The Rural Payments Agency – and its sponsor, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) – have an aim of becoming more digital and data-driven; using data to support faster, more accurate decisions. To achieve this, the LMS data must be kept accurate and current.
Supporting digital & data driven decision-making
The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) – and its sponsor, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) – have an aim of becoming more digital and data-driven; using data to support faster, more accurate decisions. To achieve this, the LMS data must be kept accurate and current. In 2016, 1Spatial, in partnership with IT solutions provider Version 1, was awarded the contract to provide live service support for the Portal and LMS. Version 1 took responsibility for the Customer Portal while 1Spatial brought its expertise in the management of geospatial data infrastructures to the LMS.
The LMS is a bespoke business system that has been built by integrating different, best of breed, open source and commercial, off the shelf (COTS) software and custom code. This includes 1Spatial’s 1Integrate software and custom code. The system publishes a number of web mapping services, using open source technology, which are consumed by other components of the LMS and systems used by RPA. The support service handles and resolves day-to-day support issues and manages change requests – client requests for system changes and enhancements.
Building confidence with Agile development
1Spatial began a three-month transition period taking a risk-based approach to focus on the knowledge acquisition necessary to support the system. This included the analysis of customer support requests and embedding 1Spatial staff within existing teams at RPA. The approach prepared the 1Spatial team to deal with urgent change requests once the support period commenced.
1Spatial’s developers and engineers use an Agile development approach, which is common in software development houses, but less often seen in the field. Using this, engineers worked in regular, two-week sprints to address a prioritised “backlog” of tasks. At the end of each sprint, the team presented the results back to RPA, each time demonstrating the changes and the tests run to ensure no errors had inadvertently been made. This approach also allowed for rapid client feedback.
Like many organisations with a large and critical IT infrastructure, RPA works to a strict release schedule for any updates. However, the urgency of some updates, combined with the confidence the team had established with RPA meant that 1Spatial could work with the client’s infrastructure team to negotiate “off-drop” updates where these were urgently required. After a time, RPA’s team adopted the automated tests developed by 1Spatial thus improving their own efficiency.
Better, faster decisions
1Spatial’s support of the Land Management System has helped ensure that the RPA’s core geospatial data is consistently more accurate and up-to-date. In turn, this has supported the RPA in meeting its internal payment targets each year. At the same time, an improved geospatial data validation system means the RPA makes more effective use of claimants’ submissions. This reduces the amount of work required by farmers in making their claims and further increases the accuracy and timeliness of payments.
The provisioning of geospatial services, for example mapping and aerial photography, as part of the LMS, ensures that digitisers and other RPA decision makers have consistent access to digital data.
"The success of the RPA’s Rural Payment service means greater efficiency for the Agency. It also means the Agency can make better-informed decisions faster using digital services and data. 1Spatial’s involvement has helped us meet our performance targets and move towards our goal of becoming an increasingly digital and data-driven organisation."
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