Looking Backwards and Forwards

The first day of the year back at work is probably a pretty good time to look back at what we achieved last year and outline what we hope to do over the coming year.

After a considerable time planning and seeking the necessary support from various interested parties we were given some funding which allowed the Collective Approach to Inspire and the SDI for Scottish Local Government Programme to get under way.  The Spatial Data Audit was described in my previous blog posting, as was the high level of support from councils and others.

Progress has been steady with the three pilot datasets selected at the workshop being processed into what will finally be collated into national datasets and then published for OSMA members and beyond.  There have been reservations at the datasets chosen, these being Tree Preservation Orders, Greenbelt Land and Town Centres, as these are probably not the most valuable to the community and beyond.  However, the Working Group reckoned that every council had a statutory requirement to hold them, that they appeared relatively straightforward to process and that they provided sample data to try out different technologies.  The datasets are almost complete, with only 4 out of the 32 councils still to supply the data for their areas, which, whilst frustrating, was one of the risks identified in the thinkWhere’s Spatial Data Audit Report.

At this stage, the schemas for the pilot datasets have been investigated and, in the case of Greenbelt Land, used in FME (Feature Manipulation Engine) to create a conflated dataset with a common schema. Some further investigation is required in the wider utilisation and alignment of Tree Preservation Orders and more detailed consultation is required for schema development and finalisation for these datasets.

We are ready to move onto the next stage of determining how to publish the national datasets. This appears to be relatively straightforward with a number of options but this therefore gives us more work in determining which option best provides a sustainable and cost effective service.  The next stage will be in investigating the processes required to maintain the data into the future. Open-source software and formats using Web Feature Services offer significant potential, but any capability will need to be interoperable within a hybrid wider environment and ensure maximum leverage of commercial software capabilities.

As this work proceeds, a consultation with the wider OSMA community (and beyond) is beginning to assess what are the priority datasets which will generate the greatest benefits.  It is clear that prioritising isn’t going to be particularly easy given the diverse range of organisations and functions involved and it seems likely that some of the governance already in place around OSMA and spatial information in general will be called upon to assist.  It is already clear that there are a number of themes emerging which will have their own priorities and perhaps solutions which a potential number of delivery partners. At the moment the emphasis is on planning but land and property plays a significant role and has links to the completion of the Land Register in Scotland, with all titles to public sector assets proposed to be registered within 5 years.  Initial estimates of the cost of this to local government alone are “very substantial”.

The output of the above will provide the evidence for the final business case. In the interim, an outline business case / work programme has been developed for the fiscal year 2015-16 to increase the momentum and is currently awaiting its course through the governance process.

Other notable things which happened at the end of 2014 was the completion of the migration of the One Scotland Gazetteer from what was formerly the National Infrastructure into a cloud environment.  This was a long process which required considerable Project Management inputs from thinkWhere but now that it is complete in puts the OSG into a much more stable environment.

Also at the end of 2014 the much anticipated announcement in the Autumn Statement about the Ordnance Survey’s future arrangements failed to materialise.  From those who have additional agreements with OS beyond OSMA this has left some uncertainty in how we approach future possible agreements, but for now it has to be assumed that things will remain as they are for the immediate future.

Iain

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