Stratus Connect™ Helping To Transform Online User Experience
Windsor, Berks UK, 11 March 2010 – Pitney Bowes Business Insight (PBBI) – a global provider of location intelligence, data management and customer communication management software, data and services – today announces that Southwark Council in London is using PBBI’s web mapping technology Stratus Connect™ to significantly enhance the mapping services provided to citizens via the Council’s website, delivering the type of seamless and intuitive user experience that online citizens have come to expect from the Web 2.0 world.
Known as Southwark Interactive Mapping, the citizen services provided via Stratus Connect can be launched through www.southwark.gov.uk/YourServices/maps
Southwark Council is overhauling its online mapping features in two key areas. The first is to provide a dedicated one-stop-shop interactive mapping service that enables citizens to activate overlays on top of a detailed map of the borough – for example, clicking on ‘Controlled parking zones’ instantly highlights the relevant areas on the map. Other overlay options include ‘Schools’, ‘Recycling Sites’, ‘Planning Applications’ and ‘Conservation Areas’. Citizens are also able to: search for locations; browse mapping, aerial photography and historical mapping; and quickly display nearby services.
To directly view the full functionality of Southwark Interactive Mapping, go to http://maps.southwark.gov.uk/connect/southwark.jsp?tooltip=yes
The second key area for Southwark is its plans to make location and mapping functionality widely available throughout the website – for instance, the council plans to enable citizens to launch spatial searches and address look-ups from multiple service pages throughout the council website. The RIA (Rich Internet Application) controls that Stratus Connect supports via Stratus RIA Controls™ will enable individual web page managers to incorporate mapping and spatial search functionality wherever it’s needed.
Stratus Connect replaces the PlanAccess solution that the Council was previously using for public access to geographic-based information, in recognition that user expectations of interactive mapping have changed enormously over the past few years. Stratus Connect enables the type of uncluttered interface and simple zoom and pan functionality that users are accustomed to from web tools such as Bing Maps and Google Maps – but importantly, Stratus Connect delivers a number of advantages over mapping services available online.
“We wanted to put mapping at the heart of the Southwark Council website, as it’s a key indicator that we understand how citizens today want to interact with online environments,” said Stuart Carter, Corporate GIS Manager at Southwark Council. “Stratus Connect enables us to simplify and streamline the way we present location-based information to users, removing extraneous on-screen map tools and instead providing an intuitive interface that enables people to find what they want without having to go through unnecessary steps. However, while it’s clear that online tools such as Bing Maps and Google Maps have done a lot to popularise easy-access mapping, there’s a number of reasons why we resisted deploying them onto the council website.
“Services such as Google Maps are fantastic for private business websites, but not so good for local government organisations that have a responsibility to build and maintain a spatial data infrastructure (SDI). For instance, you can’t use Ordnance Survey (OS) MasterMap with the Google Maps API as this would breach Crown copyright, thus denying Southwark’s citizens access to the level of detail provided by OS MasterMap. Moreover, if we deployed an external mapping API such as Google Maps, we’d have little control over developments within it – for example, the style of the mapping or administrative functions could change without us being consulted.”
Southwark chose to work with PBBI on this project because of a longstanding relationship with the company based on its heritage as a location intelligence expert and innovator.
“PBBI is a company who we trust to provide both excellent solutions and support,” added Stuart Carter. “Southwark Council’s relationship with PBBI means that I can be involved in the ongoing evolution of products and provide honest and frank feedback that I know will be acted upon.”
Southwark Council is overhauling its online mapping presence in tandem with a re-launch of the council website during 2010. It is hoped that the new user-friendly, location-based information on its pages will encourage citizens to interact even further with the online services that Southwark provides.
Based on the expected success of the Stratus Connect deployment, the Council is anticipating a considerable improvement in visitor numbers compared to the old PlanAccess based service.