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the GiGLer

The newsletter of Greenspace Information of Greater London CIC

Rivers of Data

Matt Davies, GiGL Project and Data Development Manager

We always knew that iGiGL, our new online mapping interface, had great potential. Its value in allowing users to access our data without the need for desktop mapping software has already been recognised by Natural England and the Environment Agency. For no sooner had we launched iGiGL than they approached us about the possibility of extending its functionality.

GiGL is the lead partner in the resulting project to improve delivery of key river datasets via iGiGL. In so doing, we will be able to provide additional services to GiGL partners.

The project builds on the work of the Urban River Survey and London Rivers Action Plan (see inset). The overall aim is to secure an understanding of the ecological potential of all London’s urban rivers and to identify and prioritise locations and techniques for river restoration.

Initial projects

The Urban River Survey was developed by Dr Angela Boitsidis, Professor Angela Gurnell and Lucy Shuker of Queen Mary, University of London and is a scientific assessment method and suite of tools that supports the work of river managers in urban environments. The survey, which is a development of the Environment Agency’s River Habitat Survey, records information on the physical structure of 500m stretches of urban rivers and their margins.

The London Rivers Action Plan is a collaborative project to facilitate a programme of river restoration across the London and track progress towards the delivery of London Plan river restoration targets and good ecological potential. Nearly 100 projects have been identified with numerous large scale projects on the Lee, Wandle, Ravensbourne, Crane and Roding catchments.

Mapping the Urban River Survey and London Rivers Action Plan datasets on iGiGL will make analysis of both more simple. Having this information on iGiGL will make it possible to identify the best locations and types of river restoration to ensure the ‘good ecological potential’. In so doing, we will help ensure that London rivers meet the requirements of the Water Framework Directive and ensure enhanced biodiversity and ecosystem service outcomes. It will help inform green infrastructure planning decisions and advice given by our partner agencies, Natural England and the Environment Agency, and by borough planners.

Another partner in the project, Queen Mary University, have now completed entry of existing Urban River Survey data and have run a training workshop on the use of the urban rivers habitat survey tool for project partner staff, local government and civil society organisations. This should increase capacity for river surveys, so completing the coverage and helping ensure the legacy of the project.

Here at GiGL, we are busy preparing data for display on the web, and have commissioned exeGesIS, our GIS consultants, to undertake further development of iGiGL. Work is on-going and will result in:

•   Log-in access controls – so only appropriate users, including GiGL partners, can see the new datasets

•   A content management system that will allow GiGL staff to upload and refresh the data

•   GiGL partners being able to download the datasets

•   The ability of certain registered users to edit the datasets on-line (for example, to update the status of a project)

•   The ability to alert registered users to updates

I am very excited about these developments and I look forward to being able to share the enhanced version of iGiGL with you in the near future. Above and beyond river data, I think that the mapping interface has huge potential for enhancing the broader delivery of London’s environmental data, to both the general public and professional audiences, and firmly believe this is just the beginning.

If you have been inspired by what you have read and have suggestions for future development of iGiGL, please contact

This was a partnership project between Natural England, Queen Mary, University of London, University of Sheffield, Environment Agency and software developers Untyped Ltd.

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