Sorry, there has been a bit of a break in my blog due to feedback about some previous posts and tweets but I think that is all now cleared up and has become history. I firmly believe that it is important to share views openly when they involve the many organisations represented under OSMA and, after all, any posts are only my take on things and thus are far from definitive, but I will learn from history!!
This past week has turned out to be a significant one for those involved in GI in the Scottish public sector on a number of fronts. The negotiations for the replacement OSMA have certainly moved ahead, but reflecting on the various events in which I have taken part, it strikes me that the difference between where we were are this stage pre-OSMA in 2009 and where we are today is huge. (Did look for a better word to describe difference but the Thesaurus in Word suggested “Titanic” so stuck with huge.)
This week saw two OSMA user seminars being run in Glasgow on Monday and Inverness on Wednesday. These were well attended with around 50 OSMA members making it to the Glasgow event and I think around 15 to Inverness. These seminars are provided by Ordnance Survey and, as always, were very well organised.
The format on both days was similar with Ordnance Survey first describing their new products. This was followed by presentations and demonstrations of what has been going on over the last year or so in terms of collaborative partnerships, between groups of OSMA members and the Ordnance Survey, to build new products which reflected OSMA members requirements. These included Scotland’s GreenSpace Map and the Scottish Detailed Rivers Network (SDRN) and both involved a number of member organisations getting together to define, design and then create products which met a genuine purpose. In the past we all have created GI products because we technically could and it is always pleasing to build clever things “solutions needing problems”. The drivers for these two projects are (GreenSpace Map) to improve the health and well being of Scotland’s urban population by providing access to “green” areas and (SDRN) ultimately to reduce the number of homes flooded. The benefits are easily understandable and successes can be measured. We have really come a long way in a relatively short period of time from individual organisations telling other how they use OS products internally within their organisation for specific tasks – it bodes well for the new OSMA.
I had the opportunity to update those attending on progress with the renegotiation of OSMA. We discussed the overall requirements, the intention for a long term approach to encourage more of the good stuff above which can take several years to reach fruition, the business case, proposed funding model and ideas about how to manage it all. We looked at some of the projects being considered going forward and even had a wee think about addressing. I felt that the level of engagement with OSMA members was really encouraging. What was less encouraging was to return to my inbox today and finding emails from a few organisations asking for information about the new OSMA arrangements. I know that it is difficult to get support to travel but for something as significant as OSMA this was disappointing and actually a little cheeky, as they did not respond to last week’s email asking from feedback from those who weren’t planning to attend. However, they will get a response as inclusion is important.
Ah yes, addressing was mentioned. AddressBase is the way ahead for most but there are some things about it which really should be better and this has all been passed onto Ordnance Survey for consideration and early feedback is very positive – thank you.
One of the Ordnance Survey AddressBase slides was particularly excellent – if you have seen the AddressBase presentations you will remember the one of the “Property Lifecycle and the Sources of Data. The scores for data source credits on the slide were as follows:- HMLR 1 (contested), Local Government 8, Royal Mail 1 and Ordnance Survey 0. Contrast and compare with revenues from addressing:- HMLR unknown, Royal Mail c£27M, Ordnance Survey £6M-£9M, Local Government -£3M+ (remember Local Government pays to use addressing products). I can’t help feeling that someone should really have a close look at this as the playing field looks to have a distinct slope -like a cliff!
We had the second formal meeting with Ordnance Survey this week on the renegotiation and that made excellent progress. I obviously won’t go into details here but the bulk of the meeting focused on partnership and collaboration. Nice cakes too and even with Crown Copyright!
Yesterday was another thought provoking event. There is a outline proposal to consider revising the specification under which upland and moorland areas are mapped and as Scotland contains the vast majority of this within Great Britain there has been a consultation process carried out. Yesterday we heard the viewa of the major OSMA members who work in these geographies. Without going into the details too much, what happened was that each organisation from across the spectrum of OSMA members made a presentation based on their internal market research. Some predictable responses but also many surprises but what I took away from the day was that we have never been in this situation before where we seek consensus from those involved and then think about funding. Some are very keen other would find it useful but the business case in each organisation is so different that if we are to proceed down this route (and we must I think) we desperately need a governance structure that a) understands the complexity of the issues and b) controls the budgets.
In summary and reflecting on the past week, I realise that OSMA has changed more than I had perhaps fully appreciated and certainly is already far beyond a simple contract to supply a bundle of data products to the Scottish public sector. What is also encouraging is that there is the scope to disagree at times, without completely falling out over the issue and a growing understanding of each other’s position (I'm thinking of addressing) which is the sign of a maturing partnership. I’m looking forward to the next months of discussions and beyond that to doing something really good.
Plan to have more shorter blog entries in future for those who don’t follow on Twitter @iainwk