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Opening a window on the world beneath us to aid teaching, research and analysis

  • OpenGeoscience has enabled BGS to greatly increase access to geological data and to increase the flexibility in how the information can be used.

    Keith Westhead, Head of Knowledge Exchange, BGS

The British Geological Survey (BGS) is a world-leading geoscience centre for survey and monitoring, modelling and research, and data and knowledge. It is responsible for advising the UK Government on all aspects of geoscience and provides impartial geological advice to industry, academia and the public.

The challenge

The BGS wants to open up access to its wealth of information to meet the requirements of the EU INSPIRE Directive and the UK Location Programme whilst also reaching new audiences and users. Information needs to be provided in a flexible, interoperable online form to facilitate new, previously inconceivable uses for BGS data and stimulate wider use of BGS science information and knowledge to benefit environmental analysis and decision-making.

The solution

OpenGeoscience is a free, open-access data portal providing geological information, including maps, photographs, databases, reports, over a million borehole record scans, downloadable 3-D geological models, smartphone apps, educational resources and software.

OpenGeoscience attracted over 20 million hits on its day of release in December 2009. When combined with other environmental information, the geological information in OpenGeoscience helps develop a greater understanding of the world around us, enabling the creation of new solutions to environmental problems. The information can be used free-of-charge for non-commercial private study, research and educational activities.

OpenGeoscience overlays its information on OS VectorMap® District, provided via OS OpenData™, the online portal providing free and unrestricted access to a large range of Ordnance Survey mapping and geographic information. OS VectorMap District is ideal for web applications as it can be customised to show only the most important information to create a clear, uncluttered backdrop map. The resulting street-level geology maps are the first ever to be made freely available over the Internet. Access to the information is further enhanced by the iGeology smartphone app that provides users with these detailed geology maps when out in the field.

The benefits

Providing information through a high-profile open-access portal such as OpenGeoscience:

  • Gives easy access to geological information to aid national planning for environmental change, disaster potential and sustainable use of resources.
  • Empowers the public to make better informed decisions based on enhanced knowledge of their environment.
  • Allows greater access to contextual spatial information for research projects.
  • Provides useful teaching materials on easily-accessible web platforms.
  • Encourages business innovation by providing information in interoperable forms to seed ideas for the next generation of online information services.

The products used

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