Geospatial Standards and Skills Discussion - Historic Environment Community


Geospatial Standards and Skills Discussion - Historic Environment Community


Starting 27 January 2022 10:00 through to 27 January 2022 13:00

User Portrait Created by Jack Shaw

This live discussion will be held on Thursday 27th January in the Historic Environment Community. If you would like to ask a question, please leave a comment below or follow the link provided. Feel free to post any further questions or thoughts after the event has finished. The discussion will be hosted by Heather Papworth and Matthew Jestico from Helyx, and Emily Latrobe-Bateman from Historic England. Use the 'add to calendar' function to create a calendar placeholder. Use the 'EVENT PAGE' link to join the discussion.

Edmund Lee 5 Months Ago

It would be really interesting to hear if the geospatial skills for heritage work are the same as those used in other disciplines, or if there is something specific to heritage work that we need to train heritage practitioners in.

Martin Labram 5 Months Ago

Hello Everybody,

I am a retired IT professional but am now a moderately active member of the Berkshire Archaeological Society and annual volunteer to Reading University archaeological department’s excavations (Silchester etc.). In the society, we run earth resistivity and magnetometry surveys, a little excavation, significant desk-based research in context of the historic Berkshire county and surrounding region, and publish our own journal.

I think it’s only too easy to assume that the meaning of stuff like ‘geospatial standards’ is the same for all. So here’s my starter-for-ten.

[A] For me, ‘geospatial’ implies a context within a region of the Earth’s surface, i.e. referenced to longitude & latitude (or equivalent) in some way.

[B] For me, the creation of standards and/or best-practice guidance implies at least the following.

​​​​​​​Purpose: standards are a response to a need and have a life-cycle.

Security: the resources will be safeguarded against naïve interventions and results will be documented (archaeology is destructive!).

Communication: confusion is removed and clarity of expression increased using common terms, definitions, logic/algorithms and visualisations.

Efficiency: we don’t want to be always reinventing the wheel.

Knowledge transfer: the themes and more detailed content give some direction to valuable paths for teaching and learning.

Credibility: a statement of conformance to a standard is a shorthand way for documenting methods etc. and also a statement of adequacy & acceptability of the work.

I am a little ambivalent about accreditation as it can exclude those with most experience who have been working productively in the appropriate field from before the standards or qualification were first created or those who have abilities and qualifications in overlapping areas (which the standards writers themselves might not be familiar with).

[C] For me, ‘skills’ implies a person has a track record in successfully performing (or contributing in a definable way to the performance of) a task or using a resource. The identification of skills has a lot to do with training, recruitment, access to & responsibility for resources/tasks, and reward systems. A challenge with skills is to specify the depth of understanding or range/scope of usage, not just the topic. For instance, the mathematics underlying a compressed media format such as jpeg is not trivial and most successful users of the file format will have no idea how the compression works. An oscilloscope may have advanced time-base controls but that doesn’t stop most people from operating one successfully in relatively mundane applications. A team is rarely built from individuals with identical skills, yet the team’s success may depend on the cooperative efforts of all the individuals together.

I hope that during the course of the event some of the above is covered and proves interesting and useful.


Jack Shaw 5 Months ago in reply to Martin Labram .

Hi Martin,


Thank you for your comments, I will make sure a member of the project team is able to get back to you tomorrow.


All the best,