British geology added to Ordnance Survey Minecraft map

It’s almost a year since one of summer interns, Joseph Braybook, built a Minecraft world using OS OpenData products, representing over 224,000 square kilometers of Great Britain and we made it available for you to download and explore. We’ve seen around 170,000 downloads since last September, and it seems particularly fitting, that as the one year anniversary draws near, the British Geological Survey (BGS) have gone one step further and recreated the geology of Great Britain beneath the surface. 

Drawing on inspiration from our map last year, the new BGS Minecraft map uses our surface data and adds in their own information on the rough position of real geology beneath, right down to the bedrock. BGS produced the Minecraft blocks using data from their parent material map. In the UK, parent materials provide the basic foundations and building blocks of the soil, influencing their texture, structure, drainage and chemistry.

By peeling away the surface OS map, BGS show the underlying geology beneath the Isle of Wight.

By peeling away the surface OS map, BGS show the underlying geology beneath the Isle of Wight.

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Staying alert to Ticks and Lyme Disease

Ixodes ricinus tick by Thomas Zimmermann Creative Commons Licence

Ixodes ricinus tick by Thomas Zimmermann Creative Commons Licence

Today’s blog is written by Sophie Whitemore, a student at Peter Symonds College. She has just finished her A-Levels in Biology and Environmental Science and was an intern at OS for a week this summer.

Tick-Tock Tick-Tock, summer is drawing to an end and many of you may have spent the past few months walking, cycling, roaming and exploring around the Great British Isles. Scarily, you probably were not alone.

Along with all the woodland creatures you may have spent some time with Ixodes Ricinus (Tick) and this time of the year is the most popular time for this type of tick to make an unwanted appearance.

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Could you find your way using a map and a compass?

We said a couple of weeks ago that we had wildlife and outdoors expert Simon King in our Southampton head office being interviewed on numerous radio stations about the importance of navigation and knowing where you are. Simon also filmed a short video for us that day. Filmed in the glorious New Forest, Simon and the camera crew interviewed a number of visitors to find out their navigation skills, before reminding us of the basics.

Watch the video below:

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Putting Doctor Who’s Tardis on the map

Tomorrow night will see the much-anticipated return of Doctor Who on our TV screens, with the new Doctor played by Peter Capaldi. We’ll be pleased to see the Tardis back on our screens because of its connection to our maps. As you may know know, the real-life function of those boxes that the Tardis has adopted, was as a telephone call box connecting you to your local police station.

Doctor Who Tardis map

In the early 20th century, hundreds of police call boxes (PCBs) sat on street corners waiting to be used. As phone boxes became more common place (first the famous red design and now the more modern glass version) and then home phones and mobiles phones took over, the PCBs fell out of use.

However, many of them still exist around the country – and for those in their original locations, they are still on our mapping data. Some 203 PCBs are still marked on our maps, although only a fraction of those are recognisable as the Tardis that we still know and love today.  Continue reading “Putting Doctor Who’s Tardis on the map”

Where is the centre of Great Britain?

Is Haltwhistle the centre of Britain?

Is Haltwhistle the centre of Britain?

One of the most common questions we are asked in Ordnance Survey’s Press Office is ‘where is the geographic centre of Britain?’ Most recently, the BBC got in contact with us, framing their article around the question of Scottish Independence and the effect that would have on the centre of Great Britain. The question continues to bubble up as it always has been a contentious issue with many differing views on locations – and even how you define the centre, define Great Britain, and how you measure it.

As you’ll see in the BBC article, the town of Haltwhistle in Northumberland proudly proclaims itself to be the centre of Great Britain as it is mid-way along the mainland’s longest line of longitude; and there is a stone cross in Meriden, near Coventry, claiming to be the geographical centre of England. Some people claim the point farthest from the sea must be the centre (a spot just east of Church Flatts Farm, about a mile south-east of Coton-in-the-Elms, Derbyshire), but others don’t think this can accurately be called the centre…so, where is the centre of Great Britain? Continue reading “Where is the centre of Great Britain?”

Talking GeoVation at the RGS Annual International Conference

We’re pleased to announce that Chris Parker from our GeoVation team, along with past GeoVation Challenge judges, will be taking part in the Royal Geographical Society’s Annual International Conference next week.

Chris is chairing a session on Wednesday 27 August on Innovation and coastal tourism (1) The Wales Coast Path: Promoting health and economic wellbeing. Our GeoVation Challenge in early 2012 looked at how people who lived and worked along, or visited the 870 mile (1,400 km) coastal path could use innovative digital technology to  benefit from the ‘world first’ opportunity. Wales was the first country in the world to launch a complete perimeter coastal path on 5th May 2012. The Wales Coast Path has already generated an additional £32 million in revenue (BBC News, 26 November 2013). Continue reading “Talking GeoVation at the RGS Annual International Conference”

Explore Great Britain’s historical landmarks

You could say that we’re a nation obsessed with our history. Turn on the television and what do you see? Celebrities on historical quests to trace their family roots, historical documentaries about individuals or battles, and period dramas set in and around some of Britain’s famous historical landmarks.

We admire them when they’re on the box, but how often do we actually get out there and see the amazing historical landmarks that are right on our doorstop? Here’s a rundown of some of our favourites.


When writing about historical landmarks in the UK, it would seem almost churlish to start anywhere but Stonehenge. Regardless of how you know of it – be it The Beatles performing in ‘Help!‘ with a clearly visible Stonehenge in the background, the infamous rock classic “Stonehenge” in mockumentary ‘This is Spinal Tap’, or more recently several episodes of ‘Doctor Who’, the point is we all know of it. Continue reading “Explore Great Britain’s historical landmarks”

Have you used our Minecraft map of Great Britain?

Last summer, one of our interns, Joseph Braybrook, created a Minecraft world of Great Britain using our OS OpenData products. In September 2013, we released the world for users to download and explore – all 22 billion blocks of it!

Minecraft map of Southampton Water

Southampton Water

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Garmin Vivofit activity band review

Garmin Vivofit reviewI’ve decided to try the new Garmin Vivofit for a couple of weeks and share my impressions of this wearable device that measures your activity and encourages you to keep active.

While this may show my embarrassingly sedentary life, it might help you decide if this kind of wearable technology would be of help in maintaining your personal activity and fitness levels.
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Brush up on your map reading skills

Last week we had wildlife and outdoors expert Simon King in head office, being interviewed on numerous radio stations to sing the praises of navigation and the importance of knowing where you are. You can watch a snippet from Simon’s interviews below. 

Continue reading “Brush up on your map reading skills”