Everyday people use data to make decisions from relocating to an area, to choosing a school, to setting up a business, to developing heath and education strategies, to deciding on a holiday location etc. All of these decisions may require different types of information, for different geographies and for different time periods. In the context of the North West Region Cross Border Area, the SPACEial North West project is a response to the need for seamless, accurate and accessible information across a wide range of thematic areas, located in 5 local district council’s areas and in 2 different jurisdictions.
Rather than simply providing the information that we thought the user needed, the team carried out a number of consultations to determine what the user wanted and developed its data collection, verification and mapping accordingly. Simultaneously, the project examined the strategic context of the North West Region Cross Border Area, to ensure that data collected would assist in strengthening the decisions made by the different cross border structures in developing their strategies and programmes even further. This process indicated that data is required across the following 6 thematic areas - ‘People, Planning and Places’’, ‘Economy and Infrastructure’, ‘Health and Education’, ’Neighbourhood Services’ and ‘Heritage’.
One of the aims of the SPACEial NW Project is to bring about greater usage of geographical information systems throughout the North West Region Cross Border Area. From the onset , there was a recognition of a number of issues limiting the use of geographical information in both Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and at European Union level. There are problems associated with fragmented datasets, gaps in their availability, lack of harmonisation between datasets and duplication in data collection strategies. As a result it makes it difficult for decision makers to identify access and use available data.
This section of the site will provide an overview of the cross border strategic environment that the project was developed within, including the different geographical information strategies that SPACEial NW has taken cognisance of, to ensure that the project does indeed ‘place information at the heart of decision making’. For futher information on data captured through this project, please see Chapter 7.