INSPIRE Ordnance Survey SDI Thoughts

Place matters: the Location Strategy for the UK

Finally after an extended delay the Dept of Communities and Local Government has published the UK location strategy, Place matters. The blueprint for a UK Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI), or an extended job application for someone in Southampton…

You decide !

Written and submitted from the Google Office, London.

5 replies on “Place matters: the Location Strategy for the UK”

At 38 pages, surprisingly light for something that has taken 2.5 years to emerge into the public domain. Not particularly controversial either – why the delay in publishing one wonders?
Initial thoughts:
1) Very welcome news that someone recommends sorting out the derived data issue but para 48 pg 22 smacks of Asbestos Towers.
2) Will the “Location Council” be embedded in Defra and therefore embedded in Whitehall politics so that Local Government interests get sidelined?
3) Will the recommendation to produce core reference geographies lead to a re-opening of the NSAI debacle with another OS attempt at a hostile takeover of NLPG?
4) Very welcome recommendations about improving knowledge about GI in the wider governmental community, senior managers, and IT professionals. Finally giving them some locational awareness?
5) Where is the money coming from to fund this once the current borrowing and spending frenzy is over?

I think the idea of the ‘Location Council’ is a good idea (though ‘council’ always seems to be the wrong word!) – but only if it has any kind of actual power, and the willingness to embrace both the private and public sectors. It needs to be viewed as an enabling body, not a red-tape organisation. And it needs to work in a kind of ‘open source’ way, rather than closing the door to organisations that are low on money/resources.

My worry is that it takes its lead from the INSPIRE directive. Scratch the surface, and both are really concerned with making sure government agencies can exchange (and sell) data for statistical analysis purposes – very important for service planning and performance reporting, but not really freeing up basic location info for the public. In fact it practically dismisses the latter in paragraph 13, as if it’s not significant enough to be covered by the strategy.

Then in para 48 it goes to great lengths to avoid treading on anyone else’s toes about addressing the “derived data” issue: “The simplification should take account of the trading nature of the owners of the Core Reference Geographies and should not duplicate the Government’s separate review of the pricing of public sector information by trading funds.” If the Location Council takes this attitude, it certainly won’t be an enabling body.

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