The National Mapping Agreement (NMA) is an Irish agreement that gives government departments and public sector bodies unrestricted access to most of Ordnance Survey Ireland’s (OSi) geospatial data. The NMA will be launched in January 2017.

The Role of Geospatial Information at Policy Level

Public sector bodies are strongly encouraged to make greater use of Geospatial Information (GI) for the effective delivery of public services. The Irish government’s Public Service Reform Plan advocates the value of using GI to improve public service delivery.

The National Geospatial Strategy outlines measures to optimise Ireland’s geospatial infrastructure for government planning and decision making, part of which includes the provision of an authoritative, standardised, maintained core geospatial reference dataset.

The NMA also aligns with The EU Digital Agenda, which aims to develop a digital single market across Europe, and the Irish government’s Public Service ICT Strategy, which encourages the use of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) for delivering public services in a more efficient, shared and integrated manner.

The Importance of Geospatial Information

GI is used not only for mapping, but for data analytics, scenario modelling and decision making. GI can be integrated with other datasets and enable information to be interpreted visually. GI has enormous value to decision makers, for example, it improves navigation and route planning, which reduces journey times, emissions and fuel costs. GI also allows public services to be targeted according to location, population profiles and other variables. In a nutshell, GI is a powerful asset for policy makers and decision makers.

The Economic Value of Geospatial Data

Geospatial data contributes almost €70 million in terms of gross added value to the Irish economy every year. An assessment of the economic value of the geospatial industry in Ireland published by Indecon (a 2014 report, off 2012 data – from recollection), a leading independent economic research organisation, revealed that the geospatial industry:

  • Has an economy-wide impact of €126.4 million
  • Directly employs 1677 people
  • Supports the employment of a further 3,087 people
  • Spends €84.4 million on wages and salaries
  • Generates sales or output valued at €177.5 million
  • Contributes over €69.2 million in terms of gross added value to the economy
  • Saves the public sector €82 million annually due to the use of geospatial information
  • Generates a time saving to the value of €279 million annually due to the use of geospatial information
  • Generates competition benefits of €104 million

Benefits of the National Mapping Agreement

The NMA gives public sector bodies the same access to a consistent set of core datasets from OSi. The benefits of this are as follows:

More data is available:

The user has free access to a greater range and volume of data. A common spatial reference framework: All users are accessing data from a common spatial reference framework, which makes it easier for organisations to work jointly with one another.

More efficient public services:

Geospatial data makes planning, targeting and delivering public services more efficient.

Encourages innovation:

Making geospatial data available to a wider audience encourages new, innovative applications of the data and further enhances the data’s economic value.

Greater accuracy:

A more consistent and systematic approach means that geospatial data is no longer duplicated, inconsistent, incompatible and unconnected across, or within, public bodies.Enhanced analysis and decision-making: Geographical Information Systems (GIS) applications can be used to interact with the data, to display and connect different variables, to identify patterns and trends, and to model ‘what-if’ scenarios. This encourages more informed decision-making.

Money and time savings:

Public sector bodies and OSi save time and money because less administration is required.

Who’s eligible to access OSi’s data under the NMA?

The following bodies can apply for access to OSi’s data:

  • Government departments
  • Local authorities
  • Enterprise boards
  • Non-commercial semi-state bodies
  • Health Service Executive
  • Emergency services
  • Higher education (for teaching, research and non-commercial activities)
  • Schools (via the ScoilNet Maps initiative)
  • Other public bodies (may be eligible via a joint agreement between government and OSi)

Gain access to OSi data

If you are an existing OSi customer:

Public sector bodies who currently use OSi data can continue to access the data as they do at present. To access additional datasets or to become aware of new datasets that have been made available, please contact your account manager.

If you wish to access OSi data for the first time:

Public sector bodies who wish to access OSi data for the first time can apply for access by filling out the form below. After you submit your application, an OSi account manager will contact you. You will be provided with a link to the NMA viewer and a username and password to login.

Further Reading

If you have an NMA related query, please email here.

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