Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) Overhead Line Mapping Tool

The Spatial NI team worked in partnership with NIE to give customers across Northern Ireland greater access to information about the 11,000V (11kV) electricity network.


Northern Ireland Electricity, the electricity network company, has been working with renewable developers and landowners to ensure the process for connecting renewable technologies is as understandable and streamlined as possible. Providing the right information is vital for anyone wishing to install renewables, enabling them to assess the financial viability of the project.

NIE introduced a PDF ‘heat map’ in 2013, showing areas of the electricity network which were either at, or approaching, capacity. This simple red, amber, green map showed the capacity available at locations across Northern Ireland. However, it was not possible to look further, for example, the developer could not assess how far the proposed project was from the existing network, or how far away the nearest substation was.

The Solution

Working closely with NIE, Spatial NI developed an interactive, overhead line mapping tool. This tool provides:

  • More detailed information on the congestion level in relation to small scale generation in any given location.
  • Greater ability to work out how close the renewable generator is from the existing network and nearest primary substation.
  • Developers with the right information, helping them to better assess the viability of the proposed project.

The mapping tool is a positive step forward in NIE’s engagement with the renewables industry. It allows the user to search on postcode, as well as offering high level zoom and measuring tools, providing developers with an ideal platform to assess whether they are likely to be affected by capacity issues.

NIE Overhead Line Mapping Tool

The Benefits

  • Developers and landowners have appreciated the interactivity and accuracy of the online tool. Feedback from Ulster Farmers Union (UFU), Northern Ireland Renewables Industry Group (NIRIG), Northern Ireland Solar Trade Association and the Utility Regulator has been positive.
  • The mapping tool gives developers greater understanding of the electricity network, especially the main point their electricity is fed from.
  • Developers say the tool has helped them accurately determine whether a connection is feasible, in advance of submitting an application, saving both expense and time.

Eluvies II

LPS took part in an emergency planning exercise to test multi-agency planning and response to a coastal flooding event.

Verity Douglas

The challenge for LPS was to raise awareness of the potential to use GIS mapping capabilities to assist co-ordination of flooding incidents.


Three days prior to the planning exercise LPS provided an online Spatial NI emergency viewer which was live in the run up to the exercise. This enabled organisations to familiarise themselves with the potential impact of the unfolding scenario.

The web based application had all of OSNI’s base mapping from Orthophotography to Large Scale data and was ready to receive and publish other data as required by the emergency scenario.

Viewers can be built quickly as the underlying data already exists as web services which can be combined to suit particular applications. This one combined OSNI mapping with data from LPS Valuation, DRD Roads Service, Department of Education, Rivers Agency, Department of Health, Health and Safety Executive, Fire and Rescue, Ambulance Service, PSNI, NI Water and NI Electricity.

Eluvies Application Screenshot

Spatial NI online viewer providing Common Operational Picture to all Civil Contingency Responders

The Benefits

  • It provided a common operational picture for all of the organisations involved in the operation. Most organisations have their own systems but few have the ability to share this in a readily accessible way (Rivers Agency being a notable exception).
  • The ability to visualise information submitted by a range of organisations involved in an emergency response was of crucial importance in identifying high risk locations and facilitated effective and rapid decision making.
  • The need for an emergency GIS viewer with pre-loaded information from organisations including emergency resource locations/infrastructure/rest centres etc was recognised and will be established to be deployed in a real life tidal surge event.
  • It identified gaps in the information required to deal efficiently with vulnerable areas and people. An exercise to resolve these issues is currently underway.


Blizzard Emergency Response web mapping application deployed by LPS

Keith Montague

The challenge for LPS was to deploy a customised Emergency Response web mapping application utilising Spatial NI, which could be circulated to all agencies involved in the emergency operation.


In March 2013 following an incidence of extremely heavy snowfall across Northern Ireland, Land & Property Services (LPS) were asked to provide mapping services to assist the multi agency task force who were concerned with the co-ordination of both humanitarian and animal welfare. This was the first time that an LPS GI team was officially asked to join a major incident.

The Solution

Within one hour LPS had deployed a Spatial NI viewer. The web mapping application had all of OSNI’s base mapping from Orthophotography to Large Scale data and was ready to receive and push data as required by the emergency. The mapping viewer was used to visualise three main things.

  • Snow accumulation – the areas badly affected by the snow were identified, digitised and displayed on the viewer. All areas of high ground over 150m were also identified as being of potential high risk to snow accumulation and were also displayed. Pointer, the national address database, was used to identify all the properties that fell within the snow affected areas.
  • Road closures – these were mapped with information coming from Roads Service in a range of formats. The visualisation of road closures was critical in order to identify which roads were impassable. This informed decision making and helped identify the best route for emergency vehicles to deliver food and also tracked progress on road clearances. A high volume of information on the status of road closures was received by the team over the course of the emergency.
  • Flooding – as snow stopped accumulating and risk to lives was not likely, the next potential risk identified was that of sudden snow melt causing widespread flooding. Rivers Agency and Roads Service mobilised extra sandbag locations as a precautionary measure and these were also mapped on the Emergency Viewer. Data from other organisations such as Councils and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development was also added.
Spatial NI Blizzard screen shot

Example screen shot from the Spatial NI Emergency Viewer showing the location of all Emergency Support Centres, areas of land with an elevation greater than 150 metres and the condition of roads in the snow affected areas.

The Benefits

  • The agencies involved in the response acknowledged that being able to visualise information across a range of organisations involved in the emergency was of crucial importance in identifying high risk locations and facilitating effective and rapid decision making.
  • The use of mapping in this severe weather incident highlighted the value of Geographic Information to assist with the management of major emergencies.
  • The incident highlighted the importance of having key datasets loaded in Spatial NI for use in such emergencies for example the locations of schools, hospitals etc.
  • As a result of LPS involvement in this major incident, LPS has received requests to hold further datasets in Spatial NI that can be used in emergency situations.

Fermanagh Rural Address Project

Spatial NI web application used in Fermanagh Address data cleansing exercise.

Keith Montague

The challenge for LPS was to create an interface that would allow their staff to both view and layer multiple datasets but also allow multi user editing of a single database.


Fermanagh District Council had, on an ongoing basis, approved addresses in some parts of Fermanagh, predominantly in towns and housing developments. In the remainder of the County, particularly in rural areas, an unofficial addressing system had evolved.

To ensure access to services for all Fermanagh residents, an official addressing system was required. As a result, unofficial road names, house numbers and postcodes in rural areas of Fermanagh were reviewed.


Fermanagh District Council asked Land & Property Services (LPS) to help them carry out the considerable data cleansing involved in this project using resources from the Pointer Address database and Spatial NI.

Spatial NI was used to develop a web mapping application. The web application could be freely accessed on any computer with a web browser allowing the addressing team access to all the key geographic information system (GIS) tools they required.

The application was powered by Spatial NI i.e. it was hosted on the Spatial NI system and it utilised a broad range of web mapping services available on the portal.

Spatial NI Fermanagh Address screen shot

Example screen shot from the Spatial NI Fermanagh Rural Addressing Project web application.

The Benefits

  • The web mapping application created in Spatial NI meant that the LPS staff working on the project could access all the GIS functionality that they required for carrying out the addressing work without utilising expensive GIS software.
  • The typical costs for 5 GIS software licenses capable of carrying out the tasks would be £15,000. LPS was able to use Spatial NI for free and employ extra staff for the project rather than purchasing software. This was a more effective use of resources.
  • In addition LPS through Spatial NI were able to provide Royal Mail with a unique bespoke mapping account, providing access to a tailored address dataset, the Road Centre Line Product and the townland boundary dataset. This functionality, together with GIS advice and the resolution of queries provided by LPS helped Royal Mail meet the completion date for the project.
  • The project ensured that Fermanagh has the most up-to-date addressing system in Northern Ireland.
Defibs4kids Logo

Defibrillator Mapping Project

Spatial NI hosts a register of defibrillators in Northern Ireland.

John Hewitt, Sopra

The challenge for the Northern Ireland Defibrillator Mapping group was to develop a mapping database of static and mobile defibrillators across education, business, health and community in Northern Ireland and share it with emergency providers and the public.


The NI Defibrillator Mapping Group was established as part of an initiative to develop a Community Resuscitation Strategy for Northern Ireland. Their role was to support the Steering/Implementation Group for the strategy by creating and maintaining an online mapping database of mobile and static defibrillator locations across Northern Ireland. The group identified Spatial NI as the best mechanism for implementing their aims and objectives.

The Solution

Phase 1 of the project inspired by Defibs4kids was to map the location of defibrillators in education establishments such as schools, further education establishments and Universities. The data was collected through a survey carried out by the Belfast Education and Library Board to gather data from schools within the province that currently have defibrillators.

This information was translated into a map layer and uploaded on Spatial NI so it could be displayed on a variety of OSNI background mapping.

Spatial NI enabled the mapping group to publish, share and update the map register. The intuitive Spatial NI interface means the information is accessible via the internet by stakeholders and the public on any PC or Mobile Device in a format that is easy to understand.

This data powered by Spatial NI can also be used by agencies such as the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service. They can integrate the defibrillator data with their existing operational systems, so the location of a defibrillator can be communicated to 999 callers in real time potentially saving lives.

As well as promoting the location of existing defibrillators, Spatial NI can be used by organisations to analyse the data and identify gaps in service provision.

Navigable map showing the location of defibrillators in Northern Ireland.

The Benefits

Through this project the NI Defibrillator Mapping Group highlighted the following benefits of Spatial NI:

  • It is easily available to everyone.
  • Data is presented in a very visual manner.
  • It easy to consume the information in whatever form the user requires it (the key principle of Open Data).
  • Is a superb mechanism to promote where defibrillators are, and where they are not.
  • Is an open system that is free to use.
  • Is fast and well supported.
  • Provides a central resource that can be updated and shared quickly and easily. Essential when being used in a real time emergency situation.