BGS unlocking data from the underground

Deposit data
The British Geological Survey (BGS) have been actively encouraging the deposit of open data via the Data Deposit Portal for a number of years, through projects like the ASK Network (Accessing Subsurface Knowledge) and more recently through the Dig to Share Project. The Environment Agency (EA) are the latest organisation to request their ground investigation data to be deposited with the BGS as open data.

The Dig to Share Project is a joint project between Atkins, Morgan Sindall and BGS, funded by i3P. The project’s aim is to encourage the deposit of geotechnical data, particularly in AGS form (the standard format for ground investigation data). There is an estimated 80% of site investigation data hidden because it is never deposited in a national repository, and it is estimated that unlocking this data and creating a culture of sharing could save large infrastructure projects millions of pounds. The Dig to Share Project has been investigating the barriers to depositing this untapped data and found the major barriers to this are knowing who owns the data. It seems all too common that depositing data is seen as an afterthought once a project is complete.

Engaging with organisations like the EA, who instigate ground investigation work, targets the data at source and alleviates the problems identified by the Project. The EA instructs its consultant to deposit the data with the BGS and as part of the contract for the work, the job is in essence is not complete until the data is deposited with the BGS.

The EA has worked with one of their main consultants JACOBS as well as the BGS to enable the sharing and unlocking of thousands of ground investigation reports and borehole records. This has been the result of dialogue between EA/BGS/Jacobs going back to 2008. The Open Government Partnership (2011) has taken time to be realised in the geotechnical industry but this agreement paves the way for other government bodies to release their ground investigation data freely under an Open Government License.

Find out more about how to deposit data


21 February 2019