New data portals and open data initiatives
The past few months have seen the launch of a number of new spatial data portals and open data initiatives as governments and organisations continue to liberate their data stores. The portals include the Open Geography Portal, providing access to the geographic information behind the national statistics published by the UK Office of National Statistics. The datasets have been made available for free under the terms and conditions of the Open Government Licence. Visitors to the site can search for a variety of statistics related spatial data sets including administrative boundaries, habitat, agriculture, postcode and INSPIRE compliant data themes in the extensive data catalog.
Although having open access to spatial data resources such as the ONS repository is beneficial, the current design of the ONS portal highlighted some of the same issues with map portals we identified in an earlier post, primarily the lack a focussed and intuitive front end to identify relevant data sets quickly.
As for open data initiatives, the European Commission has recently agreed to provide free access to data captured by its new Sentinel Earth satellites. After a protracted evaluation process, and following the example of the US Government’s Landsat program, the Commission concluded that the benefits of making the data available for free, with the anticipated growth in value-added services based on the data, outweighed any potential harm to private sector satellite operators (Source: SpaceNews). The first three Sentinel satellites are expected to be launched within the next year. Originally known as the GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) project, the new program of data capture has been renamed Copernicus.