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UKHO highlights need for better management of marine geospatial data


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The UK needs common standards and a central repository for marine geospatial data, according to a new report from the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO).

It has published The future of UK marine geospatial with a call for increased collaboration among organisations, saying there has so far been a lack of co-ordination and strategic direction in the sector.

The document makes the point that geospatial data on British waters is essential to activities in offshore energy, conservation, security, tourism and trade.

It says there are currently around 30 public sector organisations collecting the data but no consistency how they do so, or store and retrieve it, which leads to information varying widely and being difficult to join up.

This creates the need for common data standards, underpinned by metadata, an improvement in the existing infrastructure and in-built intellectual property rights.

Need for transparency

There is also a need for more transparency and a common approach to data access to obtain the most value, as currently it is not always visible and often constricted by red tape.

In response, the sector needs a central catalogue and repository for existing data, and the sharing of data and survey plans should become routine. The UK should also work with other nations to access and share data internationally.

Another recommendation is for a commitment to the co-ordination of data collection by an appropriate agency. This should include sharing plans for collection activity and funding, and possibly involve open data initiatives between public and private sectors.

Underpinning these is a need for greater collaboration between organisations collecting the data, which can build a better picture of the environment and reduce duplication of effort.

Actionable blueprint

Commenting on the report’s findings, Chris Parry, project co-chair at the UKHO, said: “Through using best practice from PolicyLab, this evidence based report represents the first time the UK’s world leading marine geospatial community has come together to share and validate known and new challenges and opportunities.

“We hope this will be an invaluable resource to the entire community that helped to create it and helps to promote the critical role marine geospatial data plays in the sustainable use of our oceans; and provides an actionable blueprint for addressing our collective challenges and opportunities.”

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