Headlines: March 4th, 2008

Birmingham City Council has announced its support for the Mapping Services Agreement, a centrally-agreed deal which is expected to save local government hundreds of millions of pounds. It is the first arrangement of its kind under which local government has procured as a whole and used that bulk power to make savings.

As well as the procurement of data and services the agreement provides a framework that local government can use to contract with itself to deliver a common data referencing infrastructure. It gives authorities digital mapping and geographical digital data and access to standardised property and street information, which can be important in the provision of emergency services, as well as day to day monitoring and planning across local government.

Paul Tilsley, the Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said signing the agreement showed the authority recognised the importance of geographical data for the delivery of services. “The benefits which the council’s ten-year business transformation programme will deliver include a large number of improvements to area and community services and sharing comprehensive and accurate local information with our partners is an essential contributor to our success,” Councillor Tilsley added.

Lucy de Groot, executive director at the Improvement and Development Agency said it was impossible to underestimate the importance of accurate geographical information to councils and their partners. “More than 80 per cent of the work that local government organisations do is reliant on geographic information. Emergency services, planning, and housing are all dependent on this data, as are plans to transform services in the future,” she said.

The agreement, brokered by the Local Government Information House at the IDeA, is expected to bring benefits including economies of scale, in performance monitoring, managed changeovers to new products, reduced risks of copyright infringement through data licensing and access to services that help meet eGov commitments.