Geospatial Commission calls for a 'Land Use Analysis Taskforce'

A new report by the Geospatial Commission sets out how integrating data, science and innovation can help make better use of UK land.

It calls for the creation of a Land Use Analysis Taskforce and cutting edge data analysis to support government policies related to using land.

Amid new pressures caused by limited land supply, the report sets out to demonstrate where improved data analysis can support better land use decisions. It says bringing together large amounts of data can produce visualisations that will support local engagement and identify new opportunities for multifunctional land use - driving economic growth and protecting the environment.

Land use models like digital maps can help to "spatially assess a range of economic, environmental and social factors to support decisions about the best use of land", the report says. "But challenges exist around integrating the multitude of datasets, bridging analysis across different sectors and spatial scales, and making better links between technical expertise and decision makers who own land or influence how it is used.”

Four recommendations 

The Geospatial Commission, in partnership with the National Land Data Programme (NLDP), provides four recommendations that set out how the UK’s data capabilities can be enhanced to support land use decision making. 

The first recommendation is to establish a Land Use Analysis Taskforce. The report says this will bring together, through appropriate new cross-departmental governance, a shared spatial analysis capability to assess competing land use pressures and ensure national priorities are delivered within the land available in the UK.  

The second is the need to champion market innovations and visualisation tools that help deliver better land use decisions. This requires action from the private sector to engage stakeholders in the co-development of decision support tools to better assess multifunctional land use opportunities, and for the public sector to encourage local authorities to adopt these tools.  

Third is to strengthen the links between land use policy design, academic research and industry practice. This will ensure that policymakers are aware of relevant research and analysis that could help support their decision making.

Fourth is to develop a standard approach to classifying key land use data to support greater interoperability of land use data. The report says the NLDP Data Product Specification outlines the basis of a system which could help make improvements to integrate key data.

Untapped potential 

Viscount Camrose, Minister for AI and Intellectual Property at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, highlights the need to take advantage of developments in data science to support better use of land. 

He said: “Land is fundamental for how we live our lives - it produces the food we eat, supports ecosystems that we rely on for clean air and fresh water, and provides the space for us all to live and work in. As we face new economic and environmental pressures, we need to make smart choices to get the best from our land.

“We should capitalise on advances in data science and modelling technologies to help us bring together data from a range of sources, and present it accessibly, in order to support better use of land.”

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