Tag Archives: geodata

The wasted potential of Geospatial data

Geospatial data is about mapping data points to specific locations, but the sheer power inherent in that statement is being under-exploited.

DEFRA publishes a lot of geospatial data, in near real time, for things like the air quality index. There’s also lots of geospatial data around fisheries: for example, monthly languages.

Geospatial data formats

However, data quality can be a problem — catches allocated against points on land, which is clear wrong. Because most of the time, people don’t visualise their data on a map, things like this get missed. For people, data often means Excel or CSV formats. But these aren’t really designed in any way for geospatial data.

So, they should offer data in format like geoJSON. It’s one of the principles of open data to offer data in more than one format. People who are using ArcGIS prefer shapefile. But people working with Java will prefer the JSON format.

The privacy problem with geospatial data

Think about energy performance certificates. If that data has a geospatial element, it becomes much easier for councils, for example, to visual where there are energy performance issues in their area: this row of houses, or this group of companies. However, there are challenges here — the performance of an individual household feels like personal data. There’s discomfort there in sharing that information.

Could you average the data from a group of properties to disguise the performance of individual properties? Strava has taken this approach to publish data about people’s activity without making it too personal. You’re reducing the resolution of the data to preserve people’s privacy.

In theory, you could start to use fuel poverty data, and credit reference data, to start identifying areas for intervention.

Using geospatial data for conservation

And fishing? Why publish monthly, when you could publish it weekly and daily? That could allow us to understand the impact of fishing activity in near real-time.

There are other sources of data, like crowdsourced citizen science projects. You can get people to report whale and dolphin sightings, with photos. You can analyse the geo data in the photos to start platting the presence of these creatures on a map, once you identify the creature from the photo. This can be simplified via an app upload from people’s phones.

There are so many ways we can use proper geospatial data for things like ocean conservation — it’s a big sustainability issue. But unless more people commit to publishing good geospatial data frequently, our knowledge of what is going on will go backwards.

Real time geospatial data is even better. The dolphin/whale example is just one project that would befit from this. Real-time decibel maps would be great for addressing noise pollution issues.

How to map everything – and how to share it

WARNING – liveblogging. Prone to error, inaccuracy and howling affronts to grammar and syntax. Posts will be improved over the next 48 hours

Map Everything_1

Google Docs notes for this session

(Alistair Rae introduced the ideas for this session in a blog post: How to map everything (but you definitely shouldn’t)

The age of open data has created an George Mallory approach to geo data: why did you create it? Because it’s there. Alistair has created loads of maps just because he could. But “why?” needs to be asked more.

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