News from GeoPlace and the Astun meet-up

We recently descended on Manchester for GeoPlace, one of our favourite public sector events, and our annual team meet-up.

For those not in the know, the GeoPlace Conference is an extremely well-organised event for the public sector. The conference is supplemented by other events, such as the pre-event quiz and the GeoPlace Awards. Having sponsored the event, we wanted to make the most of the opportunity to catch up with familiar faces and forge new connections.  

Upholding Astun’s reputation

On Monday evening, it was down to our ‘Advance Party’, Mike (MD) and Andrew (Account Manager) to represent Astun in a hotly contested quiz. Invited to join forces with some familiar faces (Amy from Monmouthshire County Council and Matthew Lea from Newport City Council), they were over the moon to walk away with the top prize: a packet of Smarties and a statue each.

Pictured: Andrew (second from right) and Mike (right)

The GeoPlace Conference

With the previous night’s success already a distant memory, Mike and Andrew prepped our stand for the 400+ delegates expected at Manchester United’s ground. Any conference that starts with a bacon butty for exhibitors will always be a winner in our book and GeoPlace was no exception. 

Moira (Local Government Ambassador) joined Mike and Andrew on our stand to talk about all things GIS. We had hoped to bring David, ex-GIS local authority GIS Manager, with us in his new role as Sales Support, but he had already committed to zigzagging his way around a golf course overseas.

Who’s who at GeoPlace

The speakers at GeoPlace always attract a good crowd and a diverse range of job holders. This year was no exception. Teams represented included LLPG, GIS, data, reporting & analytics, estates, highways and street works.

Between talks, we had many visitors to our stand. Hot topics included our DataVia integration for iShare, planned changes to our pre-styled data service (Astun Data Services aka ADS) and the new version of iShare. 

With several requests for demos carefully noted, it was time to pack up and attend the GeoPlace Exemplar Awards. As GIS teams rarely have a chance to enjoy the limelight, we were keen to show our appreciation for those who had been shortlisted.

GeoPlace stand winner

After the main event, we chose a stand visitor to receive a copy of The Lost Paths, a book written by one of our clients, Jack Cornish of the Ramblers. Liz from Salford City Council was the lucky recipient. 

Award-winning GIS specialists

We were delighted that Karen Hawkes, a long-standing Astun client, was awarded the Peer Award. Until her very recent retirement, Karen was the custodian for Denbighshire County Council, Wales Address Chair and Wales Deputy Street Chair.

We’ve always found Karen to be a forward-thinking advocate for GIS and the judges agreed with us. They commented, “Karen has made an outstanding contribution to the addressing and street community. Colleagues highlighted how her tireless focus on promotion of the Local Land and Property Gazetteer (LLPG) and Local Street Gazetteer (LSG) across council services has resulted in more use and improved quality in the most challenging situations, such as during the Covid pandemic when Denbighshire was carrying out shielding calls.”

Pictured: Karen (l) with Trina, Business Systems Analyst, both from Denbighshire County Council

A commendation also went to another of our clients, Mark Percival at Rugby Borough Council, for his work championing GIS at multiple organisations. 

The Big Astun Meet-up

As GeoPlace drew to a close, the ‘Rear Party’ converged on Manchester for two days of planning and catch-ups in the Grade II listed surroundings of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. Working in cross-functional teams ensured that everyone’s opinions would be heard and considered. 

We’re grateful that most of our team were able to make the trip, with those left at home invited to join the discussions about AWS cloud hosting, ADS with OS APIs and other topics remotely (although nothing would make up for them missing out on the evening spent at the official Peaky Blinders Bar & Restaurant). 

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