The Spatial Information Service (SIS) comprises a team of technical and specialist geospatial professionals who are responsible for developing and maintaining several spatial data services on behalf of Scottish local government. The current services they manage are:
SIS works directly for Scottish local government and collaborates closely with strategic partners to ensure that improved spatial information management increases value to data owners and the wider Scottish community. It keeps the local government community up to date on Scottish, UK and EU legislation, regulation and data specifications, including INSPIRE, and supports Scottish local government to achieve compliance.
SIS will centralise the efforts associated with the improvement of spatial information management across local government, resulting in long term efficiency gains and cost savings. They will place an emphasis on using open source software and technology, as specified by various European and UK directives and initiatives, which will keep their running costs as low as possible.
The Spatial Hub is an online resource that provides a single point of access to quality-assured Scottish local authority data, in a consistent format. It is developed, operated and managed by the Spatial Information Service (SIS).
Every local and national park authority provides data to the Spatial Hub where it is conflated into standardised and up-to-date national datasets, delivered as web services.
As well as developing the infrastructure and processes to accommodate this local government data, SIS have also developed a series of different licences (with associated terms and conditions) that enables data sharing with each sector or organisation.
This benefits local authorities by:
Benefits to the wider society are:
The Spatial Hub was launched in 2016 and covers such data themes as planning, administrative boundaries, environmental, transport and community facilities. Ultimately, the Spatial Hub should collate and publish any spatial data that local authorities systematically create, which warrants a national perspective.
The One Scotland Gazetteer (OSG) is an address dataset that comprises up-to-date data, maintained by each of Scotland’s 32 local authorities.
The information stems from local authority functions, including Planning, Building Standards and Street Naming and Numbering which are the foundations for all address intelligence.
The local gazetteers are collated by the Spatial Information Service within the Improvement Service, where robust quality assurance is undertaken to ensure currency and consistency. Consequently, the OSG dataset adheres to nationally agreed conventions and is held in a standardised structure that conforms to the British Standard for addressing.
The OSG dates back to 2003, when the then Scottish Executive provided £7.5m of funding, along with £2.5m from Scottish local authorities, to create a national gazetteer which would support the delivery of modern public services in Scotland.
Crucially, the OSG holds the unique property reference number that provides a common thread that allows the linking of information held in disparate systems.
The OSG is made freely available to members of the One Scotland Mapping Agreement and is used throughout the Scottish public sector, including the emergency services, e-Planning, ScotLIS, the Energy Savings Trust, SEPA, myaccount, assessor and the electoral register.
In Scotland, the OSG forms the foundation for Ordnance Survey’s AddressBase product suite.
Tellmescotland (www.tellmescotland.gov.uk) is Scotland's national public information notices (PINs) portal, allowing public notices from across Scotland to be published in a single online location for the first time. The website was launched on 20 December 2010. There are 31 councils and 22 wider public sector organisations now publishing notices on the portal.
Public information notices are announcements that local authorities are legally required to publish. There are two types of notice. Statutory Notices give required notice of an intended action, such as road closures, construction, licensing and planning/property developments. There are also non-statutory notices which provide general public information. These include changes to services such as refuse collection or notification that community council elections, committee meetings and other local events will be taking place, for example.
Tellmescotland has three main aims, which are to:
It provides the following key benefits:
Users can register for email and SMS alerts specific to public information notices within their selected area of choice or they can simply browse the website and search for notices. You can sign up to receive regular alerts from tellmescotland at www.tellmescotland.gov.uk/registration/
The Spatial Information Service (SIS) represents local government’s interests in the One Scotland Mapping Agreement (OSMA). This agreement allows the whole of the Scottish public sector to access and use Ordnance Survey (and several other organisations') data products for their own business purposes. SIS ensures that the OSMA community has access to local government’s spatial data and address information via the Spatial Hub and One Scotland Gazetteer respectively. The current OSMA terms runs until 2023.
OSMA is funded by member organisations. The various sectors (Scottish Government and agencies, local government and NHS) all contribute an agreed percentage. Contractor or end user licences can be used to provide data to contractors working with OSMA members or the general public, respectively.
Case studies of OSMA data usage:
The Spatial Information Service (SIS) is funded to help meet local government’s obligations under the EU INSPIRE Directive and to enable sharing of such data with the OSMA community.
INSPIRE aims to improve the provision of data to inform environmental policy making – hence why Defra has been representing the UK’s interests on it in Europe. However, in meeting INSPIRE commitments, it is inevitable that countries will establish an infrastructure for environmental-related spatial information across the European Union. Therefore, the Cabinet Office is now showing an increased interest in what INSPIRE dictates.
INSPIRE defines common technical standards for publishing spatial datasets such as addresses, transport networks, land use, protected areas and risk zones covering 34 data themes.
The key technical requirements of INSPIRE are that datasets that fall under the named themes must be made:
The directive came into force on 15 May 2007 and was transposed into Scottish law in December 2009.
Whilst INSPIRE promotes better sharing of data, it does not, as many people have mistakenly assumed, promote open data. Many organisations that create INSPIRE-related data have intellectual property rights (IPR) inherent in the data (e.g. Ordnance Survey) and are not funded to release it all under an Open Government Licence. Local Government is no different in this regard. Hence, SIS has been creating a sustainable business model that allows them to share council data, but also fund its standardised creation and sharing.
SIS has done the following to help local government comply with INSPIRE:
SIS has not implemented the data transformation requirements of INSPIRE due to its complexity, lack of resources and because of an expected relaxation in this specification.
SIS will now aim to share the national local government datasets with as many organisations and sectors as possible to realise much more than INSPIRE’s initial goals.