Both in the initial capture of data and for subsequent maintenance and additions in the GIS, there are issues concerning standards which need to be considered if the spatial information is going to be usable. Because many of the outputs of GIS are visual, these pictures can be very persuasive. But GIS are only a model of the real world and the model can only be as good as the quality and appropriateness of the data within it. Data standards help users to control this and to be in a position to say whether data is 'fit for purpose'.
A number of different standards issues relate to spatial data and the following points should be considered:
For each of these areas working practices need to be agreed and documented for use within the HER and related to standards in use within the organisation as a whole and to externally agreed data standards.
A number of national and international standards have been developed to encourage consistent depiction of geographic space and work is ongoing to discuss conventions for heritage datasets. A non-exclusive list of relevant standards and organisations that are concerned with spatial data standards would include the following:
Metadata standards are necessary to make sure that that different users can find out about the suitability of data from different sources. This is particularly important if users need to compare metadata describing HER data with metadata describing, for example, rights of way or environmental information. Metadata standards set out what information should be recorded for a particular dataset and in what format. Some kinds of information may be regarded as compulsory (should always be recorded) while others may be optional either because they may not be universally relevant, or because they are useful but not essential. Metadata for a spatial dataset will enable users (or interoperating systems) to know, for example, the dates when a spatial data layer was created and/or modified, the date of the source mapping from which it derives, the scale, accuracy and precision of the data and any copyright issues that pertain to the layer and so on. Metadata standards enable metadata to be validated so that meaningful comparisons can be made between diverse spatial data sources.
There are a number of metadata initiatives within the UK geospatial community. The most relevant of these is probably _UK GEMINI_ (GEo-spatial Metadata INteroperability Initiative) launched in 2004 following a collaboration between the Association for Geographic Information (AGI) and the Cabinet Office e-Government Unit, with additional representation from national and local government and the academic community. Adherence to the UK GEMINI profile, which will replace the Gigateway Discovery Metadata Specifications (the NGDF Standard) as the UK's national geospatial metadata profile, allows for the creation of discovery metadata with both ISO 19115 (Geographic Information –Metadata) and the national e-Government Metadata Standard (eGMS), ensuring compliance with both. Adopting UK GEMINI will also simplify the process of publishing metadata via Gigateway's Data Locator.
Further details can be found at http://www.gigateway.org.uk.
NGDF produced a metadata standard for spatial information, compatible with the Dublin Core. HERs have been recommended to follow the Dublin Core for electronic resources other than GIS as this provides a standard content-description model widely used on the internet (see Miller and Greenstein 1997). At the time of writing, GiGateway is currently working on redevelopment of its MetaGenie product to create metadata in line with UK GEMINI (see above). Until then, the AGI Information Services Team urge data creators to start or continue using MetaGenie v1.0 alongside the GiGateway Discovery Metadata Specifications (Association for Geographic Information 2003) to produce and publish geospatial metadata.
Further details can be found at the GiGateway website (http://www.gigateway.org.uk/default.html).
The Directive addresses 34 spatial themes, grouped into nine thematic clusters, needed for environmental policies, and policies or activities which may have an impact on the environment. The key theme for Historic Environment data is Protected Sites which is part of the Biodiversity and Management Area cluster. However much of the data we are interested in is also relevant to other themes within INSPIRE. Our records about the built heritage help inform the Buildings theme within the Topographic and Cadastral Reference Data cluster. Historic Landuse Classification data should relate to the Land Use theme within the Land Cover and Land Use cluster and our use of LiDAR data is underpinned by data published under the Elevation and Orthoimagery themes within the Elevation, Orthoimagery, Reference Systems and Geographical Grids cluster.
Despite the environmental focus of INSPIRE, datasets about the cultural heritage and historic environment are largely underrepresented with limited engagement from data curators. In part, this is due to the emphasis on the natural environment but there is also genuine ambiguity in how the Directive applies to cultural heritage data.
For the purposes of INSPIRE, a Protected Site is defined as an
‘Area designated or managed within a framework of international, Community and Member States' legislation to achieve specific conservation objectives’ (Directive 2007/2/EC).
And described as
‘According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) a Protected Site is an area of land and/or sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, and managed through legal or other effective means.
Within the INSPIRE context, Protected Sites may be located in terrestrial, aquatic and/or marine environments, and may be under either public or private ownership. They may include localities with protection targets defined by different sectors and based on different objectives. Objectives for protection may include: the conservation of nature; the protection and maintenance of biological diversity and of natural resources and the protection of person-made objects including buildings, prehistoric and historic archaeological sites, other cultural objects, or sites with specific geological, hydrogeological or geomorphological value. Protected Sites may receive protection due to more than one type of objective, and may have a double or multifarious designation status. Protected Sites may differ greatly in their reasons for protection, their designation and their management.’ (INSPIRE 2014)
INSPIRE provides a clear mandate for those who create and manage designated datasets to publish them to deadlines outlined by the INSPIRE roadmap. Historic Environment Records are also within scope of the Protected Sites theme as the data they hold supports policies and activities that may have an impact on the environment.
There are also many advantages to making HER data available outside an organisation, although this raises wider issues relating to freedom of information, ownership of information and protection of heritage resources.
In both cases, there is a clear need to integrate any approach to spatial information with wider initiatives that may exist within the organisation. Many HERs will be components of wider corporate database and GIS strategies and will need to fit within these in order to benefit from data sharing within the organisation, while both local and national government is now coming to terms with the requirements of the 2000 Freedom of Information Act (The Stationery Office 2000) and how best to meet obligations placed on it under that.
Intranets provide secure environments within which many users can gain access to shared resources. For GIS users, this can mean that different groups within a larger organisation can have access to the same spatial data themes permitting easier sharing of spatial data between, for example, HER, planning, rights-of-way and environment groups. This level of integration, however, usually requires significant investment by the wider organisation both in terms of technical infrastrucure and effective management.
One recent example of online access to spatial information is Pastmap, a map-enabled query system for Scotland's Scheduled Ancient Monuments, Listed Buildings, and the National Monuments Record. This requires users to register, and once registered displays user-defined maps for the locations (and boundary polygons) for Scheduled Ancient Monuments, and locations of Listed Buildings, entries in the National Monuments Record of Scotland and Historic Gardens and Designed Landscapes (http://www.pastmap.org.uk/). (See also F.8.4.1)
Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS):
IGGI website http://www.iggi.gov.uk/welcome.php
GiGateway (formerly NGDF):