A key moment in any Government Geographer’s calendar is the annual Geography in Government Conference, which sees colleagues networking across government for professional development and sharing best practice. The December 2020 conference ran over the course of a week, bringing colleagues together virtually for a series of workshops and plenary sessions
The Geography Profession and the Geospatial Commission are working to build geographic and geospatial skills in Government, and raise the profile of how these skills can support organisations in the public and private sectors. The UK Geospatial Strategy sets out this priority under its mission to “develop more people with the right skills and tools to work with location data, across organisations and sectors, to meet the UK’s future needs.”
With that in mind, the Commission hosted the first workshop of the conference exploring the increasing demand for geospatial skills in Government, chaired by Abigail Page, Head of Innovation & Skills.
To showcase the importance of geospatial skills and data, Mark Edwards from HMLR shared the pioneering technology being used in transitioning Local Land Charges registers to an online digital service, which can identify missing spatial data.
The Local Land Charges service standardised information in one accessible place - benefiting house buyers’ understanding of their property and improving the conveyancing process. This ensures that staff without technical spatial skills are capable of using this tool to access spatial data. Mark expressed a future interest for HMLR to productise this tool to support other government departments.
Following Mark’s presentation, members highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on increasing demands to integrate geospatial data for visualisation and dashboards alongside the importance of supporting policy colleagues and decision makers in unlocking the value from geospatial data.
For the second part of the workshop we were joined by Mick Dunn, on behalf of Nottingham City Council, who highlighted the rapid progression of digitalising geospatial data and standardising the framework which could be achieved by centralising data management activities that encourage collaboration between users.
His key message emphasised the importance of decision makers being aware of the drawbacks of silos working across departments and the time inefficiencies in managing, as opposed to analysing, geospatial data.
The workshop stimulated a rich discussion regarding the geospatial skills gap and the ways in which the Geospatial Commission and the Geography Government Profession could collaborate. Suggestions included developing mechanisms to share best practice, enhancing collaboration between the public and the private sector as well as developing career frameworks and access to training.
The reflections from the workshop will support the Geospatial Commission and the Geography Profession as they develop their collaborative future plans to further the delivery of the UK Geospatial Strategy by enhancing capabilities, skills and awareness.
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