“For the first time, ministers are genuinely interested in what’s being done in geospatial.” So said Jamie Clark, Head of Public Sector Geospatial Policy for the Geospatial Commission at September’s UK Mapping Festival in London – and he had plenty of anecdotal evidence to support his claim.
That interest is certainly being converted into action, with news that the Commission is to plough £5 million of next year’s £40 million budget into four exploratory projects as part of the Government’s #SmarterGov campaign. These will tackle issues of data discoverability, Linked Identifiers, licensing, and the use of third party data to improve data quality and make data collection more efficient.
In further developments, and as went to press, the Commission closed its call for evidence into how geospatial data can support economic growth and productivity across the UK. It also closed its competition for the appointment of five independent Commissioners. Successful applicants will join an independent chair and two individuals nominated by the Commission’s partner bodies to formulate an ambitious national strategy for the use of geospatial data. Due to be announced next year, the strategy will focus on how to unlock the value of geospatial data, estimated to be worth up to £11 billion per year, and exploit its potential to revolutionise the economy.
Let’s not forget that the UK already has some of the best geospatial data in the world; is ranked second out of 50 countries in terms of its geospatial preparedness, and has a world-leading geo-industrial base. With the political momentum to harness this now assured, 2019 looks likely to be a landmark year for more than just Brexit.