Aerial view of Long Street and Morris Lane, Devizes, Wiltshire c1991

As part of our geospatial data project, we have awarded funding to four local government organisations to support projects that use open geospatial data in the UK. We aim to gain insights into how local government organisations can best collect, publish and use geospatial data. ODI Data Infrastructure Programme Lead Leigh Dodds explains

Earlier this year we invited public sector organisations to propose projects that would help to develop our understanding of how to collect, publish and use open geospatial data in local government.

We were particularly interested in projects that explored collaborative approaches and drew on data from across the UK’s geospatial data infrastructure, including the Ordnance Survey, OpenStreetmap and beyond.

We received a number of interesting applications and would like to thank everyone who submitted ideas. We used a number of criteria to help guide our assessment and we were keen to fund work across the UK and projects that would explore a mix of both publishing and using data.

We’re pleased to announce the four funded projects that we will be working with over the coming months.

Bath and North East Somerset Council

Bath and North East Somerset Council is working with Geoxphere to create a more open data infrastructure that will help the council to more easily release geospatial data for use by the community. The team will be creating a taxonomy to help identify and prioritise data for release and is working with its local open data group, Bath: Hacked, to put that data to use in ways that support the local community. The lessons learned here will be relevant to other councils, and will help explore issues around data licensing that might create barriers to the release of data.

Falkirk Council

Falkirk Council council will be working with thinkWhere to develop a simple mapping platform to support the Fairer Falkirk strategy. The open source platform will present data from OpenStreetMap on a map that will help local community groups and citizens to find and access local services. For example, as part of a food theme, the map might show locations of food banks, community kitchens, and community guerilla gardening locations. The goal is to help community groups to maintain data in OpenStreetMap, rather than maintaining separate service directories.

Oxfordshire County Council

Oxfordshire County Council council has put together a consortia that includes the local OpenStreetMap community, Hanborough Parish Council, Oxfordshire Cycling Network and The Windrush Bike Project. They will be developing a cycle route audit tool that will be used to assess some local cycling routes and help inform local transport policy. The tool will be open source and could be used by other groups to do similar assessments in other areas.

Stockport Council

Stockport Council has partnered with Open Data Manchester on a project titled ‘Mapping Mobility Stockport’. Working with Age UK and Disability Stockport communities, they will be crowdsourcing data about accessibility issues in the area, drawing on the lived experience of people with mobility impairments to supplement data already available to the council. The project will produce a new accessibility map of the area.

Next steps

We’ll be assisting each of the projects over the next few months to provide advice, guidance and support. We’ve asked each of the projects to work in the open to share their plans and progress, but we’ll be writing more about their work and other interesting local government work on geospatial data over the coming months.

This project is part of our exploration around how to unlock more value from open geospatial data. For more information on that, or to connect with any of our funded projects to offer help or support, then please contact me.