June 2008: Volume 13 Issue 2
Over the last ten years JISC have invested heavily in licensing geospatial content (Ordnance Survey, geological maps, marine data, satellite imagery, aerial photography) and innovative services for the delivery of that content in easy-to-use ways.
Recently EDINA organised a workshop to look at the future of geospatial resources use in tertiary education. Funded by the JISC e-Framework programme, 25 participants from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds met in Edinburgh for a one-day, hands-on gathering.
The catalysts for the workshop were numerous. Two key factors were the growth in use within academia of geospatial technologies provided by the likes of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft (e.g. Google maps, Yahoo Local, Microsoft Virtual Earth) and the imminent implementation of the European INSPIRE directive. The latter has the potential to ensure provision of access for students and researchers to large amounts of geospatial data relating to countries within Europe. These developments bring immense new learning and teaching opportunities and the possibility of new research and new research methods.
The aims of the workshop were to explore the possibilities and establish the future requirements of those who use geospatial resources within UK tertiary education. The focus was very much on the ‘what’, ‘who’, ‘where’ and ‘when’ – what will users want to be doing in five years’ time, what sorts of data, services and tools will they need, how will they want to access and use the data, who will they be working with, how do they want to exploit the new types of geospatial technologies, and so on.
The outputs from this very successful event are currently being analysed. Key areas identified were the expectation of expansion of the core geospatial datasets available to users and access to content and tools via mobile devices and web services. Challenges and barriers were also identified; specific worries expressed were IPR restrictions on the sharing of data, the need for greater interoperability between services and for more tools, and the lack of specialist support in institutions to help users fully exploit the opportunities available. A report on the findings of the workshop will be submitted to the JISC and JISC Geospatial Working Group. A copy will also be published on the EDINA website.