Science & Technology in Action

13th Edition

Putting statistics on the map

Ordnance Survey Ireland

The OSi/CSO open data collaboration illustrates the application of a modern concept known as linked data. By linking population statistics and geospatial data, colour coded maps can be generated ‘on the fly’ to show the results of almost any desired search.
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Contains the full lesson along with a supporting toolkit, including teachers’ notes.

Lesson excerpt

In this lesson we deal with the way digital technology is being used to link different types of data in order to assist decision making. For example, assume that a computer manufacturer is looking for a suitable location in Ireland for a new manufacturing unit. The organisation will need to be confident that it can recruit graduates to fill a variety of roles at the new site. Accordingly, the planner involved decides to identify those locations in Ireland with an output of third level graduates. How would the planner find the information needed? Not long ago this would have been a time-consuming task. Now however, such information is very easy to access and visualise. This is due to an innovative collaboration between Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) and the Central Statistics Offi ce (CSO). The planner can also be sure that the information provided is accurate and reliable. In other words the data is authoritative data.

What is authoritative data?

Authoritative data is data that is offi cially recognised as being valid and correct. The availability of such data avoids the risk of using faulty information to support a potentially costly exercise such as a major business plan or regional development plan. An organisation that provides the authoritative information is known as an Authoritative Data Source. Both OSi and the CSO are authoritative sources. OSi is the source of geographical data (also known as geospatial data or spatial data). The CSO Is the recognised source of information relating to economic, social and other activities. The collaboration of these two organisations provides a source that allows the planner to find and combine maps with the appropriate social data. This source is called the Census 2016 Open Data Site and can be accessed at http://census2016.geohive.ie/. The data provided by the site is open data. This means that the information can be accessed, used or redistributed by anyone free of charge. The OSi/CSO open data collaboration illustrates the application of a modern concept known as linked data.

True or False?

  1. Evidence based data offers no advantages to decision makers. false
  2. It is not possible to link different data sources across the Internet. false
  3. Data that can be trusted is known as authoritative data. true
  4. ‘Spatial data’ is another name for ‘geographical data’. true
  5. The CSO main data set categories are called ‘themes’. true
  6. There is one type of map available on the Census 2016 Open Data Site. false
  7. OSi provides all the mapping data used on the Census 2016 Open Data Site. true
  8. Open Data is data that can be accessed free of charge. true
  9. The OSi GeoHive service provides the mapping data for the Census 2016 Open Data Site. true
  10. Administrative counties are the smallest areas referred to on the Census 2016 Open Data Site. false

Glossary of terms

Administrative counties
51 boundary areas used in Ireland for census and geographical purposes
Authoritative data
data that are accurate and reliable; published by an authoritative data source.
Authoritative data source
a recognised or official data production source with a designated mission statement
European Forum for Geography and Statistics
an organisation that promotes the integration of geography and statistics
Geographical data
the data or information that identifies the geographic location of features and boundaries on Earth; also called geospatial data or spatial data.
Geospatial data
the data or information that identifies the geographic location of features and boundaries on earth; also called geographical data or spatial data.
Linked data
structured data so that it can be interlinked to become more useful for decision making.
Municipal districts
95 boundary areas used in Ireland for census and geographical purposes
Open data
data that are available free of charge to use and republish.
Small areas
3,409 boundary area used in Ireland for census and geographical purposes
Spatial data
the data or information that identifies the geographic location of features and boundaries on earth; also called geospatial data or geographical data.