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What information do land-based social pioneers need?

Tom Kenny

IsĀ it possible for a single platform to give land-based projects the key information they need about the land around them? Our latest project aims to answer this question, and to find a way to increase access to data for common good land users.

Access to information on land has repeatedly come up as an issue in our work with land-based social enterprises. Information is needed for things like finding sites, managing them better, and providing support for funding bids and planning applications. At the moment, groups go through arduous processes to access this information. The data they need is often unavailable, or it is spread over many different sources both on and offline. We believe that advances in technology and the availability of public open data may mean that this no longer needs to be the case.

With generous support from the Peter Sowerby Foundation, we can now take a systematic approach to test this idea. We are talking to social pioneers involved in land-based projects, specialists in using land data, and key experts within government departments that are releasing new public open data. We are going to use all this information to identify:

  • The key information needs of land-based projects
  • The key sources of data that can help to meet these needs
  • Potential technological and business models for increasing access to this data

Our main goal is to find a way to get this information to people it can help through an accessible and affordable platform. The first stage is to test whether such a platform would be both worthwhile and feasible. We will then explore various different strategies for making the data available: from developing a platform, to feeding into one, or even just signposting to other platforms.

If you are involved in a land-based project you can feed your views into this process. We want to hear from people involved in food growing, woodlands, waterways, parks and any other projects working with environmental assets. What information do you need to find land, to manage it better, or to develop your business models? You can email hello@sharedassets.org.uk, or fill in our short survey.

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