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Energy Saving Trust, a social enterprise that promotes energy efficiency, has been able to open up useful geospatial data to more business users by using GIS mapping software from Esri.

Energy Saving Trust, a social enterprise that promotes energy efficiency, has been able to open up useful geospatial data to more business users by using GIS mapping software from Esri.

The organisation collects a large range of data, such as wind speeds and roof orientation of houses, which it provides to energy suppliers, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)  and local authorities to help them deliver energy efficiency schemes. It has been using Esri to present the data in a more user-friendly format.

“There’s a real disconnect between database managers and people who need the data. Some of it is data literacy,” said Will Rivers, data insight manager at Energy Saving Trust.

“The geospatial element brings the data to life for more people. It makes it more intuitive and user friendly.”

As well as to present the data, Energy Saving Trust used Esri’s GIS software to create the data in the first place. For example, it developed algorithms that allowed it to pull out garden size and roof orientation data about houses to help people understand where best to use solar panels.

“You’d think the big energy suppliers would have a lot of data on the housing stock. They didn’t, and what they did have didn’t get to the people on the ground,” Rivers said.

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“So we tried to do two things. One was to develop these data sets, and then we developed a GIS portal that enables users to analyse that data in a spatial way, rather than looking at spreadsheets. The portal is an interactive filter of the map.”

Energy Saving Trust uses Esri Maps for IBM Cognos which sits on SQL databases. It uses IBM Cognos as the business intelligence (BI) software to interrogate the data.

In the past, Rivers said, the way it and local authorities used GIS was “quite static”. It started using the basic functions of Esri in 2010, mainly as a presentation tool.

“[Now] we can use the map as a real analytics tool rather than just a presentational tool,” he said.

Other organisations that use GIS software to make geospatial data more useful to business users include the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which used Esri and open source tools to create a single source of statistical data that can be easily accessed by staff and the public.