Tag Archive: GIS

Geographic Information Systems

If you are a business, which is spread across multiple sites or has an interest in understanding or expanding its geographical reach, then chances are you should be using Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

GIS has been around for a long time, but we are only just beginning to fully realise its applications for businesses, particularly those operating in property, mining, engineering, logistics, and the environment.

James Brett, GIS Mapping Manager at George F. White chartered surveyors and property consultants says: “GIS is gaining momentum in terms of public awareness as people are starting to clock on to the value it can provide.”

GIS can be understood as a kind of digital footprint for documenting and visualising information geographically. “The fundamentals of GIS are to manipulate, create and analyse spatial data”, adds James. Google Earth is a form of GIS in its simplest form, in that it allows you to add markers, lines and shapes, populate tables and visualise dense geographic data on a map. But the capabilities of Google Earth are fairly narrow compared to a GIS platform that’s developed specifically to do spatial analyses of almost any kind. GIS allows you to visualise all of your data with geographical context and there are numerous reasons why you might want to do this.

Maybe you are a property investor and you need to keep tabs on your portfolio or a supermarket targeting demand by using demographic data for a new site. You might be a landowner involved in a legal dispute over the boundaries of your ownership or a leisure operator trying to find a new site to build on. You could even be a government agency trying to plan new flood defences or a mountain rescue service trying to map avalanche risk.

GIS can be applied to make a real impact on all of these different scenarios. James adds: “If I were to summarise what GIS does brilliantly, it is facilitating more educated decision-making.” The site finding and property management aspects of GIS are where George F. White has a real strength, not just regionally but nationally as well.

James explains: “One of the largest projects that I’ve worked on was to help a national mining company find a new resource of rock to extract from the ground. They were looking for some 20 million tonnes of a particular rock type and we used GIS to visualise the relevant geological data and omit geographical areas that lie within areas of outstanding natural beauty or national parks, essentially places where you can’t dig. “We were basically identifying which areas of land have the best opportunity of ascertaining planning permission to extract millions of tonnes of rock from.” If you are looking for a new site to develop or extract resources from, then you need as much spatial information about the surrounding area as possible before making a decision.

GIS is also useful in property management for those companies who have hundreds/thousands of properties across vast distances because it allows them to visualise where they are on an interactive map and filter the data themselves based on things like when lease agreements might be up for renewal on the properties. James continues: “If you have 200 properties in your portfolio, then you want to visualise the service charge cost, return on investment, EPC ratings which can introduce an economy of scale by helping you decide which properties to renovate based on proximity.”

One of George F. White’s new clients that will benefit from this function is Teesside International Airport. “The objective with the airport is to take the property management portfolio and organise it,” James explains. “We’re going to be visualising all the tenure information, defining clearly all the legal boundaries and inputting all the landlord data, the tenant data, any legal documents and ultimately host and present these layers on an interactive map for the client to access.”

On the national scale, the big players in spatial data, from the Land Registry to the Environment Agency, are beginning to release more of their data to the public which is allowing GIS experts to formulate geographic layers to support business operations.

The Environment Agency have made LiDAR data available for any member of the public to download. GIS specialists are using LiDAR data to create accurate 3D models of the ground to help perform hydraulic modelling for flood analysis to figure out where best to place a dam or divert a river or build better flood defences. Given that climate change will increase both the frequency and severity of flooding in the UK, this function will be incredibly important in the future. “I think GIS has a pretty fundamental part to play in preventing future flooding,” James maintains.

Although the applications of GIS in the property sector are vast, not many firms have a dedicated and experienced team or a GIS service that they can shout about, which is what sets George F. White apart. From site finding to hydraulic modelling, GIS is facilitating better decision-making in a variety of sectors. Chances are there’s a problem in your business, which GIS could help solve.

If you would like to discuss GIS further and in particular how it might help your organisation please contact James Brett on 01665 511983 or click here to email.

GIS Mapping: How it can help improve your farm business

Tim Michie is a Senior Rural Surveyor at land, property and business consultancy, George F. White. Tim has been involved in the rural sector for most of his life; he joined George F. White as a graduate in 2011 and has recently been appointed as a senior member at the firm.

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Technological developments have really helped to improve efficiency across the UK agriculture sector and make the most of resources at a time where cashflow is stretched, and long-term forecasting is challenging. A Geographic Information System (GIS), is designed to store, analyse, manage, and present a variety of geo-spatial data. It is a technology used across many industries including farming, to increase productivity, improve decision-making and reduce costs.

For the farming industry, GIS technology has many benefits that can take guesswork out of production and enable farmers to manage their land much more effectively and, critically, get the most out of it to increase profits and support growth.

One huge advantage that GIS technology provides to farmers is that it enables them to farm very precisely. For example, every field is different and the levels of nitrogen, seed spread, amount of fertiliser, and yields can vary greatly. With GIS mapping, you can interweave datasets such as nitrate vulnerable zones, drainage pathways, fertiliser, crop and weed plans together to develop a strategic plan that can monitor and manage the health of your fields, the strength of your crops, and how best to treat them. This is because the technology can map these details and create findings that inform farmers about differences in soil types, weather impacts such as too much or too little sunlight, and drainage levels, to maximise crop production.

Another big plus point is that you can view all of this information on your phone so, if you’re out in the field drilling and need to check where, for example, your specific Countryside Stewardship Options are, so that you know where to drill to avoid any infringement of Natural England regulations and consequential penalties, you can do so, instantly. To give another example, if a spray contractor is coming out to spray your crops, you can refer the GIS data across to quickly identify boundaries, saving time and money in the prevention of over-spraying.

The benefits of using GIS technology are wide ranging and provide a good opportunity to help improve the overall function of a farm business. We are talking to farmers now about the role it plays in farming and how it can help them ensure their land and crops are as healthy as possible, to maximise output that can help increase their bottom line. With GIS, you have the ability to diagnose and classify any issues or problems and carry out interpretation, analysis and predictions, which can help farmers work smarter and run their business better.

For more details on GIS mapping and how it can work for your farm business, please contact Tim Michie on timmichie@georgefwhite.co.uk or 01665 511992.

Mapping the way forward…

Over recent months we have been developing new techniques to provide additional services to our clients and to streamline our internal processes in the field of surveying and mapping. George F. White have created a bespoke Geographical Information System (GIS) with the help of James Brett, who is a new addition to the Energy team led by Andrew Rollo. James holds a wider role to support our teams particularly within the rural, professional sectors alongside the planning and development disciplines. James is a geologist by trade who has a wealth of knowledge and experience with the manipulation of spatial data.

Ellingham-Estate-Mapping-Transition-Image-v1GIS provides a means to visualise multiple sets of data concurrently and can build a unique perspective on assets and opportunities. Without manipulative or styling constraints, we can edit spatial information to a very fine detail, allowing us to tailor the results with very specific criteria. GIS is not limited to two dimensions as elevation data brings about the potential of 3D modelling, creating entirely new visual perspectives to assets and opportunity enabling informed, smart decision making to ensure the best possible outcome.

For example, we can overlay estate ownership boundaries with adopted Local Plans, restrictive data sets and display areas which do not have a 5 year housing supply. This enables us to assess very quickly the attractiveness of the estate to potential developers, maximising the potential value. If we remove the local plan data and add in National Grid Power and gas assets, we can quickly identify if sites are prospects for developer led gas generation or battery storage projects.

Check out our GIS Service Page

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