The A-Z Digital Team appreciates the feedback from our clients and in this guest blog the wonderful Tracy Lister (Geospatial Support and Development Manager) at Walsall MBC discusses how our map data is used for engineering, road and traffic purposes as well as assisting in the analysis of spatial information helping to make budgetary decisions.
About me and my role
I have been working with GIS at Walsall MBC for over 27 years. I first started working in a traditional drawing office using paper plans and Rotring pens. With the introduction of AutoCad and other digital software for producing maps, the team had to be brought into the 21st Century! We moved towards a modern extension of traditional cartography and a MapInfo professional licence was purchased and received with much fear and apprehension by the Draughting Team. This was our first taste of digital mapping at Walsall Council. Now with over 75 MapInfo licences and web based mapping solutions from Astun Technologies Ishare, used by over 1000+ staff we can’t even imagine how business would be carried out without GIS.
My role is to oversee and manage the use of the GIS systems at Walsall and all data that is displayed within them. I have the responsibility for licensing and data policing as well as being the Ordnance Survey Authority Liaison officer. I deal with enquiries relating to data usage, sharing and security. My post is situated in ICT within the Applications Support and Development Team which is an ideal environment for future exploitation and development of GIS.
A-Z Map Data
Geographers’ A-Z Map Company does a phenomenal job using cartography, colour and design to create a dataset that’s extremely clean and structured for the display of Walsall’s ever changing business data.
A-Z Maps have been a stable part of the operations at Walsall Council for many years. When I first took up employment at Walsall MBC, A-Z paper plans produced from dyeline printing were used with various media methods applying colour and reference to personalise the map.
Over the years, with the introduction of GIS mapping, A-Z map data has been incorporated into the corporate GIS system and made available through desktop GIS and web-based applications. This dataset is invaluable when referencing street data for engineering purposes, road classifications, traffic sensitivity, bridge locations and route planning, to name but a few of the reasons, but the choice is always A-Z map data because of its superior clarity, labelling and cartographic design making it perfect for presentation.
A snippet of A-Z Street data being used to show road classifications and restrictions as well as bridge ownership
With increasing budgetary constraints that local authorities are facing, A-Z map data is still the base map of choice to enable informed decision-making at senior level. Used to display spatial data of services as part of the council’s budget setting process provides a visual representation of the location of services and assets and the potential impact of any proposals on specific areas and communities. This is essential in understanding the potential cumulative impact of proposals being made by individual services in an area and also can identify potential opportunities for future service delivery e.g. inform agreement regarding the shared use of a location by different services and partner. The ability to use A-Z data in GIS enables us to create buffers around business point data so we are able to identify if another service within that buffer could deliver the same service of the closed one.
The Highways team particularly like the A-Z base mapping as this is a clear picture of the borough-wide road network. The Highways Engineers are required to do presentations at regional level regarding investment into Highway Maintenance, draining projects, water courses and flooding. The A-Z gives a borough-wide view to display the completed and outstanding schemes, coupled with the more detailed view if you zoom into O/S MasterMap Data, they can quickly deliver the message to the target audience.
A-Z Street data makes for great smaller scale presentation with road names and principal routes clearly visible.
These are only a couple of examples of the use of A-Z but the list is endless and there will always be a requirement for this level of mapping.