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GSE GiG Awards 2019

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Reward & Recognition, Specialism Deep Dives

It was wonderful to see so many geographers from across the public sector at the inaugural GSE Geographers in Government awards.

Whilst geography is still a relatively new "profession" within GSE, in just 16 months we have:

  • grown to over 800 members;
  • launched a number of initiatives to support geographers, from an annual conference to a webinar series and an online community; and
  • are starting to lay the foundations for our future through our work with the Analytical Function and the Geospatial Commission.

But there’s no point having a profession for a professions sake! The point of a profession is that we support our members to do their jobs to the best of their ability. Which is why the awards were my personal highlight of the last 16 months, as it really demonstrated to me the massive impact geographers are having applying geographic thinking and spatial data to the design and delivery of policy across the public sector.

The 5 (actually 6!) Awards

I am very grateful to Rita Gardner CBE for helping present the awards and Jon Pickstone and the Scottish Government for hosting the awards. Rita and John, along with Liz Fox-Tucker (Defra), Alistair Edwardes (ONS) and Catherine Souch (RGS) were awarded the Founders Award (an extra award for being there at the start!).

Geography in Government award presentation
Rita Gardner opened the ceremony just before receiving her Founders Award.

The judging panels had a tough time selecting first the shortlist and then the winners for each individual category, but I’m pleased to announce the winners for the 5 categories were:

  • Advancing geospatial data science – Geography Spatial Analysts Team at the Office for National Statistics.
  • Operational Delivery – Ben Payne at Natural England.
  • Excellence in geo-visualisation and cartography – Charley Glynn, Tim Martin, Oliver Snowden and Andrew Radburn at the Ordnance Survey.
  • Impact on Policy – Jamie O’Donnell at the Department for Transport.
  • Contribution to the profession – The DGC Learning and Development Team at the Ministry of Defence.

The Royal Geographical Society (RGS) did a fantastic job of reproducing a historical map personalised for the winner of each category (see RGS website for more details on each award).

2018 Geography in Government Award

The main GSE Geography in Government award was selected from the winners of each individual category and will be presented at the Royal Geographical Society annual awards evening. Since 1832, the RGS’s prestigious medals and awards have recognised excellence in geography and it’s fantastic that our award will be recognised and presented as part of this event, reflecting the important work geographers in the public sector do.

I’m very pleased to announce that the winner of the inaugural Geography in Government award was to the Geography Spatial Analysts Team at the Office for National Statistics for work undertaken for the United Nations World Data Forum on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Winners of the Geography in Government Award
The Geography Spatial Analysts Team at the Office for National Statistics won both the "Advancing geospatial data science" category and the inaugural Geography in Government Award.

Vanessa Lawrence a recognised international geospatial leader who helped judge the main award commented that:

“The Office for National Statistics for me had created something that really will give lasting global impact.  Measuring the proportion of rural population living within 2km of an all-season road for every country in the globe is a vital indicator to understand how we can try to impact the 700 Million people who live on less than $1.9 per day, which is the World Bank’s definition of poverty.  If we can locate those areas with significant populations living within a near distance of an all-season road, investment can be made into the area to assist the population to try to alleviate their poverty”

Stefan Schweinfest, the Director of Geospatial and Statistics for the whole United Nations and the person who holds the Mandate to set up the indicators for all the SDGs added the following:

“I very much welcome the establishment of the Geography in Government Awards, and I warmly congratulate all awardees! I note with particular satisfaction that one award goes to our friends and colleagues in the ONS for their important contribution to the measurement and support of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda! I thank all British Geographers for their consistent support of our global work.”

Start thinking about next year!

Next year’s awards will cover contributions made over 2019, so start storing up your examples for when the nominations open next January!

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