Workshop: ‘The Cultural Heritage of Historic European Cities and Public Participatory GIS’


This workshop, held in September 2009, was funded by a grant from JISC to Sarah Rees Jones of the Department of History, University of York working in collaboration with Peter Halls of the University of York Computing Service. Project Management: Martin Scott (see below for contact details).

Papers and Presentations

Session One: The creation of a robust, sustainable, moderated public participatory interface to multiple sources of data via GIS.

John Oxley

City of York Council

Session One Introductory Notes

Steve Cinderby

Stockholm Environment Institute, The University of York

‘What can Participatory GIS reveal about local heritage?’

Amy Warner and Paul Clough

The National Archives and The University of Sheffield

‘A Proposal for Space Exploration at The National Archives’, including a Presentation

Richard Kingston

The University of Manchester

Public Participation GIS: Uses and Warnings

Session Two: Viable digital architectures and digitisation methods allowing the aggregation of different types of data content using GIS.

Stuart Jeffrey

Archaeology Data Service

Session Two Introductory Notes

Ian Gregory

Lancaster University

‘Urban History and GIS databases of textual and image data’, including a Presentation

Jo Walsh


‘Building Knowledge about Placenames’

Paul Ell

Queen’s University Belfast

‘Viable digital architectures and digitisation methods allowing the aggregation of different types of data content using GIS’

Session Three: The co-ordination of spatial referencing of heritage data drawn from historic sources in a series of layers.

Sarah Rees Jones

The University of York

‘Cultural Heritage and Place: the City of York and GIS’

Glen Hart

Ordnance Survey

‘Linking to the past, geographically speaking: The Linked Data Web and Historical GIS’, including a Presentation

Krzysztof Janowicz

University of Münster

‘The Role of Place for the Spatial Referencing of Heritage Data’, including a Presentation

Peter Stabel and Tim Bisschops

University of Antwerp

‘An overview of GIS initiatives in Belgium and the Netherlands’

Tim Bisschops

University of Antwerp

‘Two ways to spatially reference ‘pre-cadastral' urban data’

Stuart Dunn

Arts and Humanities e-Science Support Centre

‘The Cultural Heritage of Historic European Cities and ppGIS’

Session Four: Distributed sources of data from public and private sector providers and legal issues impacting their digitisation, integration and dissemination.

Peter Halls

The University of York

Session Four Introductory Notes

Ralph Weedon

JISC Legal

‘Legal issues impacting on digitisation, integration and dissemination of distributed sources of data’, including a Presentation


  1. Sarah Rees Jones    Project Coordinator

  1. Peter Halls    GIS Consultant

  1. Martin Scott    Project Manager

Related Projects, Links and Resources

  1. ISTHMUS Project

     EU Framework Programme 7 project proposal

  1. Europeana

    An online collection of over 4 million digital items

  1. More Links and Resources

Agenda and Participants List

View workshop agenda            View participants list

Workshop Rationale

‘The Cultural Heritage of Historic European Cities and Public Participatory GIS’ will explore the potential for GIS to deliver greatly improved access to urban heritage resources of all kinds to the general public and to the academy.

The concept is based on the premise that there are many separate data sets relating to a variety of media, and owned by a number of different partners, which can be provided with spatial coordinates and integrated through web services using a public participatory Geographic Information System. This data might include archival catalogues, maps and plans, photographs, film, aural archives, archaeological data and explanatory and interpretative studies. The use of ppGIS will enable data to be accessed and analysed at the level of individual streets, and in some cases specific properties. It is an important and key aspect of this project that the GIS platform should provide detailed access to data at street level.

A second important feature of this project is that it is envisaged that the final product will enable users to deposit as well as access data. The ppGIS interface will provide a new way of accessing and using heritage content and is intended to increase interdisciplinary research and public access to and involvement in heritage and conservation resources. This will also allow easier access to certain resources for parties who would previously have had difficulties obtaining them, for example allowing archaeologists easier access to archival data. The data will have applications in academic, educational, planning, commercial, leisure and citizenship contexts for which, over time, different types of explanatory materials and interfaces can be provided using a range of media.

It is apparent that there is no generic guidance available as to how to create such an interdisciplinary public resource. This workshop will address that lack of coordinated information. While national, and sometimes international, data standards exist or are being developed in relation to each type of resource, as yet there are no standards for how to integrate these resources in relation to each other using a GIS platform. For example, the National Council of Archives has agreed standards for the digital cataloguing of archives and English Heritage is developing data standards for archaeological data, but there is no standard for the integration of these two data types using common spatial coordinates. International standards for the archiving of spatial data exist but these do not currently address issues related to cross-archive data discovery. In addition, different ontologies of space are found in different data sets (particularly those using historic data). There are also legal issues relating to accessing and disseminating certain types of data. Finally, we need to consider issues concerning the creation of robust, user-friendly and attractive interfaces for ppGIS.

The workshop is thus designed to address these themes and problems and will create a generic resource (a ten page report disseminated on this site) for all partners and participants to employ in their future research and practice in this area.