Geospatial Commission’s first tranche of investment commits £5m to opening up government data

Written by Sam Trendall on 8 October 2018 in News
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Newly created government entity begins two-year remit with funding dedicated to release location data held by six public agencies 

The government’s recently established Geospatial Commission has made its first big investment with the commitment of £5m to “unlock the value” of location data held by six government organisations.

The commission was launched late last year with a remit to develop a strategy to promote the release of data held by public entities. The ultimate goal of this work is to drive economic growth, with the government claiming that better use of geospatial data could potentially add £11bn to the UK’s top line each year by allowing public and private sector organisations to develop new products and services.

The Geospatial Commission is backed by a £40m-a-year budget over an initial two-year remit. The first tranche of this funding will be invested in initiatives to open up the location data held by six government agencies and public bodies: Ordnance Survey; HM Land Registry; the UK Hydrographic Office; the Coal Authority; the Valuation Office Agency; and the British Geological Survey.

Potential uses of geospatial data identified by the government include tackling crime, better managing supply chains, and helping the police, fire, and ambulance services respond to emergencies more quickly.


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Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington said: “Through emerging technologies, our geospatial and GovTech funding will elevate British companies onto a global market and help to deliver new services to improve people’s lives.”

William Priest was appointed earlier this year as chief executive of the Geospatial Commission, and the government is now seeking to appoint a team of five commissioners. The roles, which each come with an annual fee of £15,000 plus expenses, are expected to involve duties totalling about 30 days’ work a year, including formal meetings of the commission that will take place about once every six weeks.

A competition is currently being run by the centre for Public Appointments, with applications open until 26 October. Following a sifting process, final interviews with potential commissioners are due to take place on 3 December, with appointments to be announced at some point thereafter.

“The government is seeking five outstanding leaders… who have in-depth understanding of businesses and public bodies providing or using geospatial data and services,” the job advert said. “As a group, the commissioners will need to reflect the diversity of current and potential geospatial data generators, sellers and end users, in order to make the commission’s output and impact inclusive. The commissioners will work together with the chair to develop an ambitious, sustainable strategy for UK geospatial data, which will drive investment and innovation and boost the whole UK economy.”

It added: “The commission’s first responsibility is to develop and implement the UK’s first Geospatial Strategy, basing it on strong analysis and identification of clear opportunities for the public and private sectors.”

This strategy will focus on identifying the biggest current opportunities to derive economic value from geospatial data, and working with Ordnance Survey in its efforts to open up to the private sector the agency’s MasterMap.

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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