New Faces and New Projects at the Geospatial Commission - 02/10/2019


Thalia Baldwin has been appointed as the new Director of the Geospatial Commission from 1 August 2019. Thalia was previously Deputy Director for Policy at the Geospatial Commission and was Head of Digital Policy at HM Treasury, where she was responsible for the approach to public spending on digital technology and infrastructure. Under William Priest, the outgoing director, the Commission has established a strong team of functional expertise, delivered the first outputs to unlock an estimated £11bn of economic value and begun to assemble the evidence it needs to develop a long-term geospatial strategy for the UK. 

New Commissioners Appointed

Four Independent Commissioners, Dame Kate Barker, Kru Desai, Edwina Dunn and Steve Unger have joined the Board of the Geospatial Commission alongside its Chair, Sir Andrew Dilnot, and Deputy Chair, Nigel Clifford. The Commissioners will be responsible for providing expert, impartial advice to the government on geospatial data, including on strategic priorities and value for money, to inform the UK’s Geospatial Strategy.

  • Dame Kate Barker served three terms on the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England. Her appointment will help ensure the Geospatial Commission has a strong basis to approach the fundamental economic questions about the value of data and the wider economic benefits to the UK.
  • Kru Desai has spent her career leading large and complex transformation programmes. Her experience will help the Commission shape workable solutions in a complex cross-sector context.
  • Edwina Dunn OBE is an experienced leader, entrepreneur and pioneer in the field of data science and customer-centric business transformation. Her strong background in commercial data analysis will add significantly to the Commission’s strategy for accessing and providing insight from data.
  • Dr Steve Unger was until recently a board member of Ofcom where he was responsible for setting regulatory strategy for the UK, representing the UK in international negotiations and leading Ofcom’s technology programme. His regulatory experience will be of immediate use in the Commission’s Underground Assets Register programme and for longer term consideration of the regulation of data markets.


The Independent Commissioners were appointed through an open competition. They  commenced their appointment on 25 July 2019.

Geospatial Commission Making Geospatial Data More Accessible

The Geospatial Commission and its partner bodies have launched a new single Data Exploration Licence to harmonise and simplify access and use of geospatial data. The Licence means that anyone can now freely access data held by the British Geological Survey, Coal Authority, HM Land Registry, Ordnance Survey and the UK Hydrographic Office, for research, development and innovation purposes.

Researchers will be able to access data held by five partner bodies via one licence, and users can be confident that they are using the data on consistent, harmonised terms, and that the various datasets can be used, combined and delivered in the same way, subject to the same conditions. Innovators have access to the data at no cost and users will be permitted to share some of the results of their work with others.

Underground Asset Register

A digital map of the UK's underground network of pipes and cables is being created to reduce maintenance costs and enhance worker safety. The Underground Asset Register will show where electricity and phone cables, as well as gas and water pipes, are buried and will allow workers to see underground pipes and cables on mobile phones or laptop computers before they start a dig.

The Underground Assets Register has begun with pilot projects in London and the North East, to test the feasibility of the project. Work to tackle the problem has so far seen working prototypes created in Sunderland and London. In the North East, the project has been led by Ordnance Survey, who have worked with Northumbrian Water, Northern Gas Networks, Northern Powergrid, and Openreach. In London, work going forward will be led by the Greater London Authority, who are working closely with infrastructure providers and local authorities.

Last updated: 09/10/2019