How definitive is definitive? Assessing the value of the Definitive Gazetteer for Scotland.
Huminyik, Oana L.
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The creation of the Definitive Gazetteer for Scotland in 2011 by merging the Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 gazetteer and the Gazetteer for Scotland was certainly a step forward in place name standardisation, however Scotland’s SDI lacks a service of a data interchange between the disparate silos of information. Such a service needs a spinal gazetteer at its core in order to link data. The study aims to assess the value of the Definitive Gazetteer for Scotland and its suitability as backbone for these much needed linkages. The method used to compare it with more recent gazetteers extends the approach underpinning its creation (Barber, 2010) by using feature types as matching elements and including different distance thresholds to surpass the limitations of the Soundex algorithm. The results suggest that the Definitive Gazetteer for Scotland could benefit from place name additions coming from the GB1900 data, either as new entries or as alternative names to existing entries. Steps have been taken to implement these improvements and the remaining actions have been laid out in a consultancy report intended for use in a future project. A service has been implemented which allows querying of the existent Definitive Gazetteer for Scotland names together with the newly integrated GB1900 place names, as well as the Famous People database of the Gazetteer for Scotland. The service provides links to the Gazetteer for Scotland, as a descriptive long-form gazetteer, and returns results in GeoJSON format which can be visualised online or imported into GIS software. It therefore exemplifies the power behind linking data together using a place name gazetteer. The paper argues that the multitude of gazetteers existent in Scotland can become more valuable if they were linked together using the Definitive Gazetteer for Scotland, thus forming an ecosystem of gazetteers to which non-gazetteer data across the Scottish public sector can also be linked.