Our response to the Geospatial Commission's call for evidence

In August the Geospatial Commission invited geospatial players to help shape the UK geospatial industry with its call for evidence to be a geospatial world leader.

This public consultation will help the industry support economic growth and unlock further value, which is estimated to be in the region of £11 billion a year. It will also play a significant role in setting the UK’s future geospatial vision, focusing on innovation, enhancing geospatial assets and driving investment.

OS has now responded to this call for evidence (PDF) ahead of a national geospatial strategy, sharing our insight and expertise as Britain’s National Mapping Agency (NMA) to support the vital work of the Commission.

We made it clear in our response that we stand ready to support the Geospatial Commission, as a partner body and in our role as an NMA. As experts in our field, we're excited by the opportunity which location data brings in both the public and private sectors. The creation of a Geospatial Commission for the UK recognises the critical opportunity just ahead – the chance to foster the strongest, most connected digital economy in the world.

Our recommendations in the OS response

Our recommendations included:

  • That the Commission takes a broad national view focused on the opportunity of geospatial information, and that this flows through into a new National Geospatial Strategy. The Strategy must take an outcome-focused, system-wide approach which extends beyond the management of public sector geospatial assets, to develop data infrastructure based on agreed principles of standardisation, interoperability and accessibility. Early policy areas of focus are land and property, infrastructure (e.g. ecological, social, energy or telecommunications), and mobility. Positive outcomes may also be achieved by exploring other key sectors such as health, financial services, and national security, and should not be overlooked.
  • That the Commission focuses on creating the necessary conditions for geospatial data to be standardised, analytic-ready, interoperable, federated, and capable of being consumed in a variety of different ways, on a variety of media and devices. If this can be realised, geospatial information will play a core and valuable role in the roll-out of new and emerging technologies, leading to better outcomes for users.
  • That the Commission looks to the international sphere for appropriate frameworks for thematic descriptions and definitions of geospatial data – drawing a clear ‘line of sight’ between international, national and regional stratagem. In particular, we recommend alignment with the UN Fundamental Geospatial Data Themes, and the UN Integrated Geospatial Information Framework. There is also a role for the UK on the international stage to promote ongoing work in the global geospatial sector, and in support of Government ambitions for overseas trade and aid.
  • That the Commission works with ‘Geo6’ Partner Bodies to improve the UK’s physical and system infrastructure by:
    • Promoting and better utilising the national geodetic framework as the common link between multiple technologies/positioning techniques and wider geospatial infrastructure.
    • Working more closely with the UK Space Agency as the technology lead on Earth observation. And support non-departmental public bodies, like OS, who are working with international forums to maximise benefits from EO data.
    • Continuing to explore opportunities to open the key identifiers of Unique Property Reference NUmber (UPRN) and Unique Street Reference Number (USRN). This is to improve the wider address ecosystem, working towards the ambition of a single address registry. Financial incentives or intervention may be required.
  • That the Commission supports geospatial skills development to realise, maximise and sustain economic benefits. To achieve this, geospatial skills should be viewed as a specific component of a wider data and IT skills landscape.
  • That the Commission engages with a wide range of stakeholders, including: local government and the devolved administrations who are building on best practice for geospatial information every day; geospatial advocacy groups so that Government can benefit from broader geographic debate; and the private sector to broker public-private partnerships which seek to improve social and economic outcomes.

We’ll be working with the Commission through the next year to create an ambitious geospatial strategy that builds on the UK’s existing capability.

Read our response to the Geospatial Commission's call for evidence (PDF)

More about our work with the Geospatial Commission