Taking the Data Revolution to the Next Level: Effective and Inclusive Methods of Communicating Spatial Data

Lisette Mey*, Laura Meggiolaro, Anastasia Zammit, Marcello de Maria, P.C.M. van Asperen, Rik Wouters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic

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With the development of the post-2015 agenda, the UN High Level Panel expressed a need for a ‘data revolution’ to enable the transformative action necessary to respond to the demands of an incredibly complex development agenda. Data collection, analytics and monitoring have been hot topics of discussion within the land community as well. New technologies are developed continuously to allow actors to capture and analyze data at a greater speed and in higher volumes than has been possible before. Research has shown that a big portion of the global “big data” is actually geospatial data, and the size of this data is growing rapidly at least by 20% every year.
Being able to analyze spatial data requires a unique skill set that only a minority of people in the land sector possess. As a result, geospatial data and analytics often do not leave the specialized networks of GIS experts, which leaves a major gap for the rest of the land sector. While we encourage the spreading of skills and attitudes for data use to an audience beyond data experts, the fine line which we are treading is the following: any small error in interpretation of this type of information, such as incorrect application of dataset comparisons, for example, can lead to inaccurate presentations of land tenure situations on the ground. This, evidently, can lead to major mishaps, possibly having very real effects on lives and livelihoods. We know that data literacy is essential to the current ‘Data Revolution’, but how do we do this in ways that are effective, safe and responsible?
The answer that we propose lies in scaling back for purpose, as opposed to scaling up. Making data understandable for non-expert audiences requires us to go from big data, to smaller data. With smaller data, the context about which the data tells a story plays a vital role. This is where general audiences can get involved in the telling of stories around the data itself, or by providing context. The Land Portal Foundation is currently exploring together with the University of Twente and Plan B, with the Netherlands Kadaster in an advisory role, by establishing a geospatial platform specifically tailored to non-GIS-experts, through which these types of initiatives could be facilitated.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2019
EventFIG Working Week 2019: Geospatial Information for a Smarter Life and Environmental Resilience - Hanoi, Viet Nam
Duration: 22 Apr 201926 Apr 2019


ConferenceFIG Working Week 2019
Country/TerritoryViet Nam
Internet address


  • Land data
  • Geospatial data
  • Land governance
  • Data literacy
  • Data revolution


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