Frequently asked questions

What is the Spatial Hub?

The Spatial Hub is a collection of systems & applications hosted on cloud infrastructure to allow:

  • Data Collection: By developing strong relationships with local and national park authority data custodians and specialists we ensure that they regularly provide their raw spatial data to the Spatial Hub using a simple upload or web service registration process.

  • Data Processing: The collected data are periodically processed, quality assessed, and amalgamated into national datasets using data manipulation products and transformational techniques and processes.

  • Data Publication: Coherent national datasets are published as web services (both Web Feature and Web Map) and as downloads. Metadata records for the national datasets are maintained on the Scottish Spatial Data Infrastructure (SSDI) and SpatialHub Datasets

How can I access the Spatial Hub?

The Spatial Hub has several types of datasets that can be accessed by different organisations and sectors:

  • National open datasets: Anyone can access these datasets (by creating a Spatial Hub user account) as download or web service APIs for use in their own GIS systems or applications for any purpose they like under an Open Government Licence. To do so you must register or log in to a free Spatial Hub account.

  • Local Authority open data resources: Anyone can download and use these uploaded data layers or access the open API resources that these local authorities have provided for each Spatial Hub dataset (under Open Government Licence).

  • National premium datasets: Access to these datasets depends on what sector you work for or represent

    • Public sector organisations – can access data once their Spatial Hub account is registered against the correct PSGA organisation. Please contact us to request this.

    • Academic Institutions - can access data via EDINA’s DigiMap service (under the Ordnance Survey/ Improvement Service download section)

    • Commercial, third sector or general public - can now access this data through one of our commercial partner organisations (list TBC)

  • Bespoke data sharing datasets (like SGN data): several datasets can only be accessed by selected organisations or people. Please contact us for more details.

I have forgotten my Log-in credentials.

If you have forgotten your username and/or password go to password reset to reset your password. If you don’t remember your username, contact us.

How do I access a published national dataset?

To access the data of a published national dataset navigate to the Datasets section of the Spatial Hub web portal and navigate to your dataset of interest. You then have several options. You can view the Metadata or a Preview image of the map. But to access the data itself to use in a suitable (usually a GIS) application you can click Download or Web Services. To do so you must first have registerd and logged in to a free Spatial Hub account. Open Datasets are accessible immediately. A small number of ‘premium’ non-open datasets require access via a PSGA organisation or commercial license aggrement. To associate your account with an eligible organisation, please contact us.

I have forgotten my Authentication key.

The old organisation level authkeys are being phased out. Please register and log in, your authkey will be added to the download links automatically. If you need to register your account against a PSGA or commercial organisation, please contact us.

Can I preview a dataset?

Yes. To preview the published national datasets navigate to the Spatial Hub Data Preview page. This map allows you to zoom to different areas of Scotland and turn on and off any of our published national datasets to view its features. The preview map does not allow you to obtain any attribute information from our datasets. Attribution is only available via the dataset’s download or web services (accessible using your organisation’s authentication key).

My local authority's data were created using OS base mapping (e.g. OS Mastermap). Can I still upload it?

Yes. The Improvement Service has a good relationship with Ordnance Survey and is constantly discussing any licencing issues to do with their derived data. Therefore there are no restrictions on any data that you upload to the Spatial Hub.

What is INSPIRE and what am I expected to do?

INSPIRE is an EU Directive, written into Scottish law in 2009, that dictates that all public sector organisations must publish their environmental spatial datasets as discovery services i.e. metadata records, view services i.e. web map services, and download services i.e. web feature services. INSPIRE also specifies data transformations, though these are very complex so we are taking a pragmatic approach to this aspect. The Spatial Hub will meet all of Scottish local and national park authority’s INSPIRE obligations so long as they keep supplying us with up-to-date data.

If I upload my authority's data will it meet my INSPIRE obligations?

Yes. The Spatial Hub will publish INSPIRE compliant national datasets on local authority’s behalf.

If I upload my authority's data who will be accessing it?

Local authority data will be conflated into national datasets that will be open to most people in some form. However, some more valuable attribution for key datasets will only be made available freely available to the public PSGA members and academic organisations – with private sector organisations and the public having to obtain such data via our commercial partners.

My authority already publishes its data as a WFS. Can the Spatial Hub connect to this?

Yes. Within the dataset upload pages on the Spatial Hub there is the option to provide an existing WFS or ESRI REST API rather than upload zipped spatial files. Where possible, this is actually the preferred method of accessing data for providing data to the Spatial Hub.

My authority has lots of other dataset that it needs to publish under INSPIRE. Can I upload these now?

Yes. We are only creating national datasets from those data that are roughly common and consistent across local government. However, the Spatial Hub now allows registered uploaders to create new pages to add new or different datasets that can then be made available for download and sharing.

What relationship does the Spatial Hub have with the SSDI (Scottish spatial data infrastructure)?

All data that is published as part of the Spatial Hub will have a corresponding entry in the Scottish Spatial Data Infrastructure Metadata Catalogue. There are direct links to each dataset’s metadata record on the GET DATA pages and we now ‘pull across’ various elements of the metadata into the GET DATA page to help inform our users.

Can I display Spatial Hub datasets on a public-facing web map?

Yes – but only open datasets. Premium data that is available to the public PSGA members and academic sectors and can be obtained by private/ thired sector companies from our commercial partners must not be shared on public facing interactive web maps.

Can I share the Spatial Hub data with partners & consultants?

Yes – but only if they are licenced to access it; (usually using an Ordnance Survey Contractor Licence).

What copyright text should I use on any printable maps displaying Spatial Hub data?

You should use the following text: “Contains OS data © Crown copyright and database right {current year} and Scottish local authority data from the Spatial Hub”. You may also need to include your OS licence number if you are using OS data as a backdrop.

I am a member of the general public and would like access to a non-open 'premium' Spatial Hub dataset. Is that possible?

You can only do this by going through one of our commercial partners. Please contact us for more details.

I would like to access Spatial Hub datasets for academic or research purposes. Is this possible?

Yes.We now have a partnership agreement in place with University of Edinburgh’s EDINA and Spatial Hub data is now available via their DigiMap service.

Where has the Spatial Hub data contribution matrix gone?

The old contribution matrix did not meet new website accessibility criteria. Therefore, for the time being, it has been hidden from public view. However, we can provide an image of the current data contribution matrix on request. Longer term, we are considering how best to communicate various aspects (as well as completion) of Spatial Hub data quality.

How does the Spatial Hub measure and communicate data quality?

Data quality is potentially a huge area of consideration due to the different levels of granularity, context, dimensions and criteria that it could cover. The easiest aspect for the Spatial Hub to measure is national dataset completion and we have a contribution matrix in the Spatial Hub back end that can easily show this. Send an e-mail to: if you’d like to see the current view. When local authority data is processed into national data a series of arbitrary ‘quality assurance’ tests (covering both geometry and attribution) are made. The results of these tests, which represent certain aspects of the data that may need improving, are presented as a dashboard back to data providers (against the uploaded resources). Work is ongoing, in discussion with various national initiatives, to define how data quality could and should be described better using metadata.

How is the Spatial Hub funded?

Details of all the funding arrangement for the Improvement Service are documented here

Why are some datasets open and some not?

The decision has been made to open up (under Open Government Licence terms) as many datasets as possible. However, due to the supply of data from a number of sources, some datasets either cannot be shared openly for licencing reasons or lack of permissions. Please contact the Improvement Serivce should you wish to discuss further.

How can I make the Spatial Hub WFS work in IDOX Uniform for constraints checking?

IDOX Uniform requires a url that can work within a web browser (not just in GIS). The Spatial Hub urls require an additional get capabilities function for them to work. Users will need to add the following text manually to the end of the url.......&version=1.0.0&request=GetCapabilities e.g.

Can I map Spatial Hub data using R?

Yes, it is possible to read and map Spatial Hub data using R. We have developed a short documentation page on using R for mapping with Spatial Hub data.

Can I view Spatial Hub data in ArcGIS Pro?

Yes, it is possible to read and map Spatial Hub data using ArcGIS Pro. We have developed a short documentation page on using ArcGIS Pro for working with Spatial Hub data.

Can I map Spatial Hub data using QGIS?

Yes, it is possible to read and map Spatial Hub data using QGIS. We have developed a short documentation page on using QGIS for working with Spatial Hub data.

Can I view Spatial Hub data in ArcGIS Online?

Yes, it is possible to read and map Spatial Hub data using ArcGIS Online. We have developed a short documentation page on using ArcGIS Online for working with Spatial Hub data.