www.scotlandsplaces.gov.uk is a website developed by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) and the National Archives of Scotland (NAS) to help people discover information about Scottish places past and present.
It allows the public to search across a range of historic national collections, including photographs and manuscripts and a host of official records, using the context of Ordnance Survey mapping.
The project aimed to provide the public with an easy-to-use web mapping interface on which to display their search results.
This meant all the historic information had to be properly geo-coded and integrated with the background mapping to ensure results on a specific location would be accurately displayed. This location-based approach would allow users to visualise this information in a more meaningful way than a simple list or table, helping to reveal patterns and bring the history to life.
The project also wanted to offer users the option to download their results as a raw data KML file to allow it to be reused and shared on other sites, which presented the project with specific licensing issues that needed to be overcome.
A map search facility was selected and Ordnance Survey map layers were used to provide users with the background mapping needed to guide them with their search. This same background mapping can be seen when users plot their results within the mapping facility in the site via a KML file. A ‘click-through’ end-user licence is offered which provides an opportunity for users to download the KML file and utilise the data via external geo-browsers.
The site also uses web services, which allow all the individual datasets to sit with their host organisation, ensuring efficient and simple data management.
Map-based search functionality provides a rich and easy-to-use interface for users, whilst the ability to conduct coordinate-level searches provides very accurate results for those records with coordinate-level indexing. The ability to share the data as raw KML also allows users to efficiently sort their results by location on their own sites and browsers.