VHN Conference – An Interview with Ordnance Survey Ireland

Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSI) are the state mapping agency in Ireland and they are responsible for producing all digital and paper representations of the Irish landscape. In learning about Ordnance Survey Ireland and what they do, myself and my classmate, Eoin Long, interviewed Mr. Phil Dunphy who is the executive working in the research and marketing division for Ordnance Survey Ireland. Mr. Dunphy spoke of how this sector has had a very broad history since its foundation in 1824 and has moved with the times to create new ways of mapping Ireland both digitally and on paper. Within the marketing side of things, a day in Ordnance Survey Ireland is packed full of conferences, social media upkeep, and general updating of their websites. In their technological base, the agency has been working on their Prime2 data as well as their GeoHive service which is “a web service that assists researchers to use and to share digital data with a mapping backdrop” which OSI supplies.

OSI’s customer base is one that is very broad. It is equally split between the public and private sector. Within the public sector, the agency has just created a deal with all state bodies so that from January 2017 OSI will be paid directly from the Exchequer and all state bodies will provide information to OSI. They also have a wide range of businesses within the private sector with the likes of telecommunication companies, transport, and construction industries.

Ordnance Survey Ireland is always working on the technological advances within the digital sphere for more comprehensive, more cost effective and more timely. This insures mapping in more and more up to date at all times. They are using a digital database called Prime 2. This data base system is designed to be more user friendly allowing the information stored to be easily searched and interacted with by employees of Ordnance Survey Ireland. This newly developed spatial data storage model was delivered during 2014. This authoritative spatial reference framework allows for continuous and unique referencing in terms of location and unique identification tagging of topological state information.

Ordnance Survey Ireland has been populating the new data storage model since April 2011. In order to develop this system, the business and marketing team provided sample Prime 2 datasets to key customers in order of developing suitable schemas to meet customer’s individual business needs. They have also hosted workshops with local authorities to provide information on the Prime 2 database system and share the benefits attributed to this spatial data storage model. The Prime 2 data base system is aligned to the eGovernment Strategy of 2012-215. This program for Government and the Public Service Reform Plan is to highlight information and communications technologies as key enablers in delivering improved public services.

When asked about researching new online media opportunities that may benefit the business and the creativity of employees, Mr. Phil Dunphy explained how they have launched a specialized research initiative. He explained how this year they have just launched their own Research Initiative, which offers positions to students at the postdoctoral level to work closely with the company on specific projects and Master’s level students will be offered an annual award for excellence in research of geospatial areas. This is the first year of this new scheme to encourage young academics within the industry and for both the company and the aspiring academics to benefit from one another both academically and professionally. This new scheme will progress into the coming years due to the positive feedback from both the departments involved and that of the universities.

The company sees humanities as a broad sweep of disciplines and due to the varied needs of their clients being not just historical and geographical, they find that having employees with both a wide scale of experience and education integral for customer satisfaction. This allows Ordnance Survey Ireland to focus on individual client needs by tailoring their product around multiple humanities disciplines.

The importance of customer gained knowledge from their product is very important. Ordnance Survey Ireland see mapping, either digital or hard copy, with the sole purpose of the client being able to make informed decisions with the information provided. Due to the explosion of the digital age they have seen a growth in their client’s needs for more in depth information and data about the specific product the client requires. This is one of the reasons for the launch of Prime 2 and its ability to involve the client in order to expand their knowledge of the product which Ordnance Survey Ireland provide.

Ordnance Survey Ireland have seen massive growth in the area of students benefiting from their product in order to assist education, peer to peer learning and project based learning so much so that last year they launched a web service called GeoHive. As mentioned in the introduction the GeoHive national platform is designed to be a free web-based platform for users to access authoritative geospatial information from multiple providers. It allows the creation of maps specific to the users task at hand by using shared data. This allows a hands on open styled access for users to improve their knowledge of selected areas.

Ordnance Survey Ireland is always looking towards the future in order to supply their clients with the most up to date software to improve their product and client user functionality. With initiatives such as the Research Initiative, GeoHive and Prime 2 they have embraced the digital age for greater client service and their drive to share information to the public.

When asked about the importance of cultural heritage within the company Mr. Dunphy spoke of the importance in coming together to “assist, cooperate, and coordinate research into current issues and into reflections on the past as well, so that the history of the nation, the history of society is being captured and safeguarded and analyzed for future generations.” The VHN Conference is an exciting time for many companies to meet and interact with new people and Mr. Dunphy plans on doing exactly that while showcasing the tools himself and OSI have to offer.


Link to the interview; https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B0mEYnuZaxYbRWhzZjJtT2Z1SlU

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