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Data workshop opens new doors

A free workshop at University Centre Shrewsbury will highlight new opportunities for businesses created by a national move to make more geographic data available to the public.

The event (which takes place tomorrow Tuesday June 26) has been organised by The Centre for Research into Environmental Science and Technology at University Centre Shrewsbury (CREST@UCS), and will explore the benefits for businesses in using geospatial data.

As this becomes more accessible, the eventtaking place from 9.30am to 2pm at Guildhall, marks one of the first steps in efforts to put Shropshire and the Marches at the forefront in leveraging the power of open geospatial data and tools and putting them to effective business use.

Geospatial data is any information that has a geographic aspect to it and includes co-ordinates, an address, city or post code as part of it. Examples can be as diverse as customer databases, census data, mapping data and satellite imagery.

In the last autumn budget, the Chancellor, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond, committed to open up the geospatial data held by public bodies and Ordnance Survey data in a way that has not been possible before. This provides the chance, in particular, for digital technology businesses to enhance existing or develop new products, and for developers and creative entrepreneurs to develop a range of new business opportunities.

Dr Andrew Miles, Lead Academic in Geographic Information Systems said: “The opening up of these resources by Government is creating new and exciting prospects. We have some of the best geospatial data in the world and to have that made available from public bodies means there are lots of options for analysing and understanding data in a way we have never been able to do before. 

“At the workshop, we’ll explore the open geospatial data sources and see what unfolds; it will be a great opportunity to bring like-minded individuals together.”

Jon Britten, CREST@UCS Project Manager said this opened the doors for Shropshire and the Marches to make an impact in this arena. 

“The CREST team is already working with businesses that have some amazing data products supporting environmental analysis. This workshop is part of a drive to build on that and develop the skills and knowledge needed for the future. CREST@UCS is positioning itself to be at the heart of this exciting digital economy, with Shropshire and the Marches becoming a leading area for geodata, and the workshop is the start of that strategy.” 

Other steps in the drive include the opportunity to deliver a recently approved degree apprenticeship at UCS in Geospatial Mapping and Science, which is being explored by Jon and Vicki Ayton, a Business Development Manager at CREST@UCS.

As this is a hands-on workshop in the UCS computer lab, spaces are limited and attendees are recommended to register their interest by emailing crest@ucshrewsbury.ac.uk.

CREST is based at Guildhall in Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury, UCS's learning and research base.

The £1.97 million centre has been created at the institution, in partnership with University Centre Reaseheath, after UCS was awarded a European Regional Development Fund grant of almost £1.2 million, via the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, with the University of Chester contributing around another £800,000.

The CREST@UCS team is working with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), in Shropshire, including the Telford and Wrekin area. Support is provided through research and specialist advice, and helping SMEs to develop innovative ideas and products before bringing them to market.



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