About Estates Gazette Interactive (EGi)
With over 140 years of publishing history behind it, Estates Gazette had built up detailed and up-to-date knowledge of the movements of the 18,000 occupants of London’s top commercial properties. EGi’s site has already won the Interactive Magazine award from the Publishers and Periodicals Association, beating such prestigious rivals as the Radio Times.
Estates Gazette was sitting on a wealth of valuable information, which was hidden within the magazine and in paper files. Serving the editorial team, a dedicated research department had built up detailed and up-to-date knowledge of the movements of the 18,000 occupants of London’s top commercial properties.
The Internet was seen as a new route to enable the property industry magazine - owned by publishing giant Reed Business Information - to profit from this valuable information. As well as putting the magazine’s editorial content on-line, Estates Gazette interactive (EGi), was set up to give the property industry direct access to a wealth of commercial property information.
A research department was built up and a joint venture was established with one of the UK’s largest surveying firms to create a database of information on the Central London Office market. The London Office Database (LOD) was launched six months after the initial launch of EGi and provided detailed information on all office buildings, over 19,000 office occupiers, planning pipeline information and availability.
The Access database where the LOD was stored had problems when it linked the data to the Internet. As the research data grew the system slowed down and the nightly task of transferring updated information was taking longer and longer. Sometimes data disappeared. The database expertise of Objective was called upon when it was decided that the whole system needed to be more robust and reliable.
www.egi.co.uk has already won the Interactive Magazine award from the Publishers and Periodicals Association, beating such prestigious rivals as the Radio Times. The ability to capture advertising revenue through its premium products has also contributed to EGi’s Internet site flagship status within Reed Business Information. Fears that the EGi website would harm the publication figures of Estates Gazette have proved groundless as the number of magazines subscribers has increased.
Objective was asked to redesign the London Office Database. Getting to grips with the understanding of how and why the information was gathered was Objective’s first task.
Head of Research at EGi said, “One of the problems was that we had been trying to gather too much information on one screen. Objective created more logical fields and screens for entering information.” He added: “Normally people do not like change but the researchers were sold on the idea very quickly because it was much faster and more logical.”
Objective changed the Access database to a SQL server, which provides an “intelligent” way of handling data storage. The trials for reliable data transfer were successful and the LOD is now an EGi premium product offered to subscribers to the Internet service.
The database has been further expanded to incorporate new areas, which will give property professionals even more commercially advantageous information at their fingertips. Following the Objective designed model, a national database was set up to incorporate all the tenants in Britain’s top shopping centres - Shopping Centre Research (SCR).
Through a business acquisition EGi has added London Residential Research (LRR) database to its portfolio, covering 9,000 major residential property planning applications and permissions in Greater London.
Merging the two research teams brought another challenge for Objective as they had to change the original LRR database from its once weekly CD format to fit in with the redeveloped LOD. Unlike the LOD, the LRR was based on a flat, but over complex system. The system was then scaled up to include records from Experian.
Seamless integration of all the databases with access via a single address file is an integral part of EGi’s aim to have a definitive set of information available on every desktop in the property industry.