Education Authority Northern Ireland Honored at Esri’s International User Conference, San Diego

SAN DIEGO, Calif.—July 13, 2017—The Education Authority Northern Ireland was awarded with Esri's Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award on July 12 at the annual Esri User Conference. Selected from over 300,000 eligible candidates, the Education Authority received the award for its innovative application of technology, data collection, geospatial information visualisation, and thought leadership through GIS in the field of education. "The SAG Awards provide a great opportunity to showcase all the outstanding achievements of our users," said Jack Dangermond, Esri founder and president. "The Special Achievement in GIS Award recognises exemplary organisations implementing spatial analytics technology to change the world. Highlighting the good work of users—in industries ranging from commerce to government—benefits the entire GIS community, and that's very valuable."

The Education Authority Northern Ireland developed an ingenious web app to check if children are eligible for school bus travel and apply online. This School Transport App allows parents of both post-primary and primary schools throughout the country to quickly and easily assess if their children are eligible for free travel. The app simplifies a very complicated process, which involves measuring the walking distance to school for each individual applicant and ensuring that all decisions about whether to fund transportation are made both quickly and fairly. Until recently, this entire process was driven by information collected and communicated in paper-based forms. By digitally transforming this paper based process, the Education Authority has reaped many additional benefits;

  • It has modernised the application process for school transportation.
  • There is greater convenience and better information for parents.
  • Public confidence in the application process greatly improved.
  • There are potential time savings of over 58 days a year.
  • There is now more accurate address information to assist decision making.

The solution has received enthusiastic feedback from families and after two successful pilot years, it was rolled out at start of May for Northern Ireland Primary Schools and then at the start of June for Post Primary Schools. The Education Authority have already had more than 10,000 applications from parents this year through the system and they usually expect this to be 40,000 by the end of the summer, once the exam results are out.

This is a great example of digital transformation in the community. It also shows how “The Science of Where” is making a real difference to parents and school children across Northern Ireland, as they’ve moved from paper forms, measuring tapes and weeks of decision making to online, transparent and real time decisions.

Education Authority was one of 180 organisations in areas such as agriculture, defense, transportation, non-profit work, telecommunications, and local and state government to receive a SAG Award. Esri staff annually nominate hundreds of candidates from around the world for consideration, and Jack Dangermond selects the winners.

For more information on SAG and to view the full list of 2017 winners visit the website -