Skills and software from Port Elizabeth are helping the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality on the Gauteng East Rand to update the valuation roll of around 700 000 properties.

A team of 25 geographic information system (GIS) and geography graduates mainly from the Nelson Mandela University will be working on the valuation for next seven months, according to a project leader Ross Cogan of Point of Interest Consulting (POI).

The company will be using cloud-based software developed by another Port Elizabeth company, OVVIO.

POI has partnered with OVVIO Software for the project, which was awarded through an open tender.

It has created 25 jobs for graduates, most of whom have no formal work experience.

“In order to complete a project of this vast size (roughly 700 000 properties) within the stipulated time-frame, it was necessary to create a dedicated team which will work out of our Central Offices,” says Cogan.

“The OVVIO software that is being used is capable of accessing and processing all the existing property and ownership information on a municipal database.

“Of the 15 data entries that need to be captured, collection of around two-thirds of the information is currently being processed and then will be automated by the POI Team using GIS Software and then uploaded into OVVIO.”

The remainder of the information will have to be manually captured by the 25 graduates and the POI team.

“This will give them valuable work experience,” says Cogan.

They were recruited through the university network by Cogan and his partners Brendon Watkiss and Stephen du Preez, who contacted their former lecturers in the Geography and GIS departments.

New workstations have been purchased for those students who do not have their own laptops.

“Everyone has a comfortable place to sit and Internet connectivity, as well as all the other facilities needed for day-to-day operations – including lots of coffee.

“Over the next seven months they will also get exposed to some of the other projects on which we are working in order to ensure they gain the maximum professional benefit from the contract,” says Watkiss.