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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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?”

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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Insurance Customer Forum

In July we invited a select group of our insurance customers to join us aboard HMS Belfast in London for our first customer forum. Our aim for the forum was to share best practice of using mapping and addressing data for underwriting property insurance, whilst at the same time allowing the attendees to not only meet and network with peers, but also share discussion on key points bought up by the presenters. The format seemed to work – with customers welcoming the debate and discussion the agenda offered.

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Where are we?

Our Flying Unit travel the length and breadth of the country each year, capturing some 50,000 aerial images covering 40,000 km2 of Britain’s urban, rural, moorland and mountain terrain. 

Our planes are two Cessna 404s called G-TASK and G-FIFA and they each fly with a highly-detailed digital camera – probably one the highest resolution cameras in the country – at 196 megapixels, which allows us to take high resolution images even from the skies. See this example below:

where-are-we
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Maps on trend

map-floor-hay-on-wyeA recent article in The Times, confirmed what we already knew at map HQ – maps are the height of style right now. They said that maps are “both on trend and versatile: living room, bathroom or man cave – maps work anywhere.”

While, maps have traditionally been framed and hung on a wall, there appears to be an increasing variety in the way they are used. And we’re not talking small pieces anymore, maps are going HUGE! Our map floor at Hay-on-Wye festival last year was a big hit too. Continue reading “Maps on trend”

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games map now available

ICE-commonwealth-games-mapThe World Cup, Wimbledon and British Grand Prix may be over, but the sporting extravaganza continues this summer, with the Commonwealth Games kicking off in Scotland next week. We’ve worked with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) to create a special map which showcases Glasgow’s infrastructure works ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

The ‘Engineering the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games’ map includes civil engineering firsts such as the Hampden Park surface raising, which lifted the surface six feet on metal stilts to accommodate the running track and athletics field. Continue reading “Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games map now available”

Step up to the mountain challenge

This September past GeoVation winner, guerrilla geographer and explorer Daniel Raven-Ellison is going to step up to the height of Mount Everest (29,029 ft) only using stairs in London tallest buildings.

How high can you climb by using stairs in your house, school or neighbourhood? Can you step up to the height of a mountain?

Image and link to Step up Mountain mapping tool

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