The Geo-Data Portal Project (Phase 3)


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Geo-spatial data is a term used to cover any data with a geographic reference - for example, an Ordnance Survey National Grid reference, a postal address, a place name or the name of an administrative area.

Increasing amounts of geo-spatial data are being created within Higher Education. At the same time, demand for access to geo-spatial data is growing, as tools, such as GIS, become more commonly available. Two major barriers confront the potential user of geo-spatial data: how to find out what data exist, and how to ascertain their quality and suitability for use. To overcome these barriers, comprehensive, standardised metadata, available through a web-searchable database, is needed.

The geo-data portal project Phase 1 was funded by the JISC to investigate the demand for and the issues surrounding the establishment of a Z39.50 compliant resource discovery tool for geo-spatial data for UK academia. The project was a joint one between EDINA, part of the Data Library, University of Edinburgh and the History Data Service, part of the UK Data Archive, University of Essex. MIMAS and the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) were involved in an advisory capacity.

At the request of the JISC, the scope of the project was extended to consider the requirements for a geo-data portal. At its core a portal is a resource discovery tool that allows the identification and retrieval of metadata describing the content, quality, condition and other characteristics of geo-spatial data. Phase 2 of the geo-data portal project, named Go-Geo!, was a one year project between EDINA and the History Data Service. The aims of the phase 2 project were: development of a demonstrator suitable for extension to full service; promoting the possibilities of a fully functioning service for integration in the JISC Information Environment (IE), and to act as a proof of concept.

The JISC has now agreed to provide additional funding to enable further development of the portal to take place during Phase 3, transition to full service. User trialing (at 6 institutions) will also take place to support this and test out the functionality of the portal. This project is a joint one between EDINA and the UK Data Archive (UKDA) with minor involvement of the Department of Informatics at City University.

Funding has also been awarded from the JISC for a separate metadata promotion intiative to introduce the concept of geo-spatial metadata to the UK academic community. The objective is to promote and encourage metadata creation through a series of workshops to present the HE/FE Metadata Application Profile, supporting guidelines and Go-Geo! portal technology. Further information on this strategy can be found at

A geo-data portal extends the geo-spatial data discovery function by the addition of other functions that add value to the data identified and retrieved. Primarily this means providing the means to find other related resources of use to the user. These resources can be either local to the portal or found by searching the JISC Information Environment and other online information services.

A key aspect of the portal is that these resources can be found using spatial searching as well as the more traditional topic or keyword forms of searching. A gazetteer is therefore required to support the portal, as most searches will involve spatial searching and users will need a rich resource of place names. The service that will be developed will use the gazetteer which the sister project to this one, the geoXwalk project, will establish.

Full documentation for Phase 1 of the project can be found at http://edina.ac.uk/projects/geobrowser/.

Phase 2 project web pages and documentation can be found at http://www.gogeo.ac.uk/Phase2/Phase2Docs.htm

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