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Digital preservation of the UK’s topographic heritage

Scottish geospatial technology consultancy thinkWhere has gone live with a system that will deliver tangible benefits for the 6 UK Legal Deposit Libraries (LDLs).  The new system will help ensure the LDLs can continually grow the nation's published digital mapping output, and also protect and preserve it for future use under Legal Deposit legislation.  UK Legal Deposit legislation requires publishers to deposit printed and digital material published in the country for access at LDL facilities.

The latest project involved further development and enhancement of a thinkWhere solution originally developed for the libraries in 2013 (resulting in the Geospatial Data Application and Services (GDAS) system).  The system provides controlled access to digital map data, and only from the libraries’ Reading Rooms.  Reading Rooms are located in The British Library, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales, the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, the University Library, Cambridge, and the Library of Trinity College, Dublin.


With a number of tools for viewing and comparing maps from different epochs, the GDAS system was initially set up to provide access to annual snapshots of Ordnance Survey Mastermap topographic data.  Ordnance Survey GB data held in the GDAS system goes back to 1998, with large scale Ordnance Survey Northern Ireland data to 2004.  However, recent changes  to legal deposit legislation found the LDLs requiring further development and expansion of the GDAS system to facilitate the deposit of data from any number of UK map publishers, in addition to the data published by Ordnance Survey.

The LDLs are the very latest customers to embrace and benefit from thinkWhere’s innovative new geospatial platform “theMapCloud”.  An Open Source cloud solution, theMapCloud currently offers Platform as a Service (PaaS), Data as a Service (DaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) capabilities.  A flexible and scalable solution, theMapCloud is pivotal to the future strategy for thinkWhere products, services and solutions. 

Phil Hatfield, Lead Curator of Digital Mapping at the British Library, said: "theMapCloud offers LDLs a resource that is easy to deploy to Reading Rooms and is open source for our future development needs.  Whatever datasets we receive in future, the system will be able to read and process these, as well as have the capacity to grow storage flexibly as we bring other map publishers onboard.”

In addition to the legal deposit map data, theMapCloud also currently hosts a national suite of current Ordnance Survey (OS) data.  OS data is maintained regularly, ensuring the very latest data is available to customers and their systems via OGC Compliant web services.  Members of the One Scotland Mapping Agreement in Scotland are currently benefiting from theMapCloud’s highly performant web services.  This has resulted in significant collective data management cost savings (in addition to a reduction in associated data management overheads) across more than 100 local and central government organisations in Scotland. 

thinkWhere was founded in 1993 as a service to local authorities in Scotland and became an arm's length company in 2007.  A specialist Geographic Information Systems Consultancy based in Stirling, thinkWhere deploys geospatial products, services and solutions using open source technologies to provide business advantage to public and commercial businesses across the UK and wider afield. 

To read an editorial piece on the project in GeoConnexion magazine please click here

For further information, contact Alan Moore, Chief Executive, thinkWhere, Glendevon House, Castle Business Park, Stirling, FK9 4TZ. T: 01786 476060. F: 01786 476099. W: E: W:

Issued by Michael Crawford at Blueprint Media, 0141 353 1515.

Date: July 2017.

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