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Surrey Heath Borough Council Project ‘So Successful’ They Expand GIS Use


Capturing grounds maintenance data could be considered one of the bread and butter activities for a local authority GIS team. Counting park benches, identifying dog waste bins and mapping the access points of parks in the borough is all in a day’s work. Some of the data Surrey Heath have been using the equipment to measure includes, how many and where the park benches are situated, access points to the parks, where the playground equipment is situated and how many dog waste bins there are and where.

The Challenge

Finding new ways of achieving this in a way that saves money and manpower is always advantageous to local authorities. Surrey Heath’s GIS team had had survey equipment for years but found it too complicated and limited as they were tied to propriety platforms that they had to use with it which was costly for the organisation. The team at Surrey Heath Borough Council in Camberley in Surrey realised that they needed GIS to be able to manage the level of grounds maintenance needed effectively and so they took on a temporary contractor to carry out the data capture project.

The Solution

In searching for a replacement, we recommended the Eos Positioning Systems Arrow 100 to GIS Manager James Rutter and discovered the Fulcrum Cloud service which is designed for non-specialists. The Fulcrum app is used on a smartphone or tablet which is a big attraction as it allows Surrey Heath to use consumer grade hardware that keeps costs down. James Rutter said: “We like the kit because it’s a simple configuration just connecting by Bluetooth and the battery lasts all day in the field. In practice it’s highly effective and it’s highly accurate down to 25cm even in dense tree cover which is unheard of at that price point. We were also pleased to discover we can use GLONASS with the Arrow and that further boosts the accuracy. It’s perfect for our needs.” The success of using GPS to capture grounds maintenance data for Surrey Heath has been so high that it’s prompted them to invest in a second device so that they can expand its use within the organisation. James said:“It’s the stuff that the council gets hundreds of enquiries about every year and the data we’ve captured helps us identify the issue quickly and deal with the problem. For example, if a park bench needs repairing and it has a dedication plaque, the equipment allows us to map which dedication is with which bench so we can make sure they are repaired and returned to the right place. It saves so much time and money not having to send staff out to recheck areas. Now we’re expanding GIS use into other areas and sharing platforms with other local councils so that we can achieve more. We have access to a lot of information that we didn’t have before. In day to day operations this makes a huge difference to delivery, while from a contract point of view it allows us to measure everything we’re doing for example how many metres of grass we have cut that year.”

The Results

The GIS system has been so well received that Surrey Heath has plans to widen the scope of its use. James Rutter said: “We’re now looking at drainage engineers using the equipment for manholes and gullies, the Parks Department for their tree hazard assessments and in our car parks to assist in capturing data for street lighting and signage and for fault reporting. Its ease of use and accuracy means it’s really flexible and we are constantly thinking of where it could be used. MGISS has been really supportive and they are always on the other end of the phone when we need them.”