Mapping project speeds access to employment information and support

              MapMechanics helps Shaw Trust with travel analysis for disadvantaged and disabled people

March 02, 2009 — When someone contacts Shaw Trust, the national charity that helps disabled and disadvantaged people to find employment, there is now a much quicker and more reliable mechanism for putting them in touch with the most appropriate office for them and initiating the support and job-finding process.

This development follows a joint project conducted by the Trust with MapMechanics, a specialist in computer-based mapping and geographic information systems.

Shaw Trust provides its services to a wide range of private and public-sector organisations. It has 60 offices around the country, and when people make contact, it needs to be able to direct them to the office within their catchment area that is most convenient for them to travel to.

Since the boundaries of the user-organisations can be irregular, and do not necessarily align with obvious borders such as those of counties or other administrative units, the task of identifying the most suitable office for each caller is more complex than it might appear.

MapMechanics has been able to deal with the challenge by building a data set that matches postcodes to the boundaries of the funding organisations. This has been integrated with Shaw Trust’s existing Client Information Database (CID), which is used by staff at its branches and its four regional support centres when they are handling approaches from potential clients (the people seeking employment or other support services).

When someone contacts the organisation, whether by phone, by post or through a referral from another organisation, the CID system now automatically consults the MapMechanics data set, and indicates the three offices with the optimum travel times from the user’s location. It is then left to the client to decide which office is actually the quickest or easiest to reach.

“The great appeal of the system is that it is completely transparent,” says IS project leader David Henn, who is Shaw Trust’s business solutions consultant. “When Shaw Trust personnel enter the user’s details on the computer, it automatically finds the three nearest offices from their postcode, working on the basis of the lookup table generated by MapMechanics. They don’t have to go through some separate process.”

MapMechanics used the GeoConcept geographic information system to prepare the cross-matched dataset, and the company has also supplied GeoConcept to Shaw Trust. This software has the ability to work seamlessly with other computer applications, offering the potential for further background integration as and when required by the Trust.

MapMechanics also supplied Shaw Trust with Royal Mail Unit Postcode Points, which made it possible to run the GeoConcept query that was used during the data preparation. To provide the “find nearest” route-finding capability, the company has supplied the AA’s 1 to 200,000 vector digital road map data set.

“Not only does the system make it much quicker to direct each person to the right office,” says David Henn, “it also reduces the potential for errors, and ensures that we can offer people the right choices.” Shaw Trust provides a wide range of services (around 200 altogether), including pre-work activities, personal development training, employment programmes and independent living services. It works with individuals, private employers and public-sector bodies, and provides its own training courses as well as working with other training providers and learning centres.

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About MapMechanics

MapMechanics has been providing innovative solutions in sales and marketing, logistics planning, digital mapping and geographic analysis for twenty years.

MapMechanics uses digital map-based technologies to offer an extensive range of Web, desktop, paper and component solutions for a variety of business applications, from atlas production to business analysis, site selection, customer profiling and vehicle routing and scheduling.

MapMechanics distributes a wide range of data products including AA, NAVTEQ and Ordnance Survey digital mapping, as well as leading business and demographic datasets from many sources throughout the world. This data is listed in the Data Catalogue, which is probably the most extensive and up-to-date printed listing of its kind in Britain. It is published at least once a year, and is also available on the Internet.

MapMechanics is a major supplier of software solutions. It is the UK distributor of the GeoConcept geographic information system, which is used extensively in a diverse range of fields such as retail planning, marketing, healthcare, environmental planning and management, transport and logistics, site selection, network planning and territory allocation, telematics and command and control applications, policing and broadcasting, and central and local government.

MapMechanics also supplies and supports MicroAnalytics’ TruckStops and OptiSite in Britain. TruckStops is the world’s most widely-deployed routing and scheduling solution, and is in use in North and South America, Britain, continental Europe and elsewhere. OptiSite is an established and widely-deployed network modelling tool. Backing up its extensive product range, MapMechanics offers a comprehensive service of implementation support and training.


Katy McKenna
Canal Court, 155 High Street,
Brentford, London, TW8 8JA
Tel.: +44 (020) 8568 7000
Fax: +44 (020) 8568 7400
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