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Improvement Service spreads funds to improve Scotland’s geospatial data


Scotland’s Improvement Service is beginning to distribute £250,000 to the country’s local authorities to support the improvement of their geospatial data.

The programme is being run by its Spatial Information Service (SIS), which is working with the councils to identify specific areas for improvement.

Iain McKay, head of spatial information at the Improvement Service – which supports local authorities around Scotland in various initiatives – told UKAuthority it is distributing the money according to a formula that could amount up to £20,000 each for the larger authorities. It is aiming to pass it all on by the end of May.

He said SIS has built an understanding of where the work needs to be done through a series of discussions over the past six months.

Specific problems

“We’re able to identify that specific councils have specific problems with the data and to avoid the duplication of effort,” he said. “For example, one council may have a very good gazetteer but its details around planning are not so good.”

The organisation is taking a light touch approach in not setting strict timeframes for the work, but expects to see improvements emerge over the next 12 months and plans to share the lessons through its own community and KHub network for local government.

It will make the data from the local authorities available through its Spatial Hub, which is currently only available to its member organisations, although it is looking at developing a commercial licensing model that would provide access to private sector bodies.

“If a commercial organisation wishes to licence a geospatial dataset it currently has to contact all 32 councils, and may not get responses from all of them,” McKay said. “It makes sense to concentrate it into one place.

“People have indicated to us there could be a market in which they would be willing to pay, and we would be making the money to re-invest back into local government.”

Gazetteer priority

SIS collects and standardises geospatial data for public services through data sharing agreements with local authorities. McKay said that one of its current priorities is to improve the quality of its street and address gazetteer to feed into the development of an emergency services gazetteer in a project led by Police Scotland.

It has also been sharing what it has learned with the Geospatial Commission and Local Government Authority.

Image by macroflight, CC BY-2.0 through flickr

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