Business2Schools’ CEO Lindsey Parslow contacted Esri UK for advice when the charity was little more than a good idea. Recognising the huge potential of the initiative, Esri UK helped Parslow to embed GIS into core operating procedures so that the embryonic organisation’s vision could be realised as efficiently as possible. “Esri UK has been invaluable,” Parslow says. “Without Esri UK’s support and the ArcGIS technology, I don’t think we would be where we are today.”
ArcGIS fulfils four vitally important roles at Business2Schools. Firstly, an ArcGIS web app, embedded in the charity’s website, allows schools to register online and create a wish list for the furniture and technology that they would love to receive. All the relevant data is collated automatically by ArcGIS in a single spatial database, without any manual data handling.
Next, ArcGIS is used to locate the registered schools that are nearest to the organisations that have equipment to donate. When the postcode of the business is entered, the charity can immediately see how many registered schools are in the vicinity and expand or shrink the catchment zone to include more or fewer schools depending on the quantity of equipment available. Once the catchment zone is set, ArcGIS exports the email addresses of all head teachers in the zone, so that the charity can easily send them the inventory of available equipment.
Business2Schools also uses ArcGIS to undertake analysis to help it determine the best way to allocate high-demand items, based on need and location. For example, when Business2Schools is donated height-adjustable desks, it uses ArcGIS to find nearby special schools that cater for the needs of large numbers of students who use wheelchairs.
Finally, the charity’s website offers an ArcGIS web app allowing individuals and small businesses to find their nearest school and contact them direct to offer them small amounts of equipment or individual laptops. This web app was promoted by the BBC during the first national COVID-19 lockdown, as part of its ‘Make a Difference Appeal’, facilitating the donation of thousands of laptops nationwide to help pupils study from home.