How Ordnance Survey Ireland is improving the production and management of geospatial information
Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) is constantly developing its core geospatial data production systems and improving the way that it manages its geospatial information, so that it can provide authoritative data for citizens, businesses and policy makers in Ireland. In this blog, OSi’s Paul Kane explains how the organisation is delivering value for its customers by ensuring that its work is focused, efficient and effective.
Over recent years, OSi has made huge strides forwards in the production and management of geospatial data. Most notably, we have completely transformed our data storage model and launched a seamless, object-orientated, digital database covering the whole of Ireland that does away with the concept of map sheets and map edges for the first time. This database has become the most authoritative repository of spatial information in Ireland, used by individuals, commercial organisations, charities and government agencies to help them better understand the country we live in.
So what’s next?
Certainly, we cannot stand still. In order to achieve OSi’s mission to “create, maintain and provide the State’s definitive mapping and geospatial services” we need to constantly evolve, adapting our goals and our approach to meet the demands of the public, industry and government. To be successful, we need to be focused on clear priorities; we have to work efficiently both in-house and with partners; and we have to deliver services that are effective, standards-based and relevant for our customers. And that’s exactly what we are doing.
Increasingly OSi’s customers are relying on geospatial data to perform sophisticated analysis and make real-time decisions. It is, therefore, more important than ever for OSi to focus on maintaining the currency of its data and ensuring a high level of data accuracy. With these two priorities in mind, OSi is currently engaged in several initiatives to help it collect and process data about our changing environment more quickly and make accurate, up-to-date information available to customers faster. For example, using high resolution imagery processes, we are now able to capture images at better than 25cm per pixel, for the whole country, within a three-year cycle, whereas previously we published images with 1 meter per pixel resolution, on a five-year cycle. Across built up areas including Dublin, this resolution is even higher, with images being captured at 15cm per pixel. In tandem, OSi is looking to develop new methodologies for processing digital terrain models and generating building height data, to maintain OSi’s National Height Model.
To maintain an exceptionally high level of data accuracy, OSi is focused on robust data governance procedures and quality strategies. We have reviewed our standard operating procedures, enhanced our Data Governance Strategy and improved the vigour of our quality checking. A rules-based system has been adopted that validates data as we capture it, and historical data, maintained through lifecycle rules, is being similarly validated to ensure that all OSi’s geospatial data is trusted and authoritative.
Like all public sector organisations, OSi needs to embed efficient ways of working that will enable it to deliver the best possible public value at the least cost. We have been implementing a wide range of initiatives to improve our efficiency and taking advantage of recent technological advancements to accelerate processes. Currently we are looking to automate systems where possible, in data capture and data management to produce a fully end-to-end map publishing system. We are also looking at a hybrid cloud and on premise infrastructure for our processing and exploring the opportunities provided by machine-based learning. In one key initiative, we are developing a new internal data quality portal and dashboards that will save employee time and improve the efficiency of internal quality assurance processes.
Looking beyond our own organisation, we are also working on projects that will help to improve the efficiency of Ireland’s Government as a whole. Through memorandums of understanding, OSi is now sharing data with and receiving data from other government organisations, eliminating the need for multiple government agencies to pay to collect and process the same information and delivering efficiencies across the entire public sector. This collaboration also enriches OSi’s data, helping to make it more valuable for all users. For example, we are currently working with the Placenames Branch and Fiontar in Dublin City University to ensure that OSi’s maps and services have the latest placenames in Irish and English.
Through its commitment to excellence in the production and management of geospatial information, OSi is fulfilling its role effectively. In particular, OSi is providing effective support for the Irish Government in the implementation of the Public Service Reform agenda and helping to deliver the national Public Service Data Strategy. As an organisation, we comply with geospatial industry standards from bodies like the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and International Standards Organisation (ISO) and take a leadership role in areas such as Linked Data to keep Ireland at the forefront of the world for geospatial data.
To remain effective, OSi needs to innovate – and this it is doing every day and in many areas of its business. In one initiative, OSi is establishing the first ever network of Absolute Gravity monitoring points, by inserting infrastructure at locations throughout the country. In conjunction with its established Global Navigation Satellite System [GNSS], this active network will enable the monitoring of land movements and give an improved understanding of changes to the terrain. This information can be utilised by various other government agencies to assist with, for example, Sea Level and Tide Gauge Monitoring. This information will also contribute towards the Next Generation Geoid Model. At a time when concern about climate change is reaching new heights, this OSi-led initiative will help the government to ensure the accuracy of its sustainability reporting and inform environment policy.
OSi is also leveraging its new four-band digital orthophotography, RGB (red, green, blue) plus near-infrared, in the production of a new Land Cover / Land Use product. This development will help governments, organisations and individuals to better understand their local geography, improve land management, monitor agricultural yields and make better decisions for the future.
By being focused on key priorities, working efficiently and innovating to maintain our effectiveness, OSi is delivering a lot of enhancements to its production systems and data management processes. These improvements will underpin all OSi’s services and map products in the future and enable us to deliver the authoritative, trusted and timely geospatial information that Ireland’s citizens, businesses and policy makers need.
Author: Paul Kane, General Manager, Surveying Remote Sensing and Geodesy, Ordnance Survey Ireland.