Spatial Data at the heart of our “Digital DNA” – Esri Ireland wins at Belfast Awards Ceremony

At Esri Ireland we believe in placing innovation at the heart of what we do. Nowadays, big data, open data and metadata are phrases that are commonplace in business but what about Spatial Data? We are passionate about the use of location-based data and in particular how businesses are using this for better decision making, so we were thrilled to be chosen as the winner in the “Best Use of Data” category at this year’s Digital DNA Awards. 

Inspiring over 5,000 individuals and businesses from every industry to incorporate technology and innovation into their DNA – the Digital DNA Conference and Awards take place annually in Belfast since 2013. The awards celebrate outstanding work, recognising those organisations that are pushing the boundaries of technology to make a measurable and significant difference to the world.  

For most organisations the most challenging aspect of any decision-making process has been finding, validating and massaging relevant data by visualising, analysing and optimising it in a manner that helps solve business problems.   Spatial data has always been a part of business analytics, often helping answer questions such as: ‘Where should I locate my next store or branch?’ ‘Where are my existing customers and where are my target prospects?’ However, with the explosion of location based data collected through smartphones and other devices this has meant that the use of spatial data is now fast becoming a source of competitive advantage for the business sector.

Best Use of Data – in Practice

The “Best Use of Data” Award category recognises businesses that harness the power of data to achieve valuable competitive advantage. 


Esri Ireland’s Digital DNA Award for Best Use of Data 2016

Among its numerous responsibilities, the Education Authority Northern Ireland is required to facilitate transportation for pupils who live more than a stipulated distance away from their allocated grant-aided school. Northern Ireland is a predominantly rural country and, as a consequence, over 90,000 children are eligible for transport assistance. Every summer the Education Authority must consider in excess of 25,000 new applications in time for the start of the academic year.   In collaboration with the Education Authority Northern Ireland, Esri Ireland developed a simple easy to use web app to allow parents in the Southern Region to check if their children are eligible for school bus travel and apply online.   It is anticipated that the pilot will be expanded to replace a complicated manual process with a web-based app that is mobile friendly and accessible 24/7.

Some of the benefits include greater convenience and better information for parents, improved public confidence in the application process, potential  time savings associated with improved administrative processing  when the app is rolled out nationally & more accurate address information to assist decision making.


Left to Right: Jonathan Irwin (Esri Ireland) Colm Daly (Education Authority) Dale Hanna (Education Authority) Rachel McKane (Esri Ireland) pictured with “Best use of Data” Award, Esri Ireland Office, Holywood.


Another example of best data use was the work of Esri Ireland and Land & Property Services (LPS), Northern Ireland.

Esri Ireland worked closely with LPS to help it design, build and implement a versatile GIS infrastructure and web-based GIS portal.  Named Spatial NI, the solution consolidates hundreds of different location-based data sets, including, for the first time, information from all local authorities in Northern Ireland. Users can access these vast resources via the Internet and layer data sets on maps and aerial images to get a deeper understanding of issues.

Similarly Esri Ireland helped the Adsum Foundation, a charity in Northern Ireland, create a “Story Map”.  The Adsum Foundation work with NGO's on the ground in Madagascar with a focus on provision of water, education and sanitation, health and sustainable livelihoods. 



Children supported by The Adsum Foundation in Madagascar

The fully interactive Story Map shows both donors and interested parties where projects are located in country, gives a brief overview of each project and where donor money has been allocated.

Web site visitors can then click on a category (such as ‘education’ or ‘health’) to look at specific types of projects or zoom into any particular initiative for full, showing them data that is relevant to their area of interest.

Paul Synnott, Country Manager, “We’re absolutely delighted to be recognised at the Digital DNA Awards for “Best Use of Data” 2016.  Businesses now understand that spatial data is a powerful way to connect people to place, transactions to actions, responses to trends, and customers both to where they do business and what kinds of business they do.  We work with customers across all sectors to harness that value by helping them visualise, analyse and optimise their spatial data, – not just asking question such as ‘what?’, but digging deeper into the data to understand “where”.

If you would like to turn your location-based data into meaningful insights why not get in touch email: mapsmakesense@esri-ireland.ie