Any information that can assist in understanding the places of Scotland and the people who live there is Geographic (or Spatial) Information: information about Spaces, Places and Faces.
- Spaces: any representation of a physical geographic object that can be defined on a map, such as rivers, streets or administrative areas and boundaries
- Places: all address information and postcodes along with textual information on place names
- Faces: information on the people, either past, present or projected, within a certain area
(These definitions are taken from the first " Key Geographies" paper.)
Technological applications that use geographic information have become more advanced, and it is now easy and commonplace to use Global Positioning System (GPS) when driving, or search the internet for weather forecasts or family tree information.
It is estimated that at least 80% of government information has a geographic basis. It must be precisely defined and regularly maintained to ensure policy makers receive the most accurate geographic information, which is crucial in delivering better, more efficient, cost-effective and responsive public services. An analysis on investment in more coordinated geographic information systems within public sector bodies has established that public investment in geographic information systems can generate large efficiency savings.
One of the objectives of One Scotland - One Geography is to:
"Ensure that key geographies for Scotland are made available, in the first instance by central government, to the public, private and voluntary sectors and to the citizen in the most cost-efficient and effective manner possible, consistent with best value".
The Geography Group have approved a paper defining the Key Geographies as follows:
Part 1: Definitions and Inventory
A spreadsheet detailing what the key geographies and other geographies are, and who is responsible for them, is also available.
The EU INSPIRE Directive is being implemented in Scotland through the INSPIRE (Scotland) Regulations 2009 No 440.