Geospatial Information policy

The LGA is working with the sector to develop a policy framework and accompanying value proposition to drive necessary changes in Geospatial policy, practice and development as an enabler in providing better service to the public.


The LGA is working with the sector to develop a policy framework and accompanying value proposition to drive necessary changes in Geospatial policy, practice and development as an enabler in providing better service to the public. This is a response to changes in public service delivery, future public finance constraints and the implementation of national geospatial Information (GI) policies.

Government is developing and implementing policies on geospatial information that have two related components. The first is the European INSPIRE (Infrastructure for spatial information) Directive which provides a legislative framework to create a pan EU infrastructure to facilitate the access and sharing of geospatial information. The second is a UK Location Strategy which is designed to fit within the EU Directive but also goes beyond this to embrace some specific UK challenges for geospatial information. The Government's Location programme is the framework for implementing INSPIRE and the location strategy across the UK.

Local government is a key stakeholder both as provider of geospatial information under public task and a major user of such information. Hence, the LGA identified that it is important for the sector to provide leadership in negotiating an achievable, affordable and beneficial outcome for local government from implementing INSPIRE. The LGA also wants to press the location programme to secure change that is beneficial for local government, and to tackle the issues surrounding geospatial information that concern councils. As part of this work LGA is working with the Location programme coordination unit and is representing the sector on various location programme groups .

But local government does not only have a public task to provide spatial information as part of street naming and numbering, planning, environmental protection, to name a few examples. It also has long-term expertise in managing and using geospatial information as an enabler to effective public service delivery. Place matters to people; to where services are delivered and it plays a role in customer-led transformation. GI is used to provide evidence for future infrastructure, housing, employment and service planning while at the same time the data should be available to the citizen for consultation and reuse to hold the public sector to account.

However, it is clear that there is greater potential to exploit geospatial information, particularly if we can remove barriers such as over complex licensing, constraints on data sharing and reuse, and better promotion of the role that geospatial information can play in designing and delivering cost effective services or enabling citizens to better help themselves.

As a result, the group is working with the sector to develop a strategic vision and accompanying value proposition which demonstrates where change in policy and practice and GI development can better serve the public as a basis for lobbying for the necessary changes. As part of the work we are examining the current management, use and future delivery of GI to determine how to make best use of geospatial information to provide public services.

This work will cover multiple recent developments and drivers that span recent legislation and government initiatives, technical innovation, the move to greater customer insight, business efficiencies and cross partnership working. On the one hand there is the need for innovation in how public data is made available and better shared and reused through infrastructures such as INSPIRE, while at the same time public finances will be further constrained.

The way we work in the 21st century has to change. The existing business models for OS and other licensed data will not meet the requirements of the future. Digital Britain moving towards a self-help, customer engaged, digitally-enabled society will change the value and the way geospatial information is delivered.

The LGA recently convened a group of senior decision makers from across local partnerships to discuss and guide us in this work and, for example, endorsed our proposal to commission arms' length economic analysis to back the emerging business case for change.

Recently, we have also issued a survey to all local authorities in England and Wales including national parks, police, fire and public transport authorities in providing intelligence on the current size, type and level of the GI services which is delivered within local authorities and across partnerships. This survey will be used to provide a benchmark for developing what will effectively be a local government policy for geospatial information.

If you want to find out more about this work, we regularly update information about INSPIRE the location programme and the GI vision on the Community of Practice:

Geographical and Spatial Information Knowledge Hub Group

If you have any questions, please contact:

Email: research@local.gov.uk