DONINGTON PARK is one of the oldest motor racing DONINGTON PARK is one of the oldest motor racing circuits in the UK – racing started in 1931. It was the “mecca” for grand prix racing and saw the arrival of

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    DONINGTON PARK is one of the oldest motor racingcircuits in the UK racing started in 1931. It was themecca for grand prix racing and saw the arrival ofthe German teams with the Mercedes and AutoUnion cars, which dominated the sport in the late30s (Fig 1). It was an army depot during the war butreverted to a race track and was bought by TomWheatcroft in 1971. It thrived for over thirty yearsculminating in being awarded the British Formula1 event for 2012. However, the site operatorswere not able to secure funding and the businesswent into administration with the site revertingto the Wheatcroft family. In early 2011 Jeremy Murfitt was appointed to dealwith property and planning matters but had to

    start from scratch. The administrators had seized all ofthe contents of the site offices. Nothing was left, no

    paper work, maps, plans, nothing. Luckily, the estatemanager had a separate office with some of the relevantdocumentation.

    The only maps and plans available were hardcopies showing ownership, leases and contracts,planning permissions, utilities and drawings ofbuilding details and site surveys. There was quite a pileof maps and plans varying in size, quality and scale.

    Jeremy proposed a GIS solution to organise all ofthe information concentrating on building a propertydatabase initially and thereafter to include services.Once complete this would be transferred to the

    client who would purchase a single user licence andtrain one individual to operate the software. Theproject started with Esri ArGIS 9.3 but with anexpectation that the final version should move to10.0. This would of course require some retrainingand support during a critical implementation phase.

    The Initial Property Terrier The terrier was toinclude all owned property, tenants and occupiers,building information, listed buildings, planningrecords, tree preservation orders, SSSIs, rights of way,helicopter landing pads, and car parks. OrdnanceSurvey MasterMap and aerial imagery were acquired,geo-databases set up and within a couple of weeks abase system was up and running.

    At this point, Jeremy realised his need for furtherapplication training and hadnt considered online

    training until he discovered GIS247. He decided to startfrom the beginning of the course and work through allof the modules. These are broken down into logicalsections and can be taken as a whole or as individualcomponents. An immediate benefit was finding betterways of using the software and finding shortcuts orsimpler options which all improved efficiency.

    Site Services The next phase of implementation wascapturing the services to and within the property.There were some CAD surveys, most recently from2008 and these contained useful, but unintelligent

    GIS goes motor racing! Over the past year, Jeremy Murfitt hasimplemented a GIS for managing Donington Park Race Circuit. GIS was the obvious solution a

    compact site with no existing asset data. The technology has proved vital for big events,coexistence with the international airport next door and for bringing the circuit out of

    administration and back to profitability. But there was a lot to learn! He was supportedthroughout by access to e-learning and technical guidance from GIS247.






    10 joining the geography jigsaw

    Issue No 45 April 2012

    case study: Donington Park

    Figure 1: British G

    rand Prix


    Right: Figure 2 Donington

    Foul andSurface


    Far right: Figure3 An extract

    from the WorldSuper BikesMasterplan.

  • By now thebenefits of the

    GIS werebecoming

    obvious themanagementteam could

    visualise all theinformation and

    financialjustification was


    data. This included manholes and inspectionchambers (location but not use), power lines, watersupplies, hydrants, data lines, telecomms infra-structure, water mains, surface and foul drainage.

    Two geo-databases were created one for watersupply and drainage and the second for electrics &telecomms. Populating these was more complexrequiring many hours on site identifying andcategorising all of the features. The estate managerslocal knowledge was critical and, from a largenumber of A0 drawings, a service plan was piecedtogether (see Fig 2).

    By now the benefits of the GIS were becomingobvious the management team could visualise all theinformation and financial justification was evident.Presentation with the GIS in meetings makes best useof attendees time and enables everyone to see anduse the same information. This was particularly usefulwhen discussing issues relating to site services thiswas the first time that comprehensive plans of thewhole site were available.

    The first big event of the 2011 season was theBritish Superbikes Championship at the end of March.For such major events, the circuit is required to havean event management plan covering everything fromwaste management to lost property. Interested partiesinclude all the blue light services, East Midland Airportand the race organisers. This was another opportunityto use the GIS at previous events these keyparticipants had never had access to the sameinformation at the same time or in such consistentlymapped form. The list of locations to be capturedincluded: external and internal gates, ticket offices,medical points, marshals stations, CCTVs, loudspeakers, large screen TVs, satellite uplinks, temporarymobile telephone masts, camera locations, towerlights, and lots of campsite details. These wereorganised into three geo-databases: Event Data, TrackData and Health & Safety information.

    The flexibility for fast display enabled the variousinterested parties to speed up decision making, hardcopy plans were produced on the fly. Previously this







    required a third party CAD provider to recreate plansoffline over a few days. A simple local grid wasadded and seemed to be welcomed. However, itsoon transpired that the police and fire servicesimmediately revert to national grid in an emergencyand they were delighted to watch the OS Gridappear at the flick of a switch! See Fig 3.

    Planes Donington Park lies at the western end ofEast Midlands Airport (EMA) and the end of therunway is only 800m from the site boundary. Astandard airport safety procedure requiresdetermination of the minimum take-off and landingslopes. These are different with take-off slopes beingless steep than the landing glide path. Although thetheoretical slopes are set for the worst case (fullyloaded take off on one engine) any structure alongthe line of the runway must not protrude above thissurface. The airport provided CAD drawings forthese slopes and these were used to create polygonsand lines in the GIS for the circuit. See fig 4.

    All structures on the site were already coordinatedand their heights above ground known. From the sitesurvey there were also ground levels so the clearancebetween any structure and the take-off surface couldbe calculated. However, a problem arises whencameras are mounted on movable access platforms these are up to 45 metres high! Any protrusionswould have to be notified to the authorities and couldresult in restrictions on flying from the airport. Thiscould prove costly to the circuit!

    People The final element of the planning processrelated to people. The GIS enabled easy visualisationof where people would be located during the event.This is needed to obtain a motor racing licence fromthe Federation Internationale de lAutomobile (FIA).Their inspector visited the track two weeks before theevent to confirm and agree all details about the trackincluding all safety aspects and where all personnelwould be located during the event marshals,doctors, ambulance crews, emergency response bikes,

    joining the geography jigsaw

    Above Left: Figure 4 The East Midlands

    Airport (EMA) Take OffSurface.

    Above: Figure 5 Determining the

    Clearance Heights.

    Issue No 45 April 2012

    casestudy Donington Park


    security, gate and ticketing teams etc.The inspection takes place over a day and plans

    were provided the previous week for all theselocations with suitable symbols. The inspector didmake a number of changes to these locations whichwere instantly updated using drag and drop. Revisedplans were quickly produced, printed and signed off.These were simple circuit outlines with appropriatesymbols but no base data. See Fig 6.

    With the big event over it was an opportune timeto upgrade to ArcGIS 10 and the GIS247 service werethere to help. Purchasing and using new softwarecan be a bit like a new toy at Christmas! Open it;glance at the manual and then just start playing! Inthis case an easy download from Esri and away yougo. Using the application before embarking onformal training can be useful anyway. Priorknowledge helps to get the best out of the training.Jeremy confirms this; he used GIS247 to workthrough the modules for version 10 with the aim ofcompleting all three levels of training. He then spentsome time and effort tidying up datasets for thevarious applications and entering some Metadata.GIS247 particularly stress the importance of keepingdatasets well structured and organised.

    Jeremy is an experienced GIS user and deals

    mainly with property based information. Datasets aretherefore relatively static and there is little need towork with complex mapping or with scripts. However,Jeremy wants to be able to present clients withsimple and functional applications that will enablethem to use the data themselves. He is looking atvarious options including using Arc Publisher alongwith Arc Reader. Online projects are also of interestand he knows that GIS247 will be ready to help.

    What next? At the circuit there will be improvementsto the data including a new survey of the water mainsand of the miles of electric and data cabling. Moreexcitingly there are discussions about the real timemapping of vehicles using the track to help with noisemodelling and collating data on spectators to assist withtraffic management. It sounds like Christmas may becoming round again?!

    Final thoughts Jeremy believes that GIS is going toachieve a much higher profile in commerce andbusiness it has yet to filter down from the publicsector and the large corporations. Google Earth/Mapsand many other websites have raised the profile ofmapping. However, there is a knowledge gap formany people between what can be achieved withGoogle Maps (for example) and that of full GISapplications such as ArcGIS or MapInfo.

    He believes however that large-scale mapping prices(typified by OS MasterMap) are a deterrent to manypotential GIS users. Some clients believe it is prohibitiveand this is particularly true for rural areas where recentprice changes have resulted in 20% hikes for someusers. Similarly, although the latest ArcMap 10 from Esrihas been a significant release and he would not nowwish to go back to the previous version, he cannotjustify the cost of some of the extensions which hewould like to use for some clients.

    Jeremy will also continue to use GIS247 to furtherhis knowledge and skills with the benefit that he hasthe flexibility to use the online training as needed.






    12 joining the geography jigsaw

    Issue No 45 April 2012

    case study: Donington Park

    About the AuthorJeremy Murfitt is a Chartered Surveyor with over 20 yearsexperience and has always had an interest in mapping. Hiscompany EiS Property provides advice on property,planning and providing GIS solutions with clients includingDonington Park, Breedon Aggregates and Sandicliffe.

    About GIS247GIS247 is a comprehensive e-training solution for GISusers, with full courses and instructional technicalmodules that support GIS projects worldwide. Its internet-based solution provides valuable tools for all userswhether they are new to GIS or seasoned professionals.GIS247 is one of the many solutions offered to the GIScommunity by Sological Solutions.

    Jeremy (right) won the GIS247 competition for users stories andwas awarded the iPad 2 prize by Steve Soloman, GIS Co-ordinator,GIS247. The picture shows the prize presentation in the motormuseum at Donington Park Race Circuit.

    Above: Figure6 TheMarshalspositions forrace day.

  • Issue No 45 April 2012

    more information

    joining the geography jigsaw

    For more information, contact:

    PV Publications Ltd, publishers of GIS Professional, Geomatics World andEngineering Surveying Showcase magazines.

    Tel: +44 (0)1438 352617Email:

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