Geospatial Commission Data Discoverability – making geospatial data easier to find

On 31 January, the Data Discoverability project published the Geo6 geospatial data catalogues. This project is one of the Geospatial Commission funded projects to maximise the benefits of geospatial data for the UK. The project has involved the 6 partner bodies of the Geospatial Commission. Also known as the Geo6, this includes Ordnance Survey, the British Geological Survey, Coal Authority, HM Land Registry, the Valuation Office and the UK Hydrographic Office.This project was set up to make the geospatial data held by the Geo6 more discoverable. Working together, the Geo6 took the first step to achieving this by creating six consistently formatted Geospatial Data Catalogues (one from each of the Geo6 partners), and making them available for free download on data.gov.uk.

User feedback and enhanced data catalogues

Whilst not all the data in the catalogues is available or published, we’ve already had feedback from users who welcome the transparency. The majority of users appreciated that we described our data at more of a feature level (e.g. bridge, A-road) rather than at product level (e.g. OS MasterMap Topography Layer) as it helped them to discover data they did not know the Geo6 held. This has already resulted in one user requesting data from the Coal Authority.

The Geo6 partners have also matched the datasets using INSPIRE themes. This improves the ease by which users can find data about a geospatial subject irrespective of the organisation that produced it.

Statistics from Government Digital Services (GDS) show there is good interest in the Geo6 Geospatial Data Catalogues, with over 1000 views and 200 downloads since they were published in January 2019.

We have listened to user’s feedback and have enhanced the data catalogue based on this response. Namely, this includes reducing the use of acronyms and explaining or changing terms users found confusing. The enhanced data catalogues will be available at the end of April 2019.

Our user research also revealed that 75% of users start their search for geospatial data by using Google. The information in the Geo6 data catalogues is not in itself searchable by search engines, so the way the datasets are currently described on data.gov.uk (which is ‘Google friendly’) has been reviewed.

All this work marks the start of a journey that will transform the user experience when searching for geospatial data.

The catalogues

For direct links to the catalogues on data.gov.uk, please see below:

British Geological Survey

Coal Authority

HM Land Registry

UK Hydrographic Office

Valuation Office Agency

Ordnance Survey

Please note, the data catalogue CSV files are hosted on the publisher’s website where possible. Gov.uk is used where the publisher does not have a website.

Previous Geo6 blogs

Ordnance Survey – Data Discoverability catalogues published

Ordnance Survey – Data Discoverability with Geo6

UK Hydrographic Office – Data Discoverability: Improving access to UK geospatial data

What is the Geo6?

Known as the ‘Geo6’, this refers to a collaboration between OS, British Geological Survey (BGS), Coal Authority (CA), HM Land Registry (LR), UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) and the Valuation Office Agency (VoA).

What is the Geospatial Commission?

As part of the Cabinet Office, the Geospatial Commission aims to help unlock the value of geospatial data held by its six expert partner-bodies (Geo6 as above).

The Geospatial Commission was created in April 2018 in the centre of government, as an independent, expert committee. It aims to unlock the significant economic opportunities offered by geospatial data and to reinforce the UK’s geospatial expertise on the global stage.  As part of that the Commission is working with the Geo6 to make the UK’s location data more accessible and useful.

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