SORTool Overview

Value is at the heart of how and why we innovate. The SORTool is one example of Temple’s innovation in practise.

Developed to address specific client needs, the SORTool is a bespoke GIS-based tool that was initially designed to aid the understanding of benefits and impacts of linear infrastructure schemes. It has subsequently been developed further to also support the appraisal of site suitability. It is particularly suited to fascilitate the quantitative comparison between options, be those routes or sites, to support the decision-making process.

The SORTool brings value in multiple forms:

  • An automated approach saves time and cost
  • A process that is repeatable providing confidence outputs are comparable over geography and time
  • Outputs form an audit trail to help demonstrate how decisions were reached
  • Integrated solution to consider cumulative spatial effects of options
  • Flexible and customisable to meet project needs

How does it work?

The inputs to the SORTool are two sets of GIS data:

  • Inputs to appraise: either a set of linear features or site locations
  • A set of features (point, line, or polygons) that form the basis of the appraisal

The tool will calculate intersection impacts between the inputs and each feature layer. In addition, proximity impacts can be appraised by including buffer thresholds for each feature layer. Multiple thresholds can be included and each feature can have its own bespoke thresholds to allow for various sensitivities to be incorporated.

The output is a report that shows quantified metrics for the interactions of each input with each feature layer. This allows route/site performance to be compared and contrasted and gives an indication on better performing options. Also outputted are the GIS layers of the interactions, which allow maps to be produced, or further analysis on the spatial locations of impacts.

Project experience - High Speed 2 Limited

High Speed 2 Limited (HS2 Ltd) appointed Temple to advise on the sustainability performance for both Phase One (London to the West Midlands) and Phase Two (West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds) of the HS2 scheme. Temple was commissioned to prepare an AoS Report to support recommendations to Government. This required the development of a bespoke methodology that met legal requirements for the project.

To support the option selection process, innovative approaches to the application of GIS needed to be developed, including the SORTool allowing engineering information to be fully integrated within GIS and used to appraise sustainability impacts.

Between 2014 and 2017 the SORTool was used to appraise c.400 route options on HS2 Phase 2 and HS2’s studies on Northern Powerhouse Rail, to support the development of a preferred route for this phase of the scheme.

The SORTool speeded up the appraisal process, increasing data reliability and improving the audit trail as well as significantly reducing human effort (and therefore cost). The AoS process also demonstrated its robustness in standing up to legal challenges, including the HS2 judicial Review (culminating in the Supreme Court ruling in January 2014).

The SORTool delivers direct efficiencies and helps to de-risk the project in providing a robust and reliable evidence trail capable of withstanding third party challenge and scrutiny. The benefits of recording this process, where information requests for appraisal documentation were received many years later, demonstrates our robust approach can withstand the test.

Key Contact

Thomas Smeeton Senior Director - Environment