GoGeo Mobile has been released

The GoGeo Mobile iPhone App was created bgogeoAppy EDINA at the University of Edinburgh to support teaching, learning and research.

Jisc provided support for the GoGeo App project as part of its commitment to encourage the use of new and emerging technology to support research and learning in the UK.

GoGeo Mobile is an app that allows users to keep abreast of news and events in the geospatial sector. GoGeo Mobile is separated into a number of channels including News, Events, Jobs and Resources for Teachers. Each channel contains useful and relevant resources for anyone working with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Remote Sensing or spatial data.

In addition, GoGeo Mobile allows users to perform targeted searches for spatial data. Searches can be defined by keyword and/or location and return a brief description of the data and users can then forward themselves a direct URL to the metadata record so they can download the data when they are back at their desk.

Compatibility: Requires iOS 7.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimised for iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus.

You can download the GoGeo Mobile App from the UK iTunes App Store.

Please provide feedback to edina@ed.ac.uk with GoGeo App entered in the subject field of your email.

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Ordnance Survey to become a GovCo at the end of the financial year

OS

Matthew Hancock MP has just posted this statement regarding the status of the OS. 

I am today announcing the Government’s intention to change Ordnance Survey from a Trading Fund to a Government Company at the end of the financial year.
The change is operational in nature, and is aimed at improving Ordnance Survey’s day-to-day efficiency and performance. It will provide the organisation with a more appropriate platform from which to operate, and one which provides greater individual and collective responsibility for performance.
Ordnance Survey will remain under 100% public ownership with the data remaining Crown property, with ultimate accountability for the organisation staying with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Further to this change, in the coming weeks I will also be setting out more details on how Ordnance Survey will be building on its existing extensive support for the Government’s Open Data policy and on some senior appointments which will further strengthen the management team.

Ordnance Survey exists in a fast moving and developing global market. There has been rapid technology change in the capture and provision of mapping data, and increasingly sophisticated demands from customers who require data and associated services – including from government. To operate effectively, Ordnance Survey needs to function in an increasingly agile and flexible manner to continue to provide the high level of data provision and services to all customers in the UK and abroad, in a cost effective way, open and free where possible. Company status will provide that.

Mapping data and services are critical in underpinning many business and public sector functions as well as being increasingly used by individuals in new technology. Ordnance Survey sits at the heart of the UK’s geospatial sector. Under the new model, the quality, integrity and open availability of data will be fully maintained, and in future, improved. Existing customers, partners and suppliers will benefit from working with an improved organisation more aligned to their commercial, technological and business needs.
The relationship with Government will be articulated through the Shareholder Framework Agreement alongside the Company Articles of Association. The change will be subject to final Ministerial approval of these governance matters.

Ordnance Survey will also continue to publish a statement of its public task, to subscribe to the Information Fair Trader Scheme and comply with the relevant Public Sector Information Regulations, including Freedom of Information legislation, and make as much data as possible openly available to a wide audience of users.

The statement can be found here.

 

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How can Public Data Group data be made more accessible and useful?

This survey invitation just came across twitterland, so dropping it into GoGeo blogland. This is certainly important to monitor as it refers to the Ordnance Survey, and these other public sector bodies as well.

PDG

“The Public Data Group (PDG) brings together four public sector bodies – Companies House, Land Registry, Met Office and Ordnance Survey – that collect, refine, manage and distribute data on the nation’s companies, property, weather and geography.

The Public Data Group’s data is made available through a variety of channels and licenses and includes both commercial agreements and the provision of Open Data.

The value of the data that is charged for is vast – with Ordnance Survey data widely used in the insurance sector, and the billions of pounds saved by the use of Met Office data in the aviation industry as just two examples. Equally, the value of the Open Data released by the Public Data Group is very significant and growing. The most recent estimate placed the value of Open Data released by PDG at over £900m annually.

Data is of increasing importance to the economy, driving innovation and opening a range of new possibilities for businesses.

Although the PDG organisations have a commitment to make as much data freely available as possible, they have to balance this commitment with other requirements such as maintaining the quality of the data, covering the costs of the collection and distribution of the data, and avoiding cross subsidising one data set from another. Companies House has recently committed to making its digital information available free of charge in 2015 but for Land Registry, Met Office and Ordnance Survey some data is charged for.

How you can help

We are keen that the charges for public data do not act as a barrier for those just starting their business or developing their product. There are already some ‘Developer Licenses’ available that allow usage of charged for PDG data for free under certain criteria and the intention is to enhance and expand these further. We are also keen to understand if PDG data is widely known of and if users find it convenient to utilise so that future development work and publicity can be better targeted.

The purpose of this survey is therefore to seek your views on:

  1. Your awareness of the PDG data that is available;
  2. Any issues you face using PDG data; and
  3. How ‘Developer Licenses’ should be designed to most meet user needs.

More can be found here, including access to the seven page online survey.”

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Jisc’s call for research data management ideas (Research Data Spring). Please cast your vote for the Cloud Work Bench proposal

researchATrisk

As part of their effort to create new solutions to common research problems, Jisc are looking for ideas from individuals and groups with an interest in research data. Please submit your ideas to promote solutions, and offer fresh perspectives for facilitating research data management. Everyone is also invited to vote for their favourite idea, or against other ideas! A simple registration is required in order to participate.

In particular, Research Data Spring is interested in ideas that make it easier to manage research data, especially from the researchers’ perspective (in addition to protocols mentioned within the first theme); in this context, it includes the re-use of data. In other words, Research Data Spring is seeking ideas that will smooth the processes of data management, deposit and re-use within the research lifecycle. This area is closely related with “data creation, deposit and re-use”, but the two are split in order to emphasize that some ideas might be focusing on generic data management support and related protocols and solutions for deposit and re-use, while others would address key disciplinary and cross-disciplinary research aspects.

As of today, the following 25 ideas have been submitted for voters’ considerations:

  • Streamlining Deposit: An OJS to Repository Plugin
  • Badges as a proxy for peer review of data
  • Standards and Schemas for Digital Research Notebooks
  • The Lab Box: Solve local backup, work towards rich metadata
  • Exchanging experience on RDM integration and interoperability
  • Research Data Infrastructure for the Visual Arts (RDIVA)
  • Provenance and Packaging
  • Standard protocol for research equipment
  • A metadata standard to enable automated genealogy generation
  • Mock idea: note that title is limited to 68 characters
  • Integrated RDM toolkit/service
  • Data browsing tools for repositories
  • Collaboration tool for qualitative data analysis
  • One page micro repositories
  • Symplectic for RDM purposes
  • DAF Question Bank
  • BOOKISH: Infrastructure Sharing for the NLS
  • Workshops/Training on Stakeholder Support of Researchers
  • Data retrieval via persistent identifiers (DOIs)
  • Exporting from DMPonline to data journals
  • Linked data notebook
  • Use semantic desktop to capture contextual research data
  • Streamline repository submissions from Zotero profiles
  • Research Data requirements vocabulary
  • Cloud Work Bench

The one idea submitted that is relevant to the geo-community comes from EDINA at the University of Edinburgh, and below is a summary of the proposal. If you find it an idea worth supporting, please visit the Research Data Spring website and cast your vote.

Cloud Work Bench

The concept of Cloud Work Bench (CWB) is quite simple – to provide researchers in the geospatial domain (GI Scientists, geomaticians, GIS experts, spatial disciplines) the tools, storage and data persistence they require to conduct research without the need to manage the same in a local context that can be fraught with socio-technical barriers that impede the actual research. By streamlining the availability and deployment of open source software tools, by supporting auto-generated web services and using open data, the work bench concept is geared towards removing the barriers that are inherent in geospatial research workflows – how to deploy the tools you want and have the storage and data management capabilities without the overhead of doing it all yourself. Think of it as an academic Dropbox with additional geospatial software tools and data thrown in…

We propose piloting the CWB approach within the geospatial research community which has a well established and broad user base across academia and industry (reflected for example via the uptake of Jisc’s flagship Digimap service), and also has a mature open source toolset and data stack which are prerequisites to conducting research e.g. Open Street Map, Ordnance Survey Open data, Postgis, Geoserver, GDAL/OGR.

We anticipate that the CWB concept will be transferable to other domain and disciplinary contexts e.g. statistics.

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EDINA Geo Services at GeoDATA London Showcase 2014

Early this month, EDINA Geodata Services held an exhibit at the GeoDATA Showcase 2014 event in London. This was our second time to exhibit at this event which is aimed primarily at the commercial end of the GI industry covering current data and technology topics. This follows on from other events in the series as described previously on the GoGeo Blog.

A summary of the talks can be found online.

We had a small stand, but the positive responses we got from visitors was very encouraging: from students who are currently using Digimap in their studies, to the lecturer in a university who said that Digimap was a great resource and essential to his teaching. Even more encouraging was the number of delegates and staff on other stands, with successful careers in the GI industry, who came up and said that they had used Digimap during their studies and it was a vital to their degree. It’s good to know that the future generations in the GI industry have the expectation that they will have easy access to high quality geospatial data, readily available from Digimap (at least while they are in education!).

We talked to delegates from a wide range of industries including environmental consultancies, government, data providers, local councils, defence and education as well as visiting and talking to many of the other exhibitors. We got a lot of useful feedback on what we’re doing and ideas for what we could be doing in the future including potential opportunities for collaboration. Of particular interest to delegates was the Fieldtrip GB app we were demonstrating which is a mobile data collection platform – especially once the magic word ‘free’ was mentioned, and also that there is an Open version available on Github.

Mince pies and mulled wine near the end were a welcome break from a long day, so busy that we didn’t actually get a chance to attend any of the talks, many of which looked very interesting, however it was a very useful event to attend. We look forward to next year’s event on the 3rd December 2015.

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Open Geographies from the UK Data Service

UKDataServiceThe UK Data Service Census Support team is pleased to announce the recent release of a major update to its services.

In line with enabling wider access to open data resources the existing Census geography services have been updated to provide full open access without registration to all users.

Data which is openly licensed is thus available to any user without restriction through all the various Census geography services.

A list of the full range of data available can be viewed at the Census Support Boundary Data Selector.

Those data which fall under Open Government Licence (OGL) are available to all users, free of charge at point of use.

Some Non-OGL data is still subject to access restrictions that require login and existing service users with registered accounts may login as normal to access these.

We have also revised our online service help, provided access to a range of eLearning modules on various aspects of UK geographies and also harmonised some of the nomenclature in use so it aligns better with that promoted by the Office of National Statistics Geography policies.

UK Data Service Census Geography Team welcome feedback on these changes and any suggestions on how they might improve their range of services.

 

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Views from Geodata 2014 event at Glasgow Science Centre

Conor Smyth, Head of Research and Geodata Services at EDINA shares his thoughts on this annual event….I attended the annual international Geodata 2014 ‘Innovative Thinking, Creative Solutions’ seminar event series held this week at the Glasgow Science Centre – an excellent (and fun!!) event venue located along the re-developed banks of the River Clyde.

The Geodata seminar series, now in its 12th year, has managed to build a significant following over the years. In addition to being a ‘free’ event – the programme offers delegates the opportunity to hear from those at the centre of geographic information technology, industry innovators, as well as offering excellent networking opportunities. With an adjoining exhibition too, delegates can also gain insight into the latest developments in technology and equipment and even become members of organisations such as AGI, RICS and BCS. To round off the event’s attractiveness, delicious ‘treats’ are always served at the last break before event close – certainly a nice touch that keeps the delegate numbers up to the end!

This year’s event was very well attended, with the usual varied mix of presentations, real life case studies and examples of best practice. In addition to the initial ‘Ignite’ talks, where all exhibitors were allowed 1 minute air time, the event had 13 presentations – across 4 sessions – given by a number of commercial providers (some more known than others) as well as public sector and/or membership organisations (BGS, the British Cartographic Society and the Association for Geographic Information). There were approximately 14 exhibitor stands at the event.

Whilst I did not get the opportunity to attend all the talks, I was suitably impressed with the 1spatial presentation ‘We’ve got a situation. Build us a web-GIS….and quickly’ who demonstrated how map services created by ArcGIS for Server and other external map services can be published as fully operational web-GIS in a matter of minutes, without having to programme. For me, the best presentation of the day was the last presentation presented by the AGI’s Abigail Page entitled ‘Horizon Scanning’. Abigail gave a strong, inspiring and very personal account of developments and trends in geospatial, including key ‘take-aways’ from the AGIs very successful programme of events across the UK this year on the theme of ‘The Big Five’ (that started in Glasgow back in March 2014 on the subject of Future Cities).

I look forward to attending the Geodata 2015 event next year, planned for a ‘to be announced’ venue in Edinburgh. Before then, EDINA staff will be present manning an exhibition stand at the Geodata 2014 showcase London event at the Ilec conference centre in London on the 4th December 2014. Hopefully, another successful showcase event like last years!

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New detailed online maps covering post-War Edinburgh and London

Tony and I were contacted yesterday by our colleague Chris Fleet, Senior Map Curator at the National Library of Scotland with the exciting news that NLS have made freely available their earliest editions of Ordnance Survey National Grid maps at 1:1250 scale covering Edinburgh and London.  These were Ordnance Survey’s most detailed maps in the 20th century, and they show nearly all permanent features of over 1 square metre in size. They show excellent detail of commercial and residential buildings, railway stations, pubs, hotels, docks, factories and parks, as well as house names and numbers.

The maps can be viewed as a georeferenced overlay and as a dual-map / side-by-side viewer, allowing direct comparison with modern Google or Bing maps:

Edinburgh   georeferenced overlay    side-by-side viewer

London         georeferenced overlay    side-by-side viewer

Chris tells us this mapping layer will expand geographically over the next year as NLS continue to scan more OS National Grid post-War mapping.  To whet your appetite we’ve added a few sample London maps below.

King's Cross and St Pancras Stations

King’s Cross and St Pancras Stations

Isle of Dogs docks

Isle of Dogs docks

South Bank Festival of Britain site

South Bank Festival of Britain site

Chris would love you to come and visit the NLS site and browse through these fantastic 1940s-1960s maps for Edinburgh and London.

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Big Data discussions

On Tuesday, Conor Smyth, Head of Research and Geodata Services at EDINA attended the fourth Geo: The Big 5 event on Big Data hosted at IBM HQ, London.

The objective of the event was to provide a forum for knowledge exchange of the opportunities that flow from the nexus of big data and location to private and public sector businesses, incorporating technical concepts, business value and real-world use cases.

Around 90 delegates attended.  Conor observed, unfortunately, that academic representation was low amongst those 160 as those attending came to hear a number of excellent Keynote and invited speakers deliver presentations in dual stream (strategy and technical) conference programme format covering themes relating to:

Concepts – What is big data, how does location augment it and why should I care?

Data Management – Hasn’t location data always been big?

Predictive Analytics – What does location bring to the party?

Use Cases and real applications – Where is big data and location really adding business value?

Conor’s summary of the keynotes points to a set of particularly interesting speakers:

Harvey Lewis, Director of Data and Analytics research at Deloitte introduced the three Ws of ‘Big Data: What, Why, WHERE?’ WHAT is it? WHY is it important? WHERE does it come from and WHERE is it going?

Dr Phil Tetlow, Chief Architect for Big Data at IBM (UK) provided an excellent presentation on ‘The Power of Spimes’, the combination of space and time information (Spime) to create something compelling (i.e. value) that differentiate organisations in the marketplace.

Mike Whiteledge, Senior Insight Manager, (Information Management team), Marks and Spencer focused on the challenges and opportunities of the changing retail environment and customer behaviour coupled with technological advances in data handling capabilities that has allowed M&S to refine their customer offer and channel to market driving overall business benefit through the use of geographical data.

I particularly like the M&S example. I recently presented to the Scottish Learning Festival on ensuring tomorrow’s workforce are spatially literate. I highlighted the number of sectors that use geographic information and why teachers should be making use of the learning outcomes within the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence to ensure pupils at secondary schools are familiar with geographic information in an ICT setting. Wish I’d had the M&S example for that session!

Getting back to Geo: The Big 5 event, other speakers provided sectoral representation from Google, Ordnance Survey, Consultancy, Technology and Telecommunication areas.

Conor’s overall view was the event was upbeat, informative, very engaging and an excellent opportunity to hear, meet and learn from some of the leading thinkers in this space, in addition to wider networking opportunities throughout the day. But he did feel it disappointing that academic representation was low. And this sentiment follows on last month’s post on why attend commercial events – grounding oneself in how industry today are making use of GI is useful for us all.

The event forms part of a year-long series of activities marking the 25th Anniversary of the AGI and material from each event will inform a series of white papers, leading to the publication of the AGI’s third foresight report predicting future trends through to 2020.

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Why attending commercial events?

I have already written a review of GeoBusiness 2014.  But I thought it was worth writing something about the nature of the event and the interaction between different sectors.

What is GeoBusiness and why was it different?

GeoBusiness is a new event.  As the name suggests, its focus is very much on businesses.  The event had 3 sides to it:

  1. Exhibition –  hardware, software and solutions from the UK sector
  2. Exhibitor workshops – exhibitors ha the chance to run workshop sessions to showcase their products
  3. Formal conference – talks by GI practitioners covering best practices and discussing the next big things in the GI sector

Why was this significant?  Well it gave attendees 3 options and allowed them to mix and match.  Not everyone is interested in listening to formal presentations, while others most certainly are.  This is, in my opinion, the key to attracting GI users from different sectors.  Once you have them all in the same place, interaction will happen. Especially if you timetable in plenty of mingling time.   At Geobusiness we saw companies that were selling the hardware to collect data, data collectors and data consumers all mixing and exchanging experiences and knowledge.

It also brought users from right across the sector together in one place.  Those that design the kit to collect data, the data collectors and the data consumers were all well represented and they had a heavily discounted rate for students.

Why should students attend these event?

For any student with GIS skills this event really was a golden opportunity to scout out potential employers.  OK, you can do some of this on the net, but rocking up to a stand and having a chat with people from the company can give you a much better insight into the organisation.  I am not talking about simply asking them if they have any jobs available, a better approach may be to ask them about recent projects or the tech that they use.  You should then be able to enquire about graduate programs or mention things from your course that are related to what they do.  This is networking.  Some people are really good at it, others just don’t feel comfortable.  The key to it is making sure that the person you are networking does most of the talking.  This takes the pressure off you and usually makes them feel like the chat went well.

Following up 

I am not sure i would recommend giving out CVs at an event.  Most people come away with a heap of paper which rarely gets looked at again Your CV may well get lost.  A better approach might be to take a business card from the person you have chatted to and send them a brief email a few days later (not that evening, their inbox will be stuffed with missed emails that have accumulated while they have been out the office).  Remind them who you are and that you think that the company sounds like one you would want to work for and ask their advice on how to apply.  It is worth checking the current vacancies page first for information about graduate jobs and current vacancies.

If you don’t have a named contact, then get a CV and covering letter together that match your skills to the companies work and send them off.  I would mention in the covering letter that you visited the company’s stand at a recent event.

Conclusions

Attending events can seem like a jolly, and i suppose they can be. But they are important events that bring lots of like-minded professionals together in the same place.  For an graduate, or an early career professional, such events are a gold mine of potential contact and even future employers. However, you get out what you put it. Be prepared and do your homework.

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