Celebrating Christmas across Great Britain – competition

FullSizeRenderWe thought we’d celebrate Christmas with a fun competition – and give you the amazing opportunity to win a limited edition OS MasterMap tie too.

There are some fabulous Christmas place names around Great Britain and we’ve put a small selection of them below. You can travel to Christmas Cross in Shropshire, but if you want to hang up your Stocking, you should head to Herefordshire and pop by Mistletoe Oak while you’re there. If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, then Snow Falls in North Yorkshire could be your best bet. You could navigate via the light of a Star (Somerset) – although you may like to use a good map instead.

But if your Christmassy travels brought you to Bethlehem (shown bottom right) – which county would you be in? Send in your answers on the blog by midday on Friday 19 December. We’ll pick a correct answer at random to win the mappy tie. Continue reading “Celebrating Christmas across Great Britain – competition”

Ordnance Survey sponsored MSc programme

Since 2001, we’ve sponsored over 100 students from more than 25 universities in our MSc dissertation programme. We look out for those doing research that fits in with our research strategy and where we will have an in-house ‘expert’ that can supervise alongside the student’s university supervisor. We provide advice, data where required and if available, and then sponsorship of up to £1000 on completion of their dissertation.

At least five students who completed a sponsored MSc with us then went on to be supported by us in their PhD too. Some of our research is outsourced and often achieved through our doctoral and postdoctoral research collaborations. Our support can range from providing industrial partner letters of support to contracting short-term pieces of work, and most things in between so there are opportunities at all levels. You can find out more about our PhD support on our websiteContinue reading “Ordnance Survey sponsored MSc programme”

Christmas film locations

There’s nothing nicer after a bracing winter walk than to warm yourself by the fire, throw some chestnuts on to roast and settle down in front of a nice Christmas film. Crack open that box of Quality Street and prepare to feel all warm and festive.

While many of us could probably recite word-for-word our favourite seasonal movies, we don’t often pay too much attention to the locations which have been sprayed with fake snow – yet they are just as important as the actors are.

Here are a few British Christmas film locations that you might have overlooked whilst rummaging round the tin for the elusive green triangle: Continue reading “Christmas film locations”

Cartographic Design Principles: Legibility

We are just over halfway through our series of posts about our Cartographic Design Principles. Last week we shone the spotlight on Simplicity and this week we continue our series as we turn our attention to Legibility. In its simplest definition, to be legible is to be easily read. It is extremely important for a map to be legible as the user should be able to easily understand the message that the cartographer was attempting to portray. Much in the same way as a book, if a map is difficult to read then it is likely to fail in its objective and not meet the user requirements.


OS Explorer Maps – designed for usability and legibility  Continue reading “Cartographic Design Principles: Legibility”

Finding the perfect Christmas present…

shutterstock_85582105Recently, we put together a survey to look at Great Britain’s Christmas gift buying habits.

Gift giving plays a big part in Christmas celebrations, and the findings reveal we spend months thinking about what presents to buy as well as a lot of effort trying to find the perfect gift.

Finding the perfect gift doesn’t always go smoothly though, as a whopping 81 per cent of us have at some point received a rubbish Christmas pressie. That’s an awful lot of feigned gratitude on December 25th. Continue reading “Finding the perfect Christmas present…”

Drive me to the moon…

Following the government’s recent announcements around investing in roads and infrastructure across Britain, we decided to take a dip into our database and investigate some of the 460 million features in there. We make over 10,000 changes a day to the geographic database of Great Britain and are already looking forward to capturing the details of any new roads, as well as changes to existing ones.

Take a look at some of the figures we’ve pulled out from our database.


Santa Map Competition winner!

Santa Map competition winnerBack at the end of October we announced our Santa Map competition, encouraging children under 12 to draw a map of the town, city of country where Santa lives, for the chance to win a prize to visit Santa in Lapland.

We had some amazing (and inventive) entries created on paper, on computer and even in Minecraft game worlds, so it was really difficult to narrow it down to a winner, but there could only be one. The judges finally decided on this amazing, detailed map by India, age 7, from High Wycombe.

We especially liked the correct use of a map legend and north arrow and the inclusion of the Northern Lights.

Here’s some more pictures of some of the entries and the judging team making their decision…

Continue reading “Santa Map Competition winner!”

Cartographic Design Principles: Simplicity

This is the fourth in our series of blog posts about our Cartographic Design Principles and this week we are taking a closer look at Simplicity. The concept for our own principles was initially  inspired by Dieter Rams and his ‘ten principles of good design’, one of which is ‘Good design is as little design as possible’ where he states:

Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.


Removing clutter allows a map to better portray its message  Continue reading “Cartographic Design Principles: Simplicity”

Using machine learning to build the future of 3D mapping


Earlier this year we made the alpha release of our building height attributes available to our existing OS MasterMap Topography Layer customers. Almost 20 million building heights across Great Britain were released as an early step in our migration to enhanced 3D geometry and we’ve been gathering feedback ever since.

One of the most common themes being fed into our OS Insight programme has been around the shapes of roofs, as this can help our customers make planning decisions, create realistic views and model sunlight and telephone signals around buildings. Our Research team have started to look into this for the future development of our product.

Currently, our building heights define the bottom of the building, and the top and bottom of the roof. Isabel Sargent and David Holland in our Research team have been working on a small project to see whether it’s possible to automatically extract the shape class of each roof and whether buildings that don’t fit simple height data can be identified.

Continue reading “Using machine learning to build the future of 3D mapping”

A beginner’s guide to caving

CavingQ: What is ‘spelunking’?

Answer: Exploring wild cave systems – or simply another name for caving or potholing. Far from being something altogether different, spelunking is the largely-American term for caving, which actually has strong etymological roots – having come from ‘speleology’, which is the scientific study of caves or their environments.

Whatever you choose to call it: caving, potholing or spelunking, there’s a world of subterranean labyrinths to explore, but where to start? For the uninitiated, here’s a potted history of potholing. Continue reading “A beginner’s guide to caving”