Last week I attended an Ordnance Survey OpenData MasterClass in Exeter. This was one of a series of seven masterclasses that the Ordnance Survey were running across the country. They were aimed at letting people know how to get the best of the OpenData products that they provide.
The workshop was delivered in a format of combining theory and practical sessions. They were aimed at people of various experience; from those new to working with location data to the more advanced users wanting to brush up on their skills.
What was encouraging from a QGIS point of view was that a lot of the course was taught using QGIS 2.0. After an interesting introduction to the history and current standing of OpenData by Ian Holt we were given our first taste of QGIS. Ably led by Steve Kingston we were shown:
How to navigate around QGIS;
Import a range of vector and raster datasets (thankfully pre-downloaded);
Build virtual rasters (very useful if you’re dealing with lots of OS tiles);
Merge shapefiles into one layer
Create thematic maps from LSOA boundaries and ONS data (like the one below) – here I learnt you can now load non-geographic data from a csv straight into QGIS without using a csvt file, yay!
After Lunch and a quick insight by Chris Parker into the next Geovation Challenge , Chris Wesson from the Carto Design team at the OS gave a cartographic design workshop. This started off with a talk about the basic design principles behind cartography and how you should bear these in mind when making a map.
He then showed us how to import vector map district vector data and then style these in a various ways – I particularly found his tips on creating road casing useful. Some of the maps being were produced were of a really good standard, especially when you this was many people’s first time using a GIS of any sort.
I thought that this was a really worthwhile experience and would recommend going to one if you get the chance in the future (according to their website there are still masterclasses to come in York and Nottingham). I learnt a fair bit myself as I always think it’s useful to watch someone else use a product that you’ve used in isolation. They might do something that you’ve never seen before that’s loads quicker or show you a hidden feature you’ve not come across.
It was encouraging to see people of various backgrounds present, parish councils in particular. As someone who works for a local authority that has many Parishes i’m very keen to promote the use of open data by parishes and local groups and get them using QGIS, etc
In the New Year I’m going to look into having a QGIS South West event and hope to reach out to all types of QGIS users across the region. I’ll keep you posted on the exact details via the Google+ group but if you read this and are in or around the South West and want to share your experiences of using QGIS (no matter how big or small) then please get in touch.
That’s it for now. Just leaves me to thank all the people that made the OS Masterclasses possible I’m sure they’ve been a success so hopefully they’ll be even more next year to look forward to!