Aoife Shinners – President of IRLOGI and GIS Consultant with Ordnance Survey Ireland talks about GeoHive
What is GeoHive?
Aoife Shinners: GeoHive is basically a web portal. You’ll be able to see a MapViewer as you have been able to do on the OSI website, but now, you will be able to bring in additional files on top of that, for example, property prices, you could overlay wind farm locations and reserved areas and so on. All of these extra layers are in relation to what 3rd party providers of data have made available on the internet. We basically look for their REST endpoint (URL), and we put it into GeoHive so that the user has a lovely experience of looking at the OSi maps in the background and then overlaying it on top with various different other layers to make a nice comprehensive story. It just gives people a way of comparing data on one forum, one portal, one GeoHive that they’ve never been able to do before.
For a member of the public, will they find any advantage in GeoHive?
Aoife Shinners: Most definitely yes. I was looking at GeoHive myself for my own house search. I was thinking, “Okay, what are all the things I’d like to know about a particular area? Does it flood? Are there schools in the area? What’s the property price index like?” We don’t have all that information there yet. It’s only the data that’s available on the internet itself for now, but you can mash up a good few data sets to make up your own story, answer your own questions. This could not have been done before on our MapViewer. If you had some GIS background, you could possibly go on to the CSO website, get the boundaries down from there, and then if you wanted to compare the age of people against the flood, then they go into the EPA.
That’s only for people who have a bit of GIS knowledge, a good bit of time, and the software to do it. Now, people who don’t have any GIS experience at all can go on to GeoHive and make a map themselves with data that wouldn’t have been as close to the fingertips as it is now.
Would it be true to say that GeoHive is probably going to be more advantageous to say government bodies rather than private business?
Aoife Shinners: Not necessarily. I think this goes all across the board. It delivers to members of the public, to the private sector, and to the government bodies. I don’t think it would be true to leave any one of them out because everybody will benefit from GeoHive. They will display their data if they have their data on a REST endpoint. It will display their data and also other data that they possibly wouldn’t have had access to before. In that respect, I think, everybody would gain from it. I don’t think there would be a disadvantage to anybody.
What was the driver behind building the GeoHive site? Was it that OSi wanted to make their mapping more accessible to the public or was it that we wanted to showcase that now you can actually see data in mapping, and therefore, that data makes a whole lot more sense in that environment?
Aoife Shinners: Yeah, I think technology is always progressing. When you give people one form of technology, they’re only satisfied for a short time and then they would say, “Oh, I wish it could do this.” Initially, when you have your MapViewer on the OSI homepage and it looks great and you have your OSI maps and you can look for a location, look for X-Y coordinates which we also have here on GeoHive, everyone’s happy. But they possibly will be asking the question, great now if you could post your geology layer on top of that, etc. It’s always pushing for bigger and better.
Geohive is more accessible and more user friendly. This is what the general public, private sectors, and the public sectors are looking for now, to be able to put their data somewhere. Number one, it’s actually an advantage for them because they don’t have to create their own map viewer, all they have to do is create their REST endpoint and give it to us. Number two, they will be able to look at their data and compare it to other data that they may not have had access to in the past.
Suddenly their data is a whole lot more informative when they see it in conjunction with other pieces of data.
Aoife Shinners: It’s very important and we have to emphasise that you have to respect the data that you’re looking at and not to jump to conclusions that are not the entire picture. It’s important that users are aware of the context.
Obviously then from what you’re saying as we go forward there will be a process of listening to the users of this facility so as we can see where their thinking is leading us, and therefore, how this will be developed going into the future.
Aoife Shinners: Yes. People will be encouraged to put their layers on GeoHive so that it will be accessible to everybody.