We have started to put some of our IGIBS data into GeoDoc. We will have a couple of datasets showing land use change particularly for forestry for the whole of the Dyfi catchment . There is also some more detailed data from vegetation surveys looking at a series of plots from the different habitat types found in the Dyfi Biosphere. More data will be prioritised for inclusion into IGIBS as we refine the potential uses for the project. I spent a few hours helping with some of the survey on Borth bog so that I will be able to complete the metadata records with an understanding of the process involved in its collection.
It has become very apparent that for many of the geospatial datasets then it is the creator of the data that is best placed (or possibly the only one able) to complete the metadata records. So thanks to Jonathan Brownett who is now starting to complete what will might just be the first INSPIER compliant metadata record for the project (may even be the first for the University).
The process really brings two issues to the fore. Firstly that when the metadata record is complete and published the data can really take on a life of their own with the possibility of access by anybody who cares to search for them. Almost makes the evangelist in me want to start the Data Liberation Army, but I think that the DLA acronym has been taken. Second is that there could be an immense amount of work needed in the preparation for the INSPIER Directive. If every dataset looked at by IGIBS needed metadata creation then there is probably a year’s worth of work for one meticulous individual or several days’ work for many tens academic and post graduate staff. Either way the importance of metadata creation at the point of data creation must be a consideration for future datasets.
I think it will be, shall we say, interesting to see how INSPIRE is applied to universities and to individual researchers as there will simply not be enough resources to complete INSPIRE compliant metadata for every iota of geospatial information held by a university department. If universities are to fall under the INSPIRE regulations then some prioritization of metadata creation and data publication will be needed to give the academic world a fighting chance of meeting at least the spirit if not the letter of the Directive. I can only assume that it might for example be aimed at newly published and publicly funded research from academic staff as then there will be a number of ways to make data available once it is associated with its published article and held in institutional or research council repositories. If, for example, all the data from undergraduate and postgraduate theses and dissertaions need to be made available then it would be an insurmountable hurdle to jump.
It will be important for institutions to realize that while there may be some extra resources needed to meet any new regulations then each metadata record and collection of data that is made public will be a benefit to the wider academic community and to the the community at large. So taking an attitude of “selfish altruism” might be the best way of viewing any future work needed to make geospatial data resources available for more people.