Sport England streams map data to make intelligent funding decisions

Sport England revealed that using a map streaming service from Esri has opened up access to new data that helps the government body make better investment decisions.


Sport England revealed that using a map streaming service from Esri has opened up access to new data that helps the government body make better investment decisions.

The organisation, which reports to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), is responsible for increasing the number of people playing sport regularly. It uses a range of data to help it decide where to allocate funding to boost the take-up of sport.

“We provide a number of datasets and solutions or websites for both the organisation and our partners to analyse data, and build up an evidence base and business case when they apply to us for funding. Or when we make decisions, to know where to target our investments,” Sport England’s GIS manager Mark Critchley told ComputerworldUK at mapping software provider Esri’s annual conference in London.

The datasets Sport England use include its own data, around sports facilities and levels of participation, and sports market segmentation data, which helps it understand attitudes to sport.

“By knowing supply and demand helps us to understand where we need to target our investments,” said Critchley.

All of Sport England’s data is complemented by third-party data, such as Ordnance Survey map data or Office for National Statistics (ONS) data.

Prior to using the Esri map streaming service, third-party data was sent to Sport England either on CDs or by FTP (File Transfer Protocol). The organisation had to then process the data, convert it, load it into its systems, all while trying to reduce any disruption to its services. This was a time-consuming task for Sport England’s IT team, which wanted to focus more on providing core services.

Sport England has been working with Esri for 10 years, but two years ago, it started to use Esri’s map data streaming service. Esri receives the data from third-party providers and compiles it in a way that Sport England can access it easily.

“Esri provides a service-based approach to accessing data to significantly reduce our time to manage third-party data,” said Critchley.

“Now, all those [data processing] tasks are done by the third-party data provider. They update the data and ensure the performance. In the past, Ordance Survey would send CD after CD. Now, we just subscribe via a URL to access those maps. Like Spotify or Netflix, but for maps,” he explained.

“We’re streaming that data rather than storing and managing it ourselves, which reduces our costs, software licensing and reduces man hours to manage and process that data.”

In addition, the service gives the organisation access to data it could not have managed before, such as the Ordnance Survey master map, which is the most detailed, comprehensive map available, but is very difficult to manage because of its size, according to Critchley.

Sport England is on the lowest annual subscription level, which allows around four million views of data for over 1,000 external users.

It runs Esri’s ArcGIS for Server and ArcGIS for Desktop, both version 10.2.1, on physical HP Proliant DL360 G6 servers and virtual VMWare vSphere 5 with Netapp storage servers. Other systems the organisation uses include Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 64x Enterprise edition, as well as SQL 2008 R2 Enterprise edition, Sharepoint 2007 and 2010.

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