Register for our hack day

Are you interested in a fun weekend learning about the data provided by the Environment Agency and Ordnance Survey and creating some cool demos that showcase how technology can help us all be more green and environmentally responsible?

If so, register here for env[:hack], a Hack Day being organised by the Environment Agency with help from Geeks of London and GeoVation.  The event will be held on 16-17 March 2013 at the University of Bristol and aims to bring together around 80 software and hardware developers, Environment Agency experts and interesting data.

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The return of the GeoDoctor

Broken line of code stopping you from embedding a web-map on your website? Haven’t quite managed to mend the markers on your online map? An offline mapping-related problem that you need some advice with? Well, have no fear, help is here!

Back by popular demand, our resident GeoDoctor returns on Thursday 17 January. From 10 am to 3 pm, we’ll be holding our first GeoSurgery of 2013 at the Google Campus in London. During the drop-in session, the GeoDoctor will be on hand to diagnose and provide advice for all of those Geo-related aches, pains and agonies that might have been preventing you from making headway with your project – helping you get back on track by prescribing the next course of action.

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Our top ten for 2011

As 2011 draws to a close we thought we’d share with you our top ten most popular blog stories from the year. If you’re new to the blog, get a feel for the things we talk about; and if you’re a regular blog-reader, remind yourself of what we’ve been talking about this year.

And if there’s anything you’d like to see more of or any questions you’d like answered on the blog – let us know.

10. Know your grid references – for those of you who aren’t sure of how to take a grid reference – here’s a step by step guide.

9. All of a Twitter about mapping – a two week period of tweeting by our surveyors gave you a flavour of the work they do every day.

8. Mapping applications for your phone – location based applications are big business in the Smartphone market and none more so than apps using Ordnance Survey data.

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The return of the map symbols quiz

Back by popular demand…welcome to the second edition of our map symbols quiz. In the past tree symbols were hand drawn by our cartographers, later symbols were ‘stuck’ to the map by hand and now, of course, the symbols are added by our cartographers via computer systems.

When you’re out and about using our well-known OS Landranger and OS Explorer Maps – do you know what all of the symbols mean? They’re there to give you valuable information about the environment you’re in.

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Five geo-predictions for 2011

The GeoDoctor turns his mind to the the coming year

The GeoDoctor turns his mind to the year ahead.

Traditionally, the New Year is a time to reflect on what has passed and what’s on the horizon. So, with the help of my colleagues, I thought this was a good time to take a look at some possible trends in the geospatial industry, and to even to make a few predictions for the year ahead.

I thought I would stay clear of the areas that other bloggers have covered so well, and try and give a little more left-field perspective.

1. A significant open data application.

We’ve seen an increasing amount of open data released in recent years and there has been a huge amount written about it and how it could be used. There have been a number of implementations (dare I mention the ASBOrometer?!) but what I haven’t seen, and please correct me if I’m wrong, is a huge consumer app, or killer app which is commercial and actually makes money.

I think 2011 could be the year it happens.

2. More online geospatial service providers.

I think this area will inevitably grow. Last year we saw the launch of online based GI services from both the traditional vendors as well as new entrants to the market, such as GIS Cloud. Why do I find this an area of interest? I think it’s because the barriers to entry are now so much lower.

Most GI functionality is now available as open source, so hosting and delivering online is considerably cheaper and faster to implement, thanks to cloud infrastructure. Read More


GeoDoctor let loose

geoclinic-xmasA lot as been going on in the last few months, so it’s been a while since the last GeoClinic post.

Most notably, the GeoDoctor has been on tour around the country, supporting the free one-day Open Data Master Classes, organised by the Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute and Centre for Geospatial Sciences at The University of Nottingham. The day introduced participants to open data initiatives and concluded with an afternoon practical session.

OS Open Data provided the context and framework for using other open data sets in these practicals. Those practicals will be published in due course once the tour is complete. Key messages that we hoped participants would go away with were, how to get hold of open data, how it can be used, and most importantly, although it may appear daunting, real innovative uses of data can be brought about.

So for all those who haven’t yet had an opportunity to look at the open public data sets, please visit For those that have, it may be a chance to re-visit and look at what other people have been building in the app gallery.

We still have one date remaining on the current tour, in Southampton, which was cancelled due to the recent snow. It’ll be rescheduled in the New Year.

As for OS OpenSpace, it has been a pretty busy year and there’ll be no let up for the team in 2011 either. Our focus will remain on making the service easier  to use. 2010 saw the introduction of Web Map Builder which has been hugely successful, and we’ll see emphasis given to feedback we’ve recieved on improving it. So stay tuned.

Many of you will be following the GeoVation challenge. GeoVation, with funding from Ideas in Transit, is offering a slice of £150,000 for innovative ideas that could help improve transport in Britain. Enties for the challenge need to be in by 11 February 2011.

Finally, the new year brings a new home for the GeoClinic, as we move to the new Ordnance Survey offices.

All that is left for me to say, is a happy holiday season to everyone from the GeoDoctor!


Walk of the week: Ullswater from Patterdale

The walk of the week this week comes courtesy of Walks Around Britain. They’ve written about a route, Ullswater from Patterdale.

Length of route:
4 miles (6.4km)

Suitable for:

The details:
From the Pay and Display car park opposite The Patterdale Hotel, turn right and walk along the road until you reach the school on the right hand side.  Head out on the public footpath between the school and follow the track over the footbridge.

When you get to Side Farm, head for the path between the buildings and then turn left , following the track up towards Devil’s Chimney.  Here, you can get your first great view of Ullswater.

Then. taking care over the rocks, trek down the path before climbing again to reach Silver Crag.  For the best view of Ullswater, bear left and climb up the path to get to Silver Point.

Once you’ve seen the view from Silver Point, head left, go past a small stream and then right at the split in the path.  You must take care on the climb here, as the rocks can been slippy here.

The path drops down gradually, past some old quarry workings on your left.  Keep following the path then bear right, across the footbridge which leads to a gate at the end of the track.

Once you’re through the gate, follow the path to meet the main road and turn right to head back to the car park – not before perhaps having a welcome drink at the White Lion Pub.

The map you will need for this walk is OS Explorer OL5

If you’d like some pictures, you can download them from Walks Around Britain’sFlickr photostream.


Special GeoClinic from Pakistan

A special GeoClinic this week because on 19 August the Ordnance Survey GeoDoctor, Ian Holt, flew out to join the MapActionPakistan flood response team based in Islamabad.

MapAction is a volunteer-based charity which provides mapping data and expertise to show relief agencies the locations where people are in greatest need and make sure that vital aid reaches them.

Here the GeoDoctor gives us an insight into MapAction’s work and how it is supporting agencies in Pakistan:

Ian Holt AKA 'The GeoDoctor' in Pakistan

Ian Holt AKA ‘The GeoDoctor’ in Pakistan

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Top 5 OS OpenSpace questions

In this GeoClinic I thought I would take a look at, and answer, some of the top 5 questions our wonderful Customer Service Center receive. So, thanks to Marie and Kate in the team for helping put these questions together.


1. I’ve forgotten (or how do I reset) my OS OpenSpace password?

This can all be easily handled online.
– Go to the OS OpenSpace Forum
– Click on Login (top right-hand box)
– Click on “I forgot my password”
– Follow the instructions

2. My API key is registered to the wrong URL or I wish to add another UR to my API key

Registering a URL in OS OpenSpace links it to the API key sent to you. However, it is often the case that you wish to host the application at another URL or even host your application on two URLs. If this is the case, then simply contact us and we’ll be able to help you with the change you wish to make.

Please note that the tile and lookup limits are assigned to the API key, so if you are using multiple URLs against one API key you’ll be spreading the limits amongst all those URLs.

OS OpenSpace

3. I would like to develop my application before deploying it to the registered URL, will my API key still work?

Your API key will work against your registered URL and localhost, for example http://localhost/myapp.html. This means you can install a webserver on your development/test environment and your application will work perfectly well if you can access it using localhost. Just as it will do when deployed at your registered URL.

4. I get an “HTTP Referrer not Valid” message

This is typically caused by there being a mismatch between your API key and the URL you have registered. Please check that the API key your have entered is the one the registration process sent to you. Otherwise, please get in touch so we can check that the API key and URL you are using are correctly registered. Please include your API key and the URL you are using in any correspondance.

5. I’m interested in upgrading to OS OpenSpace Pro. Please tell me more about it and how I can sign up.

The following link has details about OS OpenSpace Pro. Currently, Pro enhances OS OpenSpace by offering no data volume limits with our charged utility pricing model. If you’re interested in using OS OpenSpace Pro, just let us know.