an ad hoc basis or within the context of working groups that are set up for specific projects. One very important example of a working group that has acted as a catalyst for the recognition of the potential of GIS is the Harrow DAT (Drugs Action Team) Information Group that was established in February 1998 as a strategic partnership. The group was charged with developing and maintaining a local substance misuse database, as required by the white paper Tackling Drugs Together, with the objective of assessing the nature and scale of local drug problems in Harrow. This remit was subsequently extended (see Box 16.1) to encompass the information requirements of the new Crime and Disorder Act, 1998. The information group has documented B OX 16.1 Objectives of the Harrow DAT Information Group 1. To geographically describe the main crime and substance misuse problems in Harrow 2. To enable all partners to use the geographical representation of data to supplement their existing knowledge and expertise 3. To provide a resource where everyone involved can look at the data in the same format 4. To enable problems and solutions to be defined more easily 5. To aid in the allocation of resources 6. To set up regular, systematic analysis of chosen datasets and distribute this information to relevant groups and agencies as appropriate Source: From Corporate Policy Support Unit, London Borough of Harrow, 2000. ©2004 by CRC Press LLC a formal data sharing protocol that sets out the principles, procedures, and security arrangements that must be followed when data is shared between the partnership organizations. In this group, the partners collaborate on an ongoing basis to bring together and analyze data from the local authorities. Police, probation, and the health service (see Figure 16.1) have become the prime showcases for GIS within Harrow. There is no formal support for GIS within the council. Limited informal support is provided by the GIS development officer and assistant (within the chief executive’s policy unit) though their focus is upon community safety. 16.4 WHAT DOES LONDON BOROUGH OF HARROW PLAN TO DO IN THE FUTURE? In the future, investment in GIS is likely to move away from GGP toward use of MapInfo as the preferred product, in view of the wide range of applications available for this product and its popularity among the strategic partners. In the future the DAT Information Group will be concentrating upon: • Developing a virtual library of data available from the strategic partners, starting with a metadata catalogue. • Improving the analysis capabilities of the strategic partners. While the datasets are mostly “skeletal” with only prototype mapping capabilities available initially, the aim is to enable skilled staff to respond more rapidly to ad hoc requests for analysis (e.g., analysis of police and CCTV data for crime reduction purposes). Figure 16.1 Making technology work. (Source: From London Borough of Harrow.) ©2004 by CRC Press LLC • Expanding the ability to undertake cross-border analysis for possibly the first time in London. Harrow is in a prime position to be able to understand what affects the travel plans of criminals and the characteristics of victims and to contribute to law enforcement and crime prevention operations across administrative boundaries. • Developing a “crime calendar” that allows investigation into the timing of criminal activity and antisocial behavior, including the effects of weather, public events, and police operations. 16.5 WHAT WERE THE POSITIVE DRIVERS AND SUCCESS FACTORS FOR GIS? GIS has been in use in a low-key way in the London Borough of Harrow since the introduction of GGP in 1989. It has provided the means to produce maps and record simple overlay information but with little wider recognition. It is only recently that GIS has really taken off and the positive drivers for this have all arisen through legislation imposed on the authority: • Establishment of the Drugs Action Team (DAT) and supporting DAT Information Group, following publication of the white paper Tackling Drugs Together • Crime and Disorder Act, 1998, and consequent widening of the role of DAT • Incorporation of data relating to Harrow’s highway network within the National Street Gazetteer from 1995 The critical success factors that have ensured that the GIS have now been recognized as significant aids to decision making are: • The visual impact of maps to support the work on crime and disorder relating to individual themes (e.g., census data; DETR Index of Deprivation data) and to overlapping datasets (e.g., crime data overlaid with school exclusions, deprivation data, London Ambulance Service call outs, and drugs and alcohol treatment) • A successful bid for home office funds (for CCTV and burglary initiative) based on GIS • The good will of users and IT at all stages • The GIS Harrow newsletter (begun in February 2000), which has developed enthusiasm • The practical demonstration, by example, of what GIS can do 16.6 WHAT WERE THE NEGATIVE FACTORS THAT THREATENED SUCCESS? While the authority has used the strength of interest in crime and disorder to demonstrate the value of GIS, its achievements are remarkable in the absence of an overall corporate approach. These negative factors have not made success easy and include: ©2004 by CRC Press LLC • The absence of a corporate steering group for GIS/GIM • The lack of a GIS/GIM strategy • The lack of an associated corporate budget • No corporate client or interdepartmental sponsor for GIS This has meant that implementation of GIS has proceeded departmentally or on a project basis (of which the Crime and Disorder Act is the outstanding example of success). But some of the benefits of working within the framework of a corporate approach will have been forgone — e.g., lack of data standards across the authority, making the interchange of data difficult at a land and property unit level. 16.7 WHAT HAVE BEEN THE PRACTICAL BENEFITS? The most important practical benefits from GIS have been: • More efficient and effective ways of working, e.g., processing of planning appli- cations and land charges searches • Closer collaboration of departments and external organizations on crime and disorder issues • Recognition within the council, local press, and professional publications for the imaginative use of spatial information in a way that is highly relevant for analyzing and tackling social issues 16.8 WHAT ARE THE LESSONS FOR OTHERS? Many local authorities lack a strong corporate approach, and frequently this has hindered the successful implementation of GIS. But the Harrow case study shows that it is possible to overcome this potential handicap and start to build commitment for GIS by: • Identifying the burning political issues that are consuming the time of councilors and senior officers (most of which are spatial) and focusing on these in order to show what GIS can deliver • Working in partnership with other departments and organizations to encourage data sharing, thereby obtaining fresh insight by access to new information about problems of common concern This approach gains maximum impact by aligning GIS with the issues that matter. It is an approach that those attempting to implement GIS without a corporate framework should seek to emulate. Once GIS has gained a foothold, the emphasis should be redirected toward creating the corporate vision. ©2004 by CRC Press LLC . Recognition within the council, local press, and professional publications for the imaginative use of spatial information in a way that is highly relevant for analyzing and tackling social issues 16. 8 WHAT. Act, 1998. The information group has documented B OX 16. 1 Objectives of the Harrow DAT Information Group 1. To geographically describe the main crime and substance misuse problems in Harrow 2 operations across administrative boundaries. • Developing a “crime calendar” that allows investigation into the timing of criminal activity and antisocial behavior, including the effects of weather,
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