This is the last of our Mapvember blogs. We hope during the series we've provided you with a deeper insight into the effort that goes on behind the scenes to provide you with access to a wide range of environmental spatial data on our new map tool. We finish the month off with a profile of the publication of spatial data by our all-important partners – as without their data services, there would be no Scotland’s environment map.
Kate Newton, Senior GIS Analyst and Casework Manager for the Scottish Government, tells us more about the Scottish Spatial Data Infrastructure (SSDI) Metadata Portal and the part it plays in the data in Scotland's environment web.
"Scotland’s environment web consumes environmental data published by a wide range of organisations on spatialdata.gov.uk - the Scottish Spatial Data Infrastructure (SSDI) Metadata Portal - and allows for targeted interrogation of that information through map applications. Both portals play a vital role in the development of a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) for Scotland, as required by the EU Inspire Directive, which asks that member states make their spatial data available to citizens and organisations, and are compliant to a set of specified open standards for metadata. It is these open standards that ensure interoperability between systems, enhancing the discovery of, access to, and reusability of data.
What is the Scottish Spatial Data Infrastructure and why do we need one?
The Scottish Government’s Digital Strategy sets out the role for digital in delivering stronger economic growth and more affordable, efficient and people-centred public services.
In order to effectively use spatial data in the delivery of these national outcomes, all spatial data managed by the Scottish public sector must be collected and shared in a manner that is open, minimises duplication and encourages re-use. A common way to achieve this is through the development of a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) – a framework of connected standards, spatial datasets, metadata and tools for analysis or visualisation that allow for spatial data to be used efficiently. The main components of an SDI are:
What is the role of the SSDI Metadata Portal in the Scottish SDI?
SSDI Metadata Portal fulfils the discovery component of our SDI, providing a catalogue service where users can find, share and reuse spatial data published by Scottish public sector organisations. Information available is not confined to just environmental data alone, but includes a variety of themes. Datasets are discoverable by text, map and programmatically based searches; they can be previewed in the map interface or accessed directly via web service links recorded in the metadata.
In addition to the catalogue service, the Portal also provides editing and validation tools necessary for data publishers to create and maintain their metadata records. The portal employs the UK GEMINI specification to ensure metadata is recorded in a consistent way enhancing its access and reusability.
Good quality metadata is key to understanding whether data is fit for purpose, has value, and is reliable, particularly if it is to inform policy decisions. The SSDI Metadata Portal fosters the development of good quality metadata, which underpins websites and applications such as Scotland’s Environment.
Scotland’s environment web contributes to the SDI and promotion of metadata by reusing data available on the SSDI and providing feedback where the service can be improved."
We asked some of those responsible for publishing spatial data for their thoughts on why data is important for Scotland’s environment.
Martyn Cox, Marine Planning and Policy: "I manage Marine Scotland Maps NMPi which, as part of Scotland's environment family, displays data and information relating to Scotland's seas and coasts.
"With a new obligation to plan the seas, through marine planning, it is now more important than ever to know what is going on where, and the impact that human activity is having on our seas. We need to communicate these effectively through maps as the seas cover six times the Scottish land area, which is a large area to explain.
"The links to the marine platforms is probably my favourite part of Scotland's environment because this is where the marine data unfold."
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)
Philippa Vigano, Habitat Data Manager, Knowledge and Information Management: "My favourite map on the Scotland's environment website is the Habitat Map of Scotland. This is the home for all our habitat data; describing what is out there, and classifying and quantifying Scotland.
"For me, the next big thing for spatial data, GIS and mapping tools is the sharing of data and bringing data together to answer questions and help develop solutions."
Alina Piotrowska: "I manage Natural Spaces - the SNH geospatial data download site.
"Spatial data allows decisions to be made on planning and land management applications that could affect the environment. It enables models to be created to predict future changes to the environment as well as recording past events.
"One of my favourite map layers on the Scotland's evironment map is the Peatland Action - Peat depth. It's a dataset I helped create and publish, but I also feel it gets the message across clearly with different levels of symbology.
"I think that producing more open data will be the next big development in spatial data and mapping. That, and utilising Hackathons so we can see what the data can do!"
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
Duncan Taylor, Development Unit Manager, heading up the team responsible for managing and publishing SEPA's spatial data: "Spatial data provides important context to the decisions that are required to give permission for certain activities (licenced and permitted activities); it helps understand if and where they might have an impact on the environment.
"The best part of the Scotland's environment website is having a live map application running 5* linked data published by our new data catalogue - exciting times for how we manage and share open data from different sources."
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