Imagine a life without standards

It’s Halloween, and coincidentally a dark and stormy night. It’s also deadline day on a key project, and for some reason that we don’t need to go into here, you’re throwing an all-nighter in a spooky, run-down old house, trying to get some mapping finished for your boss. You’ve immediately got problems because, without a common standard for measuring time, your idea of when the deadline is up might be very different from your boss’s! Never mind, you’re an enterprising sort and decide to make the best of it. 

You switch on your PC and try logging on to the internet, but without common standards for networking protocols, plugs, fuses and electricity, you won’t get very far. And you’re working by the light of a candle flame because of that pesky lack of electricity standards. Not only that but… horror of horrors! Your colleague has sent you a GIS file in a completely obscure format and you can’t overlay it on any base mapping because you don’t have a common coordinate reference system. As it didn’t come with any metadata in a format you can read, you can’t tell if it’s the right file, if it’s up to date, or if it’s licensed for you to use. You hear a crashing noise, which seems to be getting closer, and realise it’s your boss! He has completely lost the plot and is coming at you with an axe, breaking down the dilapidated house as he approaches, bashing through shoddy glass and locks. 

You look for a way of escaping, but cars are out of the question in this world without standards. You spy an old mine track with one of those old hand-operated trolley cars on it and head off down the hill. Unfortunately without a standard for rail gauges, you only get a short distance before the wheels no longer fit the track and you have to abandon your attempt. Your boss reappears, for some reason dressed as a scary clown, yelling something about needing to meet the targets for this project, and you make a mental note to speak to HR about his behaviour and the company dress code if you ever get out of this in one piece. That seems more and more unlikely though as he gets closer and closer…

You wake up in an awkward position, having fallen asleep at your desk and realise it was only a dream, though unfortunately, the deadline part wasn’t. The night might be dark and stormy, but you have electric lights, safety glass and Yale locks to keep out Halloween monsters. The internet works fine, and you fire up your GIS program, finding the base mapping and the data from your colleague in an open format. You grab some additional data that you need from a search catalogue, safe in the knowledge that it will be in a compatible coordinate reference system, and that you have the metadata to ensure you know it’s fit for purpose. 

There’s a knock on the window – it’s your boss! He’s over the moon with your work and your dedication to duty and is rewarding you with a nice cup of tea and a cake from the all-night cafe down the road. 

The end…

If you’d like to understand how we can help you comply with standards, please visit our Data Discoverability programme web pages or request a call.

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