Open geospatial standards and social analytics

Contributed by: 
Steven Ramage, SASNet Fellow and independent geospatial advisor.

The Urban Big Data Centre (UBDC) at the University of Glasgow in Scotland and the Business and Local Government Data Research Centre (BLGRC) have established the Social Analytics Strategic Network (SASNet), a research-based network focused on capacity building for social analytics of emerging forms of data, including big data. Geospatial data represents one of the key data types across many of the UBDC and SASNet activities. 

A series of capacity building events funded through the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) SASNet fellowship programme have been carried out recently and on Tuesday 20 September SASNet Fellow Steven Ramage was invited to run a workshop. This was a free training workshop entitled ‘An introduction to open geospatial standards’. 

Steven Ramage at the Urban Big Data Centre

Andrew McHugh, the Urban Big Data Centre’s Senior IT and Data Services Manager, introducing Steven Ramage.

The workshop focused on work done by the OGC to develop international geospatial standards with some insight into other standards development bodies including IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force), ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) and W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium). 

Some of the key messages were that communities are collaborating worldwide across multiple specific domains to develop open standards, which support innovation and where benefits accrue for government, non-governmental and non-profit organisations, industry, research and academia. Many resources relating to open standards are available for free, including tutorials, engineering reports and white papers. Also many OGC standards are compatible with other de facto or de jure standards, the key is choosing whatever serves your purpose. Overall, the key to the consensus standards development process is participation: the effort you put in reflects the results and benefits you or your organisation obtain.

The ultimate objectives of SASNet are building capacity amongst social science researchers engaged in innovative research to harness the power of real-time data and other forms of big data for use in urban and business contexts, while providing business and public sector analysts as well as decision-makers with the understanding and analytic skills to make effective use of these various data sources in their professional activities. Hopefully this workshop provided an insight into how open geospatial standards can assist with big data and the importance of policy makers and other business decision makers to understand the value of open standards.