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HERFORUM  May 2012



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Re: MIDAS Heritage and Mandatory recording of Admin area


"CARLISLE, Philip" <[log in to unmask]>


Issues related to Historic Environment Records <[log in to unmask]>


Wed, 23 May 2012 16:17:42 +0100





text/plain (263 lines)

Dear all,

I have spent a lot of time over the last 2 years looking into this issue. With the development of the NHLE and the switch from textual recording of admin location to GIS-derived data, we (EH) had to reconcile two large datasets UDS (which powers NHLE) and AMIE (which powers Pastscape).

UDS was developed from scratch, to incorporate data from the old RSM, LBS and Parks and Gardens and Battlefields datasets all of which recorded textual info based on EH's interpretation of ONS data with the inclusion of EH's NPA list. 

Very early on in the development of UDS it was realised that it made sense to use GIS as the underlying data for this and as such when the data was migrated from legacy systems only NGRs and address data were migrated. Admin Area data was populated via GIS.

With Pastscape data the admin locations were updated at the same time to reflect the current admin data derived from ONS/OS boundary line data. This involved removing districts from the new unitary authority counties (eg. Durham, Northumberland and Cornwall) and removing the counties from Metropolitan districts (eg. Merseyside, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire etc.).

At the same time we looked at removing the old labels for the NPAs (NCPs). This was done in AMIE/Pastscape for the London Boroughs but retained for all the other districts/unitary authorities.

So, in essence it is still possible to find buildings/sites in Loughborough and Margate etc.through Pastscape but not through NHLE but not in Hammersmith.

We all agree that standardizing on OS Boundary Line is sensible however at the moment there is an issue in that you cannot search the majority of urban data as these fall within Non-Parished Areas  (NPAs or Non-Civil Parishes (NCPs)) so typing Loughborough or Margate into a free text field (for the NHLE/Gateway) will not only retrieve buildings/sites that fall within the said area but also road/building names etc..

Thus an advanced search on the where panel (admin location) for Loughborough in the Place/Site Name/Street Name on the HG returns the following:

NHLE: 73 results (split between Leicestershire, Nottinghamsire and Greater London - Loughborough Road/Loughborough Park being the non-Leics culprits)
Pastscape: 151 results (mainly in Leics as Pastscape/AMIE still retains NPA textual info in the Parish field)
NMR excavation Index: 65 results (as for Pastscape)
Devon and Dartmoor: 2 results
Leicestershire and Rutland HER: 351 results
Greater London HER: 7 result
Tyne and Wear HER (sitelines): 12350 results (this would appear to be an error!)
Images of England: 106 (as Pastscape)
Viewfinder: 147 (as Pastscape)

Doing the same search on the map function (using Loughborough within 2km) gives

NHLE: 75
EH Pastscape: 109
NMR excavation index:45
Leicestershire and Rutland HER:217
Images of England: 83

Obviously these results are better, but still don't accurately reflect the 'hole' in the boundary line data.

As to Mike et al's original point. The OS boundary line data records cities as City of.......

Yes, to all of us who come from this rather select band (why City of Nottingham* but just York?) it is baffling and it is, possibly, the only downside to standardizing.

As Paul points out using the newly released linked data from the OS would help but it still doesn't give that most discerning of people (Mr and Mrs Jo Public) the ability to type into a Google-style box and get back exactly what they want without lots of 'Did you mean........'

Yes there may well come a day when we can all use touch screens (NCIS: Los Angeles-styleeee) to define the boundary precisely as we have it but at the moment I'd say we're still some way away.

And until the OS add labels to the 'holes' that are NPAs/NCPs I fear we may always have to rely on storing textual location information.

Anyway this is my, very personal, twopenn'orth.


*the Blessed Realm

Phil Carlisle

Data Standards Supervisor

Data Standards Unit, Designations Department

English Heritage

The Engine House

Fire Fly Avenue



Tel: +44 (0)1793 414824



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P Please do not print this e-mail unless you really need to

-----Original Message-----
From: Technical advisory panel to the Forum on Information Standards in Heritage. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Crispin Flower
Sent: 23 May 2012 14:33
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [FISH-TECHNICAL] MIDAS Heritage and Mandatory recording of Admin area

Hi All
MIDAS Heritage is correct to have this mandatory, but that can include deriving it on-the-fly from spatial coincidence (for quering or exporting purposes). MIDAS Heritage does not dictate the methods of storage.
If MIDAS Heritage made this optional, then it would become ligitimate to have a heritage inventory that could not be queried by administrative areas at all, which is clearly undesirable.


From: Technical advisory panel to the Forum on Information Standards in Heritage. on behalf of Alison Bennett at Place Services
Sent: Wed 23/05/2012 14:16
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [FISH-TECHNICAL] MIDAS Heritage and Mandatory recording of Admin area

Just a thought, but here in Essex I use the database to compile district based stats in relation to a set period of time, and have a hard enough time already persuading people to enter the Admin areas. I'm not sure if I'd get the same level of detail from the GIS attribute data. I also realise that this is a local recording issue but having a Mandatory field has been a useful back-up for me.
Best wishes,

Alison Bennett

Consultant Historic Environment

Place Services

Essex County Council

tel. 01245 437637

e-mail: [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]> 

www: http:// <http://unlockingessex.essexcc.gov.uk/> unlockingessex.essexcc.gov.uk <http://unlockingessex.essexcc.gov.uk/> 



For a better quality of life
P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail


From: Technical advisory panel to the Forum on Information Standards in Heritage. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Nick Boldrini
Sent: 23 May 2012 11:12
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [FISH-TECHNICAL] MIDAS Heritage and Mandatory recording of Admin area

Hi FISH-ies


there has been a  bit of discussion on HER Forum about recording of Admin areas, prompted by issues relating to searching by Parishes etc on the Heritage Gateway.


It was suggested to me that I re-post some of my comments on here to see what FISHers think of a suggestion.


Essentially, my suggestion is that MIDAS Heritage should not have the recording of an Admin Area as a Mandatory field, but an optional one.


The train of thought broadly goes like this. Originally, MIDAS had admin areas in because GIS was an emerging technology, so recording Admin areas in text databases was useful to allow retrieval.


However, now GIS is more commonly used, it is usually possible to search/query data using the GIS to manage the Admin area aspect.


Coming at this from an HER perspective, the above method would mean that we would not need to re-code records when admin area change (as for example they have in Durham with the abolition of the Districts) but could still search on the old district boundaries if wanted. It also deals with the issue of Non Parish Areas (ie parish like areas with no official name)


It would also be possible to search on any admin area type (eg old parishes, etc) if the data were held in the GIS


Obviously, looking more widely, not everyone may have GIS, but then an Optional field would allow them to record the data if they felt it necessary.


That's a brief summary of the idea


comments welcomed


best wishes


Nick Boldrini


Historic Environment Record Officer

Archaeology Section

Design and Historic Environment Team

Planning Service

Regeneration and Economic Development

Durham County Council

Rivergreen Centre

Aykley Heads



Tel: 0191 3708840

Fax: 0191 3708897

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