Highlights from the 2023 Astun User Group for open source GIS specialists

Not everyone can make it to our annual User Group so here are the highlights for those who couldn’t attend. If you’d like more information about any of the topics covered, please contact us.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we’d like to thank all the delegates who have completed our feedback survey. We’ve had brilliant scores this year, once again, and great comments, such as these: 

“Our key takeaway is that there are still software developers who care about their products.”

“We made some great contacts on the day, who we have been actively collaborating with since the event. Without this event, we would never have met these people in the GIS community. Overall, the Astun user group not only gave us a lot of information but inspired us that we can do so much more with the iShare platform.” 

“Thank you for a wonderful day. It was very useful and informative.”

Astun news straight from the horse’s mouth

Our user group always offers delegates the chance to learn about our development roadmap and see some of the latest geospatial innovations in action. This year was no exception with presentations from our MD and several of our technical experts. 

Talks included an overview of Astun Data Services (ADS), including plans, such as the transition to Ordnance Survey APIs, from Matt and Domna. Jo and Elena gave an overview of potential syndicated services for ADS including national datasets of Electric Vehicle Charging Points, Energy Performance Certificates and a national Food Hygiene Ratings dataset. We’ll release more information about changes to ADS over the coming months. 

Their talks were followed by an introduction to iShare Insights with Power BI, featuring ex-local authority GIS Manager David alongside Elena. iShare Insights is an ideal way to enable users to access powerful data visualisations. Mike, our MD, introduced the concept of a My Councillor dashboard which would provide councillors with critical insights whilst raising their awareness of GIS. After all, local authority GIS teams can never have too many ‘champions’ within the management structure!

You can find videos introducing iShare Insights on our YouTube channel. We offer versions for  GIS Managers and non-GIS users

Peer presentations (the Year of the Amy)

Each year, we invite clients to share their insights with fellow delegates. This year, Amy Pritchard from Monmouthshire County Council joined representatives from GeoPlace to talk about pulling the latest National Street Gazetteer (NSG) data directly from GeoPlace’s DataVia into iShare. We’ve since heard from delegates that they have already been in touch with GeoPlace to discuss their options further. You can find more information about the DataVia API on our blog

Later in the day, Amy Jackson talked about Elmbridge Borough Council’s successful GIS Day event which marked the launch of its new geospatial strategy. It appears that bacon sandwiches and maps are a winning combination which Amy wholeheartedly recommends to other GIS teams. If you fancy raising awareness of GIS on GIS Day (November 20th) or PostGIS Day (November 21st) please keep an eye on our newsletters as we’ll give you a heads-up a few months in advance. You can also have a look at this blog that’s packed full of ideas from 2023. 

Amy also kindly brought along some leftover map origami challenges for delegates to attempt with varying degrees of success. Perhaps we’ll switch to making map paper planes next year. 

Catch-ups over curry

Lunch gave delegates a chance to network and refuel in readiness for…

An afternoon of roundtable discussions

Following feedback from previous user groups we introduced a roundtable session this year. This was co-hosted by David Renn and Moira who have over 60 years of local authority GIS experience between them. With most of the Astun team on hand, delegates embraced the opportunity to voice their opinions on a variety of topics. We’ll use this information to help us channel our resources this year.  

David and Moira comment, “It was great to see (and hear) such enthusiastic engagement from all of the delegates. Lots of good networking took place and it was useful to hear about local successes and challenges. Sometimes it is good to know that there are others in a similar situation, especially if it leads to a solution that can be taken up by others. This view reflects the opinions of delegates, one of whom said that they learned that “everyone else has the same issues that we do.””

A little User Group fun

This year’s competitions let delegates demonstrate their geographic general knowledge and discover little-known facts about members of the Astun team. Don’t worry if you missed out as we’ve started a new series of ‘Meet the Team’ blogs, starting with Andrew Smart. Discover how he’s working with colleagues in sales and marketing to enhance customer satisfaction and engagement here.  

We need your help planning our 2024 User Group!

Please spare a minute to complete our questionnaire.

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