Dr Andy Howard, British Geological Survey, Nottingham
The increasing use of information and communications technology for management, interpretation and delivery of geoscientific information and services is the major driver for developing new, more efficient methodologies for digital data capture. Increasingly, geoscientists in industry, academia and geological survey organisations are turning to digital recording of field data as one method of streamlining and enhancing the knowledge capture and delivery process. The SIGMA project (System for Integrated Geoscientific MApping) has been established to update the British Geological Survey's geoscientific mapping processes in the context of these rapidly developing technologies.
Current digitisation programmes in the BGS are focusing on capture of existing published information, principally geological maps at 1:50 000 or smaller scales. The additional cost of post-publication capture generally precludes the digitisation of the source data and interpretations on which these publications are based. To realise the added value of these source data, the BGS is developing an integrated toolkit that will enable, within a seamless digital workflow, the assembly and interrogation of existing information, capture of new data and interpretations and the delivery of digital products and services. Digital field data capture is a critical process within the workflow, and the implementation of suitable tools at an affordable price presents a major development challenge for SIGMA.
A well-designed, underpinning framework of best practice will be essential for successful implementation of the toolkit. SIGMA will identify and implement best practice for the complete survey process in BGS, which includes the acquisition and management of existing data and knowledge, evaluation of existing geological models and prioritisation of new surveys, and the output of updated maps, databases and digital geoscientific models. All aspects of the implementation process will be addressed, including development of equipment and software, re-engineering of management systems and work processes, and the introduction of new training and skills development procedures.