Friday, 15 April 2011

AGI Northern Group Conference - Part 2 the Post Lunch Sessions

Firstly lunch was very good with fresh cream scones to die for. One item was labelled as “Salmon Balls”, I didn’t know they had any.

Ok then first up after lunch was another twitter buddy, Duncan Hill of Europa Technologies. Duncan has been in the industry for a long time and it shows. He is slick and professional at what he does. The presentation was really a sales talk though very low key. Some basic education on Tile Servers was possibly of use to some watching. The product/service itself I think is good and pretty unique in what it offers. It could have been a lot more “salesy” than it was so marks to Duncan for playing that down, but it was a sales pitch. We all have a job to do and that’s Duncan’s so fair play I say.

Next up then was Tim Waters of GeoIQ. Tim was very warmly received and many in the room were well on board with what he was talking about. However I have to say I got somewhat lost around the middle and found the simple and glaring spelling mistakes and poor slides rather amateurish and showed a lack of care. But no faulting hitting the rooms G-Spot so to speak. Most in the room were big users and supporters of social media so anything that comes along and utilises that is going to go down well, especially if it then maps it! Tim also gave us the stat of the day: We produce more data every three days than in the whole of history to 2003. I have no idea where it came form or how true it is, but that statistic puts the “data deluge” into perspective. It also shows how important it is that tools like this are there to help us utilise and make sense of this data.

Nick Ilsley next of Transport Direct. Another popular talk that hit a spot, despite starting off with rather too much railway information than we needed to know! Very pleased to hear mention of the NapTAN database as CDR Group did some of the survey work that went into this. Also delighted to see how much it’s being used, apparently the second most downloaded data set on The usage and publication of data from transport Direct ticks every box. It’s open, it’s transparent and it’s useful, Nick also gave us the acronym of the day in GESDU (Geographic Efficiency Savings and Delivery Unit). Not often a civil servant goes down so well.

Coffee and more scones!

Ordnance Survey next on the PSMA. I totally failed to make any notes during this session for which I apologies whole heatedly. However I didn’t really see anything in there that was that new or at least anything I didn’t already know. Let me know if you thought different.

Ok now possibly the highlight of the day. Steven Feldman again with his second and I suspect preferred session. Ove the last couple of years Steven has perfected the art of the geo-rant. Taking a subject he clearer feel passionately about and then going for it. I couldn’t help but think of a wind up toy, you wind it up and goes like the clappers for a short while then stops again. The subject was Open Data and originally titled Is It Like Giving a Kid an AK47? I have to say he articulated fears that I have been saying for a while. It is way too easy to take the raw data out of context and use it to your own ends (poilitical or otherwise). I really wasn’t sure about the cheese analogy, but the furniture one worked very well. I didn’t agree with all he said, but loved the way he said it. Always good value, always good slides.

Last up the mighty Dr Bob Barr. Bob was the first industry speaker I heard, now almost 12 years ago. I was impressed then, I’m impressed now. No one knows more about UK geo-spatial matters than Dr Bob. He picked up Steven’s geo- rant and ran with it, also speaking with passion and verve. Again I didn’t agree with all he said and I know Ordnance Survey certainly didn’t. But his views on the Public Data Corporation were valid and should be taken into account by the powers that be. I think that maybe the good doctor should be appointed to the corporation himself.


  1. Thanks for that DB - I wanted to go along but work got in the way but your appraisal gave me a flavour of the day.

  2. I like your straight forward approach in your comments of the day. A useful summary and I look forward to viewing the slides. Certainly not anyway close to being there but it will have to do.
    Did you get to see Flying Scotsman?