Digital Landscapes

A temporary exhibition compiled and showcased by Northumberland National Park Authority has received a nationally-acclaimed award from GIS technology specialist, ESRI, for its innovative use of data.

Digital Landscapes, which premiered at The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre last summer, was designed to showcase how the National Park is utilising data to help gain a deeper understanding of our landscape in order to benefit the area’s tourist industry, as well as land management and conservation work.

Using pioneering interactive technologies such as augmented and virtual reality and photogrammetry, alongside data dashboards of live data sets collected by National Park Rangers, visitors could get hands-on to explore hidden areas of our landscape and gain a never-before-seen glimpse of the inner workings of the National Park.

“We were absolutely overwhelmed at the positive reaction from the public to the Digital Landscapes exhibition. Over the course of 3 months, we welcomed over 30,000 visitors,” said Ed Hudspeth, GIS Officer at Northumberland National Park Authority.

“Embracing technology and looking forward is paramount to what we do. We need to evidence our work to show people how we make our decisions and our GIS (Geographic Information System) gives us the tools to be able to do that, our challenge was to make this accessible to the general public.

Ed Hudspeth and Andrew Mitchell collect ESRI award

Ed Hudspeth and Andrew Mitchell collect ESRI award

“Focusing on data, we created a showcase of how we as a National Park use digital tools to help conserve the landscape. The public were guided through the collection, analysis and interpretation of spatial data, to see how it’s turned into useful information to better inform the policies and decision-making processes at the National Park.

“GIS is a tool used throughout local and national government, including planning authorities and emergency services but it is rarely displayed or made available to the public. We wanted to address that and open up the National Park to the masses, harnessing the power of technology to bring its treasures to life through GIS for the first time ever.”

The National Park’s innovative use of GIS software saw them recognised with the prestigious Community Engagement Customer Success Award at the ESRI UK Annual Conference 2019.

ESRI Customer Success Award for Community Engagement

Northumberland National Park Authority was announced as the winner of the 2019 ESRI Customer Success Award for Community Engagement on Tuesday 21st May 2019.

Community Engagement

Stuart Bonthrone, Managing Director at Esri UK, said:

“We are delighted to have made Northumberland National Park the recipient of our Community Engagement Customer Success Award.

“Their extremely successful Digital Landscapes Exhibition epitomised the power of technology to engage and inspire communities and we were most impressed with the team’s innovative use of ArcGIS to both enhance displays and, ultimately, help to educate, inform and inspire people to explore their National Park.”

Although Digital Landscapes is no longer on display at The Sill, this is not the end for the award-winning concept.

“As an organisation we learned a lot from the exhibition, and especially using spatial data and tools to engage with the public,” said Andrew Mitchell, Digital Officer at Northumberland National Park Authority.

“Since the exhibition closed last September, we’ve started thinking about ways in which the public can contribute to our spatial data in a meaningful way, from crowdsourcing conservation data, as well as expanding our data collection to our volunteers.

“In addition to this, the content we created, from our 360-degree film to the digital artefact archive will all eventually become part of our permanent exhibition to educate more people about the wonders of our National Park.”

To find out more about temporary exhibitions at The Sill and to view our events programme, visit www.thesill.org.uk.