GIS tech to help the challenges posed by population growth

At Esri UK’s annual conference today, which had 3,000 delegates in attendance, GIS professionals were called on to help build a smarter world, in the context of massive population growth challenges facing the UK.

There were talks from a number of Esri UK customers such as the National Trust, Comic Relief and Land Use Consultants – all of who were demonstrating how GIS technology is helping them cope with the challenges they face whether this is biodiversity, housing development, flooding incident management, or charity fundraising.

Stuart Bonthrone, managing director of Esri UK, said “The UK’s steadily growing population is creating challenges that affect us all. There is the urgent need to build more homes and schools for young families, expand our healthcare services to meet the needs of our aging population, improve our transportation infrastructure and increase food production.”

>See also: GIS: a move towards gender neutrality in IT

“Yet, at the same time, we need to preserve our natural landscape, protect wildlife habitats and ensure public safety in an ever-changing context of risks ranging from flooding to terrorism. The challenges are getting tougher. So the solutions need to get smarter.”

In a snippet from the conference, various Esri customers discussed how GIS technology is changing business attitudes and impacting social problems.

Comic Relief is using the technology to enhance fundraising

Zenon Hannick, CTO of Comic Relief, said: “Comic Relief has historically come from a broadcast mentality and, while TV today still represents a vital moment in time for us, we view our approach as facilitating conversations across new platforms rather than solely being set to ‘broadcast’.”

“We now focus on connecting with and engaging communities at a local level, which is something that we have not been able to do before. Working with Esri’s ArcGIS platform gives us the ability to visualise data that we are able to make informed decisions and create relevant, engaging content because it is tailored and locally relevant.”

>See also: 5 steps to digital transformation using GIS

“If you consider that you are likely to be within 30 miles of a Comic Relief funded project, you can understand how far more compelling it is to engage with local people through geo-targeting around a locally funded project. The result is better awareness, better fund raising and vitally better understanding of how raised funds actually make a difference to people’s own local communities.”

GIS technology is changing the mindset of the CTO

“Every CTO and IT team must be working to ensure the time and money they are spending is adding value to their organisation,” continued Hannick.

“To do that the IT team must lead an attitude and mindset internally to be more iterative and experimental and include agile feedback loops to deliver quick insight to enable faster and more informed decision making. Data is the key and being able to visualise it for fast analysis is critical. Put simply, organisations must be ‘data enabled.’“

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GIS is helping geography teachers teach GIS professionals of the future

Dr. Rita Gardner, director of the Royal Geographic Society said: “In reflecting GIS’s application to real world contexts, Esri Geo-Mentors demonstrate the added-value of GIS to many leading businesses and organisations, whilst also helping geography teachers with the practical use of this technology.”

GIS to help prevent the further decline in biodiversity in the UK

Huw Davies, head of conservation information at National Trust, elaborated that “60% of species in the UK have decreased in number over the last 50 years and, as a major British landowner, we are helping to reverse this catastrophic decline in biodiversity. We are using ArcGIS to identify threatened habitats, implement conservation schemes and monitor the success of wide-ranging initiatives to create thriving natural environments.”

>See also: An introduction to GIS use cases

GIS technology to better plan new housing

“GIS technology, such as ArcGIS, is instrumental in the planning of new housing developments,” championed Edith Lendak, principle GIS consultant at Land Use Consultants.

“LUC has helped the Central Bedfordshire Council meet its need for new homes in the area, and through using ArcGIS we have reduced the time required to evaluate appropriate development sites by 33 working days.”


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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