Our Product Manager Dan Saunders shares his thoughts on attending the recent PSMA events.
I have been lucky enough to attend four great regional PSMA events over the past two weeks in Cardiff, Exeter, Leeds and Birmingham, meeting around 150 mapping professionals from the emergency services, central government and local government. It has been great having the opportunity to speak directly with these professionals and hearing how they’re consuming Ordnance Survey data as well as to see how our existing customers are getting on. During these regional events, we kept hearing a few common themes which I thought I’d blog about to see if others have similar issues:
More people are seeing the benefit in maps
The demand for mapping seems to be higher than ever and I kept hearing how different departments are looking to gain intelligence from mapping data. Increasingly maps are being consumed by different applications, not just your general GIS package but also in CRM systems and business intelligence solutions. We have examples where our TRACC software is being used to help gather information for closure of NHS sites, improving fitness and wellbeing and helping to support local growth strategies. These all demonstrate the applicability of maps outside the traditional transport planning/GI remit of our users.
GIS “teams” look different
I have also noticed that there is more appetite for mapping in the public sector with many delegates commenting how they’re getting an increasing number of requests to involve mapping in a project., It does seem, however that there is an issue with bandwidth of staff due to budgetary constraints with many teams being cut from 4 to 1 person, or valuable members of staff leaving and not being replaced. Something I heard by more than one person is that the GIS applications now sit centrally within an IT department, where many people are unable to access or use these applications.
Information is “Siloed”
The amount of times I spoke with people at the PSMA events who did not even know they were our customers was astounding. As many of our existing users sit outside to the “GIS team” there are multiple authorities that are our clients without even knowing it. The same though can be said the other way, as many users are unaware of the latest datasets being released, or changes to delivery of the data. In turn this is making users jobs more difficult as they neither know about the tools available to them, or the data they can utilise.
What can be improved
In my view, the major change needed is communication as some Departments can forget that they have access to a wealth of information, software and data internally. Examples of good practice I heard about were councils running internal meetings where they invite multiple departments together for sharing of ideas. With people trying to do more with less this type of collaboration might seem like a waste of time, but getting key people in the room to share ideas and make introductions can only have a positive long-term effect. Staffordshire County council have been successful in doing this, where a collaboration between two departments managed to save tens of thousands of pounds and managed to have a 27% increase in active travel. Have you ever thought about running an internal GIS day at your organisation?
We have one final event in the PSMA calendar, London on the 2nd November, so I’m looking forward to seeing you all there.