Spatial Data Products
 Geology Matters No. 7
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Ray Scanlon

Minister Eamon Ryan, T.D. announced that he is making almost all digital data held in the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources available for free online. He officially launched these new web based services, via his colleague, John Gormley T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, at GIS Ireland 2007 Conference and Exhibition on October 17th 2007.

More than 5Tb (Terrabytes) of spatial data is now to be made available for free download. The bulk of this spatial data comes from the Geological Survey of Ireland's digital records. These data will be available via the Department's website
( and the University sector's internet backbone, the HEAnet, via links from the GSI website

Commenting on the announcement Minister Ryan said, “The free dissemination of this data is intended to stimulate the environmental, exploration, construction, and geoscience sectors. Some of the data could prove very useful for companies exploring for oil and gas resources for example. It will also provide important data for planners in achieving sustainable and responsible development and assist in the planning of major infrastructure projects.”

Most of the Department's spatial data is within the Natural Resources sector, and initial datasets available include a wide range of marine, bedrock geology, soil, groundwater, mineral, and geotechnical data from the Geological Survey of Ireland as well as the Marine Institute. In addition, licence boundaries and well locations are being made available by the Petroleum Affairs Division, and mineral deposit locations and prospecting licence areas are being made available by the Exploration and Mining Division.

Additional spatial datasets come from the Department's Engineering Division, whose coastal photos have been assembled for coastal protections work. The offshore datasets collected by the GSI's and Marine Institute's (MI) joint sea bed mapping projects, the Irish National Seabed Survey, and its successor INFOMAR will also be made available.

“These projects are an important component of an overall plan to make Ireland an internationally renowned destination for geoscience research. The Government has committed to investing a total of €43 million over the next seven years in the geoscience sector and I hope to soon see many more exciting new geoscience projects that could potentially transform our lives,” concluded Minister Ryan.

This data release policy is being implemented via two parallel websites, the DCENR Spatial Data pages and the Interactive Web Data Download System of the GSI and MI. The first project, the 'Spatial Data' pages, are a series of simple web viewers with associated OGC compliant WMS and WFS services as well as free pre-zipped data download packages. This was developed by DCENR and ESRI Ireland using ArcIMS and Moxi Media's IMF.

The second project focuses on delivering the offshore gridded and vector datasets collected by the GSI's and MI's joint sea bed mapping projects. This was developed by Intrepid Geophysics using their Jetstream product and is sited on the HEAnet. It has been expanded to include onshore vector and gridded data from the GSI and currently holds approximately 5Tb of spatial data, all available for free download. (

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