The Government’s Geospatial Commission has said every geographical object in the UK should have a unique identifier or code.
It has highlighted the importance of the move in its newly published Linked Identifiers Best Practice Guide for geospatial data, aimed at supporting organisations working with the relevant datasets.
The commission said that following the guidance will make it quicker and easier to obtain an exact overview of the information on a particular location, thereby saving time and money.
Currently they have to search across different datasets in tasks such as managing a road network or responding to an emergency; but if a linked identifier is attached to each object at a location it will make it easier to link them together.
The document points to the Government Digital Service having highlighted the importance of different types of organisation from the public and private sectors using identifiers that continue to mean the same thing over time. This helps re-users of data from different sources to understand and combine it.
It provides nine steps to designing identifier schemes, including ensuring that identifier assignments are fixed, maximising their traceability over time, making them easy to publish on the web and comprehensively documenting the scheme.
It also outlines other considerations around using common reference data, providing support services for identifiers and comprehensively linking documents to other datasets.
Some of the steps provide a clear recommendation of best practice while others outline viable options.
Thalia Baldwin, director of the Geospatial Commission, said: “This guide is part of the Geospatial Commission’s £5 million investment into our partner bodies to make the data held by them more easily discoverable, simplifying their licensing landscapes and identifying ways of linking data from different agencies.
“I would like to thank them for their hard work in working together to publish this guide today to respond to user needs.”
Image from Environment Agency CC BY 2.0