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Heritage Information Access Strategy

The Heritage Information Access Strategy (HIAS) is an initiative and programme of work intended to secure an improved and more cost effective approach to the handling of digital historic environment data by Historic England and our partners in local authority historic environment records. The vision for the strategy is to create a single, logical, digital and shared national heritage record.

What is the Heritage Information Access Strategy about?

The strategy aims to resolve long-standing issues of complexity and duplication of effort in the management of and access to heritage data nationally. The goal is to improve the utility and attractiveness of the information to users and provide enhanced support for the planning system.

It also aims to integrate research and investigation of built heritage with that of landscape, buried and submerged archaeology to ensure that the record represents the whole historic environment.

This shared national heritage record will define clearer roles for data creators, local authority Historic Environment Records (HERs) and Historic England, and formalise agreements which will share the joint responsibility and potentially huge benefits of a fully integrated approach.

Eight key principles for the strategy

To develop a strategic approach to this broad vision with the historic environment sector, the following eight key principles have been proposed to provide a common and shared starting position:

Principle 1: Local Authority HERs should be the first point of call for and primary trusted source of investigative research data and knowledge.

Principle 2: Historic England should be the first point of call for and primary trusted source of national datasets such as the National Maritime Record.

Principle 3: Historic England should continue to champion the development, maintenance and implementation of standards for the creation, management and storage of digital historic environment data.

Principle 4: Investigative research data or knowledge should be readily uploaded, validated and accessed online.

Principle 5: The national overview should continue to be delivered online through the Heritage Gateway.

Principle 6: Such data or knowledge should not be at risk of loss, fragmentation, inundation (in data), or system obsolescence.

Principle 7: Historic England should, on behalf of the nation, ensure that a security copy of all such data exists in accordance with Principles 3 and 6.

Principle 8: Digital data should be supported by material archives in safe repositories accessible to the public.

The HIAS Programme

The HIAS programme is a coordinated series of projects and work packages which will only succeed fully with collaboration and help from key stakeholders from the sector. The programme team within Historic England is therefore supported by an advisory panel of key external partners and stakeholders.

HIAS external Advisory Board consists of representatives from the following groups and organisations:

Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers - ALGAO

Institute of Historic Building Conservation - IHBC

Chartered Institute for Archaeologists - CIfA

Council for British Archaeology - CBA

Archaeology Data Service - ADS

Royal Institute of British Architects - RIBA

Society for Museum Archaeology - SMA

Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers - FAME

Planning Officers Society - POS

Arts and Humanities Research Council - AHRC

Archaeological Archives Forum - AAF

Joint Committee of the National Amenity Societies - JCNAS

Commercial built environment sub-sector

Academic Research Community.

The Programme has completed an initiation phase which included set up and meetings of the external Advisory Board, a literature review, and business process mapping of current information recording and exchange processes.

The strategy is now embodied in the Historic England Corporate Plan Objective 2.6: “With our partners, improve access to information through local Historic Environment Records and explore ways of moving towards a single means of accessing historic environment information nationally ”. This aim is addressed by the HE Action Plan Objective 2.6.1. “Improve access to heritage information ”.

A number of working groups of Historic England staff and external partners, have been established to take forward a set of task-specific work packages for the HIAS programme.

More information on the HIAS work

This commissioned project provided the HIAS programme and advisory board with an analysis of how current Historic England processes and data flows interface both internally and with key external systems and processes.

HIAS Phase 2 Work Packages

For Phase 2 of the HIAS programme a set of nine work packages have defined the ‘To Be’ processes and the requirements for future systems developments. Some of the work packages included projects funded through the Heritage Protection Commissions Programme. The nine work packages are listed below with the respective leaders for each. For more general information about the Heritage Information Access Strategy please contact Keith May.

  1. Roles and Responsibilities - Gillian Grayson and Barney Sloane
  2. Historic Environment Records - Ben Wallace (Chair ALGAO-UK HER Committee)
  3. Collecting and validating data - Louisa Matthews (Archaeology Data Service)
  4. National Security Copy - Martin Newman
  5. Marine HER/Pastscape/AMIE - Martin Newman
  6. Heritage Gateway - Gillian Grayson
  7. Data Sharing and Rights - Keith May
  8. Communication and Engagement - Keith May
  9. Phase Two Completion/ Plan Phase Three - Sarah Poppy

Phase 2 of the HIAS programme has now completed and the end of Phase 2 completion report which sets out key outcomes and recommendations from Phase 2, along with initial plans for the next phase, is now available below, along with the work package reports for Phase 2.

HIAS Consultation Survey

During March 2016 we asked for feedback on:

  • the principles which form the HIAS vision, and
  • proposals for the HIAS programme so far.

Many thanks for your input, we have now evaluated the responses and produced two reports available below. The Overview of Responses gives an executive summary of key results for the main topics covered in the consultation. The Consultation Feedback Report goes into more detail and provides results and feedback for each of the questions in the consultation.

HIAS Consultation Reports

HIAS Phase 3 Work Packages

In Phase 3 the existing work packages will move forward to the development of systems and processes with additional work packages to support those that are in the development stage. Several of the work packages will be coordinated with projects funded through the Heritage Protection Commissions Programme.

The Phase 3 work packages are listed below with the respective leaders for each including their email addresses if you want more information about a particular work package. For more general information about the Heritage Information Access Strategy please contact Keith May.

  1. Roles and Responsibilities - Barney Sloane
  2. Historic Environment Records - Ben Wallace (Chair ALGAO-UK HER Committee)
  3. Collecting and Validating Data - Louisa Matthews (Archaeology Data Service)
  4. National Security Copy - Jane Golding and Martin Newman
  5. National Marine Heritage Dataset - Joe Flatman and Gillian Grayson 
  6. Heritage Gateway - Gillian Grayson
  7. NRHE to HERS: Data Supply & Reconciliation - Gillian Grayson
  8. Internal HE Requirements - Barney Sloane and Sarah Reilly
  9. Heritage Reference Data - Phil Carlisle and Gillian Grayson
  10. Data Sharing and Rights - Keith May
  11. Communication and Engagement - Keith May
  12. Training and Benefits Planning - Sarah Poppy and Keith May
  13. Phase 3 Completion - Sarah Poppy

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Keith May - photo
Keith May

Information Strategy Advisor

Research Group: Strategic Planning & Management