Mapping our way to more accessible data

Darllenwch y dudalen hon yn Gymraeg

We have always known the value of data – even in fiction. In 1892 Sherlock Holmes said:

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”

Fast forward to around five years ago and in response to the EU INSPIRE Directive, Welsh Government, in partnership with Natural Resource Wales, embarked on a challenge to share environmental data in a clearer, more easily accessible way.

The solution to this challenge…. Maps! And so the geospatial data platform Lle was born.

Map of Wales from geospatial platform

Over the last few years the range of data available via Lle has continued to increase, with data now available on transport and public services alongside environmental data. There has also been a growing recognition that Lle is more than just a data platform and can be used to help people make informed decisions.

With the growing interest in Lle and other public bodies looking to buy or develop their own geospatial platforms the solution seemed obvious – a new, improved geospatial platform for the whole public sector.

In short our vision is to create a single geospatial data source for all public sector data in Wales. The aim is to produce a shared data platform for public bodies to be able to publish their data that enables everyone to access the data they need.

The journey so far

So where are we? We’ve recently completed a Discovery phase where we captured the requirements of some of our users and planned out the approach we need to take to develop the new, improved platform.

During the Discovery phase we have designed a more robust, resilient and scalable platform, that is able to cope with the growing demand to both publish and consume data. We’ve also incorporated a new secure area within the design, that includes secure logins and the ability to host data of varying security levels.

As part of our planned programme of development we’re also taking the opportunity to improve the look and feel of the platform itself. In doing so we’re aiming to increase accessibility and usability so that all users can easily use the platform.

And if that’s not enough we thought why not give it a new name whilst we’re at it. With all the planned changes it seemed an opportune time to re-name the platform to better describe what it is and what it does. In doing this we’re keen to hear what your thoughts are so we will shortly be gathering views on potential names via a poll on our @CDOWales Twitter account.

What’s next?

We have a team in place to build the new platform and have already begun delivering the first phase of delivery or in digital language, the Alpha Phase. This first phase will essentially involve us building a working prototype of the platform.

Whilst we’re still at the beginning of our development journey it’s important that we start thinking about what data our users need so that we can make it available via the new platform. Therefore, we’d be interested to hear what data you think should be made available so please forward any suggestions to: Data@gov.wales

There’s a fair way to go before we achieve what we’ve set out to do, but keep an eye on the blog as we’ll provide further updates on how we’re progressing.

 

Post by Sean Williams – Lle Project Manager, Welsh Government

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