The Big Picture- Big Bata, Knowledge Organisation and the Historic Environment: Shaping the future of Historic Environment Service Provision

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Videos from the CIfA conference

Organiser(s): Sarah Reilly, Historic England, Sarah MacLean, Historic England, Marion Page,
Dyfed Archaeology, Emily La-Trobe Batemen, Gwynedd Archaeological Trust, and Jane
Golding, Historic England

Local government is facing cuts of a level not seen since the Second World War and research carried out by the LGA suggests that these cuts will deepen in 2015/16. As the impact of cuts and a changin local government landscape take their toll on HE services, how should we work to shape the future so that they don’t just survive the current crisis but emerge stronger? What are the new opportunities being presented by the exponential increase in relevant data, its organisation and how it relates to the creation and use of knowledge about the past? The session will aim to encourage a critical look at current approaches to HERs; how they relate to their stakeholders and other record; and how they might look in the future.

Highlighting two key issues around Big Data today

Presented by Emily La-Trobe Bateman at the 2015 CIfA Conference, Cardiff.

This paper will outline the key issues around best practice for managing a large quantity of digital data generated during large developer led projects. It will explore the challenges of creating such large datasets in dialogue with relevant parties e.g. HER, ADS, and of integrating professional information/work-flow into the excavation and post-ex process. The paper will examine the possible issues that can arise and what can be done to tackle them.

Working with big Data

Presented by Kate Waddington and Ray Karl at the 2015 CIfA Conference, Cardiff.

We will discuss the research methodology relating to a recent project undertaken at Bangor University which investigated the settlements of northwest Wales from the Late Bronze Age through to the Early Medieval period. The research for this project required the curation, manipulation and enhancement of a substantial amount of archaeological data from a variety of sources, including published and unpublished excavations and survey reports, the Historic Environment Record at Gwynedd Archaeological Trust, and previous project databases, such as George Smith’s (GAT) CADW-funded databases on the roundhouse settlements and hillforts of north west Wales.

Collaboration with Gwynedd Archaeological Trust on this project enabled the structure of the database to be designed so that it was compatible with the HER. This enabled information from the HER database to be easily transferred to the database during data-collection, but also enabled enhanced data to be transferred back to the HER following completion of the project. We will discuss the impact generated from this specific research methodology and any lessons learned in the process.

Know Your Place: Exploring data collection strategies and impact on decision making

Presented by Pete Insole at the 2015 CIfA Conference, Cardiff.

Launched in March 2011 Know Your Place aims to build a shared understanding of Bristol by providing access to Bristol City HER; historic maps, old photographs and paintings. It also enables people to share their personal photos and their own stories of the place. In daily use by planners, communities and schools, over 1,00 public contributions have so far been made. using Know Your Place as an example we will be looking at crowd-sourcing data and its impact on local decision making.

HER databases – the Welsh context: HERs as indexes not archives, a low-cost responsive future?

Presented by Chris Martin at the 2015 CIfA Conference, Cardiff.

HEROS (Historic Environment Records Open System) is a powerful, online integrated data management system allowing secure and controllable access to and analysis of ‘traditional’ data alongside digital mapping, documents and images. But where did it come from? This paper looks at the development of this system by the four Welsh Archaeological Trusts, the amalgamation of the four Welsh Historic Environment Records into a single data system, the creation of Archwilio (the public front end fro the system) and development of the android mobile app which allows interrogation and data capture on the move .

UK-level data collection – ADS and OASIS, workflow and best practice

Presented by Jo Gilham at the 2015 CIfA Conference, Cardiff.

The OASIS system currently collects information on archaeological events from England and Scotland. it came online in England in 2005, Scotland in 2007 with the aim that it would simplify the transfer of data from field workers to HER and NMR, streamlining the process which at the time was largely paper based. It is arguable that the this dream has not reached it s full potential but there have been clear benefits: over 20000 grey literature reports archived and online in the ADS Grey Literature Library and the reuse of data within some HERs, NMRs and other systems including the Geophysical Survey database.

In light of these lessons the ADS and EH/HE have undertaken the first phase of a redevelopment project, primarily looking at user needs and how OASIS can work with the requirements of curatorial and fieldwork professionals. At this early state it is envisioned that a new OASIS, building on the lessons of the past, will be able to offer a simplified mechanism for both archiving and recording of a range of data from archaeological events. In addition, discussions are currently ongoing on how OASIS might work within the national frameworks of Wales and Northern Ireland potentially bringing the benefits of OASIS across the whole of the UK.

SHED +1: Working together for Scotland’s Historic Environment Data

Presented by Robin Turner at the 2015 CIfA Conference, Cardiff.

Having and maintaining local, national and sectoral records is of fundamental importance to the care and understanding of the historic environment. These data sources are highly vulnerable in times of reducing financial and human resources, but there are also opportunities to work together – collaboratively and using advances in digital technology – to help balance diminishing resources with improved efficiency and effectiveness. Scotland’s Historic Environment Data (SHED) Strategy brings together the key players holding and maintaining historic environment records to try to keep our collective heads above water. A year on from the launch of the SHED strategy at the 2014 IfA conference in Glasgow, what progress has been made, and what lessons from Scotland might be applied more widely.

Knowledge Organisation and the historic environment sector

Presented by Phil Carlisle at the 2015 CIfA Conference, Cardiff.

This presentation will discuss the role of knowledge organisation and in particular Linked Open Data for recording the build and buried heritage of the UK. I will discuss the website which has been established to allow access to SKOSified version of the English, Welsh and Scottish thesuair and to provide a collaborative working environment for the development of the thesaurus of cultural Heritage – un unber-thesuarus for recording the cultural heritage of the British Isles.

Heritage information Access strategy, EH: national versus local service provision

Presented by Keith May at the 2015 CIfA Conference, Cardiff.

To support and enable better sharing of increasing amounts of digital information using computer systems we need to understand better the often cross-cutting needs of different users of historic environment information. Ideas being considered as part of the Heritage Information Access Strategy include how to improve the capabilities for National, inter-regional (cross-border) and local (site/event specific) query and search system. Achieving better access for those seeking such historic environment information is as much about addressing potential changes to people’s work practices and the resourcing issues of how to manage, share and curate such data, as it is about resolving the technical challenges and choices between data integration and data interoperability.

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