Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Heritage Council launches online mapping software

The Heritage Council has formally launched its Heritage Maps viewer, allowing users to visualise a range of heritage data in the context of other information such as landuse planning.

As a map enthusiast, I could spend hours on this viewer, checking out the location of gravel quarries and their proximity to wildlife reserves or seeing which blue flag beaches are closest to cycling trails; less nerdy types will enjoy being able to locate cemeteries and closed burial grounds, landmark monuments and heritage properties, and their proximity to a welcoming hostelry.

Data shown in the viewer, much of which has not been publicly available before, has been provided by a a number of sources, including:
  •   Local Authorities
  •   Ordnance Survey Ireland
  •   Geological Survey of Ireland
  •   National Parks and Wildlife Service (Dept of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht)
  •   National Monuments Service (Dept of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht)
  •   National Architectural Inventory of Ireland (Dept of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht)
  •   National Biodiversity Data Centre
  •   Environmental Protection Agency

First time users are prompted to download Microsilver Silverlight to run the program. My desk pc wouldn't run this software but my laptop accepted it.

Heritage Maps is a work-in-progress. I took a look at it a few weeks ago and didn't get very far, but there are now three video tutorials available (via the Help menu) which seem to resolve some of the problems I encountered. The viewer will be updated at regular intervals and the developers are asking for feedback by email.

The Heritage Maps Project started in spring 2012; it is co-ordinated by the Heritage Council, working in partnership with the local authority heritage officers and builds on the work carried out for the National Biodiversity Data Centre. The project partners will expand to 25 Local Authorities in 2014. Links have been made to other projects within the Irish Spatial Data Infrastructure and other initiatives are being developed with the Discovery Programme, the National Roads Authority and the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The map below has been printed off from Heritage Map and shows burial grounds (crosses) in North Kerry, together with walking routes (purple lines) and Blue Flag beaches (blue flag!) in the vicinity. Using the zoom option, you can then superimpose these features onto the Ordnance Survey road map, complete with local landmarks, pubs, churches etc.