Uniform GIS data for the Lahti region with Tekla Solution
The aim of using an efficient GIS-based solution throughout the Lahti region is to achieve cost effective operations and high-quality customer service. Tekla Solution for municipalities maintained by Lahti is utilized by the six municipalities of the region. Thanks to the region wide use of the solution, which began in 2006, also the area’s smaller municipalities can benefit from development of the solution. In addition, being at the core of the solution Tekla GIS guarantees consistent data quality for the entire area.
Lahti is currently using all Tekla GIS applications related to land use management. The city selected Tekla as its software supplier when moving over from manual maps and map data to a computerized geographic information system in 1990–1993.
"In practice, it is extremely good that zoning, real estate formation, and building control all are handled in one solution. When data maintenance is carried out only once and everything is done in the same way everywhere, work is smoother and more cost-effective. Use of a single solution has also enabled the development of various electronic services, such as an application for applying for building permits electronically," says Aija Holopainen, the head of cartography for the City of Lahti, with satisfaction.
Lahti has a zoned area of 6,942 hectares and a 451-kilometer street network. So far, 914 building permits have been processed in the regional building control center introduced at the beginning of the year. For the time being, the share of electronic services is small. However, it is expected to increase as the service is further publicized.
Quality and efficiency with region-wide use
In 2002, the Lahti region began to assess the possibilities for regional cooperation on matters related to GIS data and land surveying. As a result of the project, Asikkala, Hollola, Nastola, Orimattila, and Lahti started to intensify regional cooperation in their technical operations in 2006. Kärkölä joined them at a later stage. There are now 415 Tekla Solution users in the region. This project was the first of its kind in Finland.
Tekla Solution, which had already proven highly successful in Lahti, was selected as the common GIS system of the Lahti region. The choice was also influenced by the fact that the system was developed in Finland.
"Data systems must undergo constant development. Since Tekla's system is Finnish, developers do not need to go, for example, to London to ask what to do. Everything progresses smoothly," says Holopainen.
Before region-wide use of the solution, the individual municipalities were using about 20 different systems. Regional cooperation began with the transfer of all data into Tekla's solution. Today, the joint data can be used in regional GIS data production, management, and operational plan compilation. Also data quality and scope can be better developed by municipalities working together rather than separately. Errors and deficiencies can be assessed more accurately after data transfer to the integrated solution, where the same database contains both map and register data. The solution's use will be implemented through a regional use agreement specifying standard rates.
"We cooperate in many different ways in the region. In my opinion, municipalities cannot work alone, as separate units. Better customer service requires cooperation," states Holopainen.
Deeper cooperation in the regional technical sector
A joint GIS-based solution was necessary for deepening cooperation in the Lahti region with respect to the other areas of the technical sector, such as building control, master planning, and municipal engineering planning.
"Now data transfers covering several municipalities can be processed in a harmonious way. Large datasets are needed, for example, by such actors as main grid operator Fingrid and the telecommunications company Sonera," explains Holopainen.
"Regional cooperation has enhanced processes and saved work resources. With the introduction of regional use, all parties benefit from solution development, and we have been able to partially centralize data maintenance," Holopainen says, listing the benefits of regional use.
Pioneering work through the right attitude
Holopainen states that launching regional cooperation in the management and production of GIS data was pioneering work that required the right attitude from municipal employees as well as from Tekla as the solution provider.
"Tekla has provided technical know-how and support throughout the entire project. Furthermore, customer-specific needs have also been taken into consideration," says Holopainen.
She continues, "In my opinion, one of the benefits of development projects is that employees get more motivated for their work. The projects are not easy. Therefore, stamina and perseverance are required from all parties."
Electronic services of great value in the city's strategy
Electronic services are being introduced widely in the public sector and are highly valued also in the strategy of the City of Lahti. For example, applying for building permits electronically was made possible in Lahti at the beginning of the year, using a Tekla-designed web service. According to Holopainen, this will reduce the human labor required and improve customer service.
Electronic building control services are integrated into the Tekla Solution. Therefore, the eService application can directly use the data already in the database.
At the beginning of 2009, three municipalities in the Lahti region implemented a joint building control system. This will facilitate the launch of region-wide electronic services.
"With electronic services, we aim at better municipal services, more profitable operations, and greater cost-efficiency. The objectives can only be achieved by investing in well-functioning, efficient systems. An information system is a tool, and employees want good tools, regardless of the field," states Holopainen.
Pictures by Lahti Picture Bank / Pertti Klemola and Tekla