The Future of Geotechnical Mapping Data?

Free mapping datasets have become more available over the last couple of years with the advent of the government’s OpenData policy. Initially access to electronic Ordnance Survey mapping data was made available, but in the last couple of years the Environment Agency and BGS have made available datasets available via their DataShare and OpenGeoscience initiatives.

The availability of this data has streamlined the process of researching a site as it is now much quicker to gather the basic facts and history for a site for a geotechnical or geoenvironmental engineer. However the process still requires a number of websites or software programs to view the data or a GIS professional to combine these mapping sets into a single system for the engineer using a program such as ArcGIS or AutoCAD Map.

At the Geotechnica 2013 exhibition Keynetix announced and previewed the integration of exciting new mapping technology that allows the incorporation of datasets from the BGS and Bing mapping into HoleBASE SI, their borehole logging and geotechnical data management software. This functionality was launched last week and is included in HoleBASE SI Professional free of charge, giving clients access to commercial use licences of worldwide road mapping, Aerial Photography and 15 mapping layers from the BGS OpenGeoscience catalogue.

The importance of the announcement was emphasised by Geraldine Wildman from the BGS in a statement released at Geotechnica 2013 – she said “The key drivers behind OpenGeoscience was to allow more people to access core geological information and to encourage businesses to innovate with our data. We are delighted that Keynetix have implemented BGS OpenGeoscience mapping in a desktop product and are really excited by how this move will increase the use of BGS data within the geotechnical industry.”

In 2012 the AGS released a loss prevention alert on the use of Google Earth images in geotechnical reports. Ever since this alert there has been a debate as to whether it is a breach of the Google Earth Licencing conditions or not. This argument can now laid to rest as the Bing Aerial Photography and BGS mapping in HoleBASE SI are licenced for commercial use, including the supply of hard copy reports.


The final hurdle for many engineers is the quantity of data available. With very large downloads from the BGS and especially the Ordnance Survey it can be an IT challenge to find the most efficient way to store and distribute the data . However with the new HoleBASE SI solution mapping data is streamed from servers on the internet using Web Mapping Service Technology, so customers do not need the IT infrastructure previously required.

With this recent addition to the HoleBASE SI package it appears that Geotechnical Engineers can final take advantage of the freely available mapping data without the hurdles that have previously restricted the use to GIS users.


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