• This page:A selection of collaborative geodata projects.
  • Status : Completed [sub pages to be added in a future release]
  • First published: 16 March 2019

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Linked Open Data Cloud April 2019 reflects good progress but is geodata integrity resolved?

The nature of collaboration:

This article covers the period from the mid 1980's to 2011.

OS grew out of a military operation but it always had some form of collaborative activity - but this page is not about trying to document them all.

The aim of this set is to illustrate some of the projects and developments during this period and document some of the lessons learned.

One of the byproducts of collaboration is a mutual learning process - how to do things and how not to do things. It may not always be deliberate or even conscious objective at the time but those lessons provide valuable feedback. In the late 1990s on a number of occasions ad hoc discussions led to liaison meetups and provided evidence. Very often pragmatism was the solution and this helped, especially the structured data work [Project Morph - Topo96 - OS MasterMap].

Later on the work focused much more on data integration and joined-up geography.

Cooperation works in many ways and can lead to operational projects or simple exchanges of information through seminars. Very often 80% of the value can be obtained though short documented workshop(s). The types of liaison and activity are shown below with some selected examples.


Networks for knowledge sharing:

Several "societies or associations" were set up to support cooperation. The international bodies that bring together the survey community [FIG], imagery community [ISPRS} and cartographic community [ICA] are well established. They do some good work especially ISPRS. At the European level OEEPE was formed in the 1950s to share information about aerial photography methods and UK joined in 1980 [signed off by the Foreign Secretary] - the organisation reinvented itself at the start of the millennium is now called EuroSDR. EuroGeographics [Ex CERCO is the association of NMCA heads]. Within the UK the Association for Geographic Information was born out pf Lord Chorley's Report into GI.

These are probably not the kind of networks that the neogeo community would enjoy too much?


Standards are important but these cannot be created ab inito. They need to be grounded on experience and best practice. This is how the OGC helped from the mid '90s onwards by operating and documenting testbeds. ISO often appeared to offering something too little too late, but their cooperation eventually led to more of a symbiotic relationship. More recently data is becoming lighter and more distributed eg GeoJSON and Linked Data and this process of evolution will continue.

Research & Technology Tracking:

There were numerous collaborative research projects, far too many to record here. These included the Topo Database Trials in the late 1980s working with three local authorities. The N's projects included National Land Use Database, National Land Information System (with the supporting Property and Street Gazetteers) as well as the National Geospatial Data Framework.

Later projects like Orchestra explored web services. The research list is extensive and supported a wide range of university collaboration, especially from the late 1990s onwards when we invited geodata experts to work in project challenges in the summer holiday period.

Thematic Response:

The issue of data integration becomes clear in any desktop GIS when disparate datasets are overlaid and the discrepancies become crystal clear. The projects below explored these issues in different ways in an attempt to identify the core issues and soltuons to them.

Data Frameworks & Infrastucrures:

The final group recognise all the issues above and attempt to move the wider infrastructure to a more holistic and easier to use environment. A key issue is managing expectations - since the differences in the islands or data are both technical and legal. They are also very significant in terms of reaching an agreement on a data framework and committing organisations to migrate to the new world.

The collaborative projects below outline steps taken towards the goal of joined up geography since the turn of the millennium.

Last Updated: 19 April 2019
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10 May 2019