Smart Solutions from Vicrea
Vicrea Solutions bv has been a Cadcorp partner since its foundation in 1999. The Dutch IT company specialises in the development of spatial information systems, data-integration and smart city solutions, both as standard products and customised applications.
Vicrea defines what it does as "Spatial IT" - creating IT solutions which maximise the use and the power of geo-information. For Vicrea, location is the common characteristic binding information in a database, and even linking disparate information systems. They have an expression for this: ‘Elke locatie een bron van informatie’ - Every location is a source of information. They symbolise this by use of a red ball. Vicrea’s customers are drawn predominantly from the Dutch public sector, comprising ministries, provinces, water boards, and particularly municipalities where Vicrea occupies a dominant market position.
Kees Radstaak, managing director, describes how the focus on Spatial IT, has contributed to Vicrea’s success in the Dutch municipal IT market. "A very large part of the production and service responsibilities of municipalities – maybe 70 to 80 per cent – can be directly or indirectly traced back to working with geo-information. Consider urban development, spatial planning, housing management, building regulations, public works and finance. They all involve location. The property of shared locations lets us bring together administrative and geometric data – data that used to exist in separate domains.
"Ten years ago Dutch municipalities were relatively autonomous in the way they designed their IT systems. Although municipalities have common information needs, there was a huge diversity of IT systems being developed and supported. This proved to be quite inefficient, given that 55 per cent of municipalities have populations of less than 30,000, and lack the resources to maintain bespoke systems. Vicrea saw an opportunity to support municipalities with standardised Spatial-IT solutions: solutions which met the specifications mandated by a government-sponsored architectural model for municipal information and communications systems. We created a suite of municipal IT applications – Smart Solutions – built around an all-Oracle spatial data warehouse and an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). Today, Vicrea Smart Solutions are used by more than 50 per cent of Dutch municipalities."
Smart Solutions and Key Registers
Radstaak, explained the role of Cadcorp technology in supporting Smart Solutions. "Government mandated standards have helped facilitate communications between the products of different software vendors, and this has given more freedom to Dutch municipalities to select ‘best-of-breed’ components from different vendors. Vicrea was one of the first suppliers to ‘open up’ their products to facilitate interoperability, and Cadcorp technology with its reputation for openness and interoperability has played a major part in our success."
The Netherlands now has one of the most advanced systems of e-government in the world, and it is the lowest tier of government – the municipality – which plays by far the most important role. It is here that the responsibility resides for creating the key registers required to make e-government work. These cover addresses, buildings, people, companies, land parcels, property, taxes, infrastructure and topographic maps. The majority of Dutch municipalities meet their legal responsibilities to create these registers using Vicrea Smart Solutions. The application automatically recognises how a change in one record affects other records. Using a map as an interface means that changes are easily registered and made visible in all related records. The resultant records are kept in a single, central place and are used by all government authorities as a single, definitive record. Their significance is that they allow citizens to communicate with government bodies by providing information only once.
Smart Solutions is more than a data creation system. When public bodies and citizens need to access data held in key registers as part of everyday e-government, Smart Solutions unlocks data from different databases, and sorts data based on location so that it becomes easily available and simple to interpret. Visualised both as a map and as an administrative form, data related to customers, citizens, offices, permits, infrastructure and goods are immediately turned into valuable information.
Kees Radstaak outlined the future for Vicrea: "Our mission is to continue to help the public sector be as efficient as possible, and offer the best possible services to its citizens. We will do this by developing and deploying smart integrated information systems, Smart Geographic Information Systems and Smart City Solutions. These will be used in collecting and measuring data, combining and integrating data, and presenting, using and analysing information."