Managing geodetic risks in E&P

Just for completeness, here’s another blog post I wrote at Exprodat last year (I forgot to repost it here) – a recap on geodetic integrity and some simple steps that oil and gas companies can take to protect themselves from mispositioning their data. It actually had a really good response from within the industry.

managing geodetic risks blog picture

Happy reading!

(Photo: private collection)





Seven questions to test your geo-personality

Admit it. None of us know what’s really going on. Geo. Data. The web. As soon as you think you understand it, something comes along to disrupt it. So how can you adapt and evolve in this endless sea of change?

So, based on 15 years’ experience in pretending to know what’s going on, I have devised a personality test which will help you identify your geo-data-web strengths. And – this questionnaire comes with the Absolutely-Free-From-Stereotypes Guarantee™.

Instructions. Select only one answer per question. There’s no right or wrong answers; higher or lower scores just indicate different styles or preferences. Then simply add up your scores to reveal your true geo-personality. Ready?

1. Neogeography is…

  • an ancient book    10 points
  • mapping for amateurs   15 points
  • the hidden engine of our daily lives   5 points
  • whatever   20 points

2. Augmented Reality is…

  • what I use to order pizza   10 points
  • a data accuracy problem   15 points
  • 18 months away from mainstream adoption   5 points
  • whatever   20 points

3. Open Data is…

  • an open box of paper forms  15 points
  • the data equivalent of a free shampoo sample  20 points
  • what taxpayers are entitled to 5 points
  • you mean #opendata?   10 points

4. GIS is…

  • aaargh this questionnaire is boring   5 points
  • duh!   15 points
  • what, G-P-S?   10 points
  • just a tool   20 points

5. Facebook is…

  • for teenagers   15 points
  • for grandma   10 points
  • for my partner to look up his/her exes  20 points
  • the next play for new location business models    5 points

6. My next personal challenge  is to…

  • reach 5000 Twitter followers and pretend not to care   10 points
  • reach 500,000 air miles and pretend not to care   5 points
  • read War & Peace and pretend to enjoy it   15 points
  • finish off my project and pretend it’s on time/budget  20 points

7. Final question.  You approach a vendor booth at a conference. What do you do?

  • Avoid eye contact, grab the freebies and run   0 points  (try again)
  • Check out the vendor’s job title before deciding on next steps   5 points
  • Try the demo in the hope of finding a fatal error   10 points
  • Sneak a quick look at the display while the vendor is distracted   15 points
  • Look the vendor in the eye, saying: “and what have you got to offer?”   20 points

RESULTS: Add up your score (1 answer per question only)

Less than 60 points: The Travelling Geovangelist

You are interested in the big picture, and you keep telling people it’s not about the map. You enjoy keynotes at conferences, especially if you are the speaker. You are an inherent optimist, helped by the fact you are quickly bored with detail and technical issues. This makes you useless at delivering anything practical but people respect you for your ability to go through 300 slides in a 5-minute presentation. Main geo-strength: Chase the end of rainbows; keep the troops amused.

60 – 90 points: The Wizard of OS [Open Source, Ordnance Survey, etc]

You have the most creative personality and thrive on designing stuff. As a developer, you’re a fast & gifted programmer,  but may have  a tendency to prototype apps in a live production environment (which is causing your manager to despair). As a scientist, analyst or consultant, you are continuously frustrated by other people’s ignorance but take secret pleasure in having reasons to disagree with them.  Main geo-strength: Ability to architect elegant solutions to problems most people have never heard of.

90 – 120 points: The Geodaddy

You have seen it all, or at least most of it. You know that things come and go, but ultimately stay the same. You may be on the wrong side of 40, which you know is the right side. This knowledge, combined with sudden fits of unexplained boredom, may sometimes hinder your ability to see new trends but people respect you for your ability to bring together the best of both worlds, even though you may struggle with their incompatible map projections. Main geo-strength: Keep going. And going.

120+ points: The Field Marshal

You roll up your sleeves and get on with the job, whatever it is. Your mission is to keep the project on track, so you avoid any type of imbeciles and scope changes whenever possible. You thrive on emergencies but also realise that some routine work needs doing. You are the last person finishing the job when everyone else has gone. Extremely reliable, you are however prone to mistaking other personalities as bullshitters. Main geo-strength:  Make it happen. At any cost.

Written & submitted from St. Paul’s Starbucks, London, during a sudden fit of boredom.

Why governments should outsource open data to ESRI and Google

Mapping, environment, demographics or transport data: From the White House to Europe and Canberra, it seems like governments are suddenly throwing the whole lot over the fence in the name of transparency. #OpenData is the new buzzword in the land of open web awesomeness, and everybody shouts, hooray!

In the UK the government has so far published over 3000 datasets on This is truly great news and there are some interesting nuggets in there. The media somewhat naively refer to it as a huge “database” but, in reality (with the exception of Ordnance Survey mapping), it’s an unsightly bucket of wonky PDFs, random Word documents, grainy JPEGs, and dubious spreadsheets that look like they fell off the back of a truck. That’s because they did. Which is exactly the point.

Open data reminds me of the tree house I recently built. It looks like a garden shed dropped from 30ft. But the kids love it, so it’s fit-for-purpose. It’s just not very usable for other purposes. And the same goes for government data.

But the quality of open data will improve, you say. Indeed, some of it will improve. But governments primarily exist to govern, not to create beautiful datasets. People would rather have more police on the streets and not be mugged, rather than see awesome data showing all the muggings.

But good open data will improve those very public services, you say. True, but I doubt that professional experts in public agencies need to be told by amateur Joe Blogs how to do their jobs. Transparency and accountability are great, but “like citizen dentistry, some things are best left to the experts.” It’s the same with open data. Let’s leave that to the experts too.

In the US, the White House and ESRI have done a major deal on hosting all federal geodata through a proprietary ‘open’ portal. A contradiction in terms? Anti-competitive? Who cares – both parties are very clever and you can read more about it on James Fee’s blog. The government gets a free service, ESRI gets the data format advantage and everyone else can piggy-back off it using industry standards like OGC. This nicely sorts out the 21.5% I mentioned in my previous blog post.

And while we’re at it, why don’t governments just give the rest to Google to host and manage, on behalf of everyone else, so we can actually find it, and slice & dice it off the shelf. So governments can get on with the job of governing, and the economy can get on with the job of innovating.

But of course there are many commercial and other reasons why this would be undesirable. Besides it wouldn’t pass competition or privacy laws in Europe. So instead there will be continued piece-meal data creation, management, duplication, and tendering. As someone once said, “there’s a lot of money to be made in prolonging the data problem.”

We can’t have it both ways. So just forget everything I wrote. Instead, how about you enjoy some truly beautiful data in a new book by Now that is awesome. And, interestingly, its main source is… Wikipedia.