Ordnance Survey insurance case study — more accurate insurance premiums

In this video case study, we look at how insurance companies can use Ordnance Survey data to manage their policies and monitor their exposure, and how they can make informed decisions about their spread of risk. Using this information, they can then offer tailored premiums to individual customers.

To find out more about how Ordnance Survey data can be used, visit our case study finder.

Think up-to-date and get legal!

Guest post by Dan Hughes, Sector Manager of Land & Property at Ordnance Survey

Over the last 10 years the use of digital location-based information has changed significantly, from being used by only a small number of organisations to becoming an essential business decision-making tool. This increased reliance on, and recognition of, digital mapping data has also resulted in customers demanding the most up-to-date information available.

Ordnance Survey makes up to 10 000 changes to the master map database of Great Britain every day, reflecting the rapid developments in the nation’s environment. However, it is not only important for organisations to have the most up-to-date data, but also vital that they have the appropriate licence to effectively use it. The use of older, unlicensed data not, only has legal and cost implications, but also risks damaging professional reputations, which may have taken many years to build.

It is important to ensure that you are using the very latest licensed data, which means you can rely on it to be accurate and consistent, but more importantly that your company’s reputation is secure.

The use of properly-licensed data can also represent significant time and cost savings. Thames Valley Housing estimates that investing in the very latest data is enabling the housing provider to save £200 000 in grounds maintenance costs each year, without impacting on its quality of service – a total saving of £2 million over a typical 10 year maintenance contract.

We are running a campaign at the moment to encourage land and property professionals such as surveyors, conveyancers and developers to ensure they are licensed and up-to-date. It’s supported by RICS, Land Data and leading industry figures and features a series of videos which explain why it’s important.

Professionals who have any doubts about whether their location data license is up-to-date should contact their data supplier or Ordnance Survey directly for guidance.

Could you make a profit from mapping and location data?

Ordnance Survey’s location information is used in a wide range of businesses. From standard location maps and ‘how to find us’ information on websites to much more complex ways for insurance companies to identify fraud and for utility companies to record where their assets are, Ordnance Survey information is estimated to underpin almost a billion pounds-worth of related IT spend in Services, Software and Hardware.

We are always looking for new and interesting ways for our data to be used to help solve problems and to make processes more efficient for businesses. Regular blog readers and those interested in public sector efficiency will, no doubt, be aware of the numerous ways our data is used to make public services more responsive and efficient, but are possibly not so aware of the numerous business applications that either use or data directly, or in part to answer real questions, these uses include where to site major developments, understanding financial risk from flood or fire, or just making sure that deliveries to customers happen on time every time.

A new conference on 8 May called Location 2012 will discuss and showcase how business can profit from the use of location in growing business.  With partners like Microsoft, Experian and Pitney Bowes to name a few, we will be exploring the real benefit and profit business people can realise by using location data to solve everyday business problems, along with practical hints and tips for making the most of Ordnance Survey’s vast suite of products.

The event will bring together GI (geographical information) specialists and innovative business people to show how they can make money using location information. The event will introduce technology companies to the potential profitability of location data and show how solving problems using geographic information is already common place across all business markets.

Continue reading “Could you make a profit from mapping and location data?”

How the recession transformed the high street

In an article from the latest issue of Intelligence magazine for the land and property market, Guy Grainger, Head of Retail at Jones Lang LaSalle, gives his views on how shopping habits will change and the importance of location of stores for retailers in the current environment.

High street retailers face an epic battle next year, with consumer spending under pressure and competition from out-of-town parks and supermarkets. When Sir Philip Green announced that he would close up to 300 regional stores operated by his Arcadia brand, it was interpreted as another threat to the vibrancy of the UK high street.

Woolworths was just one victim of the recession

High street Woolworths stores were just one victim of the recession

“This is a very common theme,” says Grainger. “It gets in the press because it’s Philip Green, but really it could be any other retailer out there.” HMV and Game Group are two he names as walking away from less profitable regional stores when leases come to an end. The result? Rising vacancies in the high streets and shopping centres of affected towns.

“London and the South East are proving to be very robust in the downturn, but the regional picture is not nice to see,’ he says. ‘The locations that retailers choose to walk away from could be areas of high unemployment, or high streets that are overshadowed by a large out-of-town retail destination or food store,” he adds.

“Spend has shifted from the high street to somewhere else. The supermarkets are the real powerhouses; they are all expanding, and they sell more non-food lines than ever before.”

What our data shows

By comparing the number of retail addresses across Britain today with the amount in October 2008 (just after the collapse of Lehman Brothers), we can see that:

Estate agencies are down by an average of 9.2%. Our data shows that the North West and Waleswere hit hardest, with numbers of estate agency offices falling far more than the national average at 15.4 %. The South East (down by 14.8%) and West Midlands (down by 11%) also suffered significant falls.




Building societies are down by 28.2%. London suffered the biggest fall, with the amount of building society offices decreasing by 46.9%. Meanwhile, the South East, Scotland and North West were also hit hard, experiencing drops of 33.8%, 33.7% and 30.1% respectively.

The number of auction houses across the UK have fallen by 14%, whilst the amount of employment agencies on the high street has shrunk by 13.4%

In comparison, one of the only types of outlet on the high street to increase in number were bookies, which opened in 280 new locations, reflecting a jump of more than 5%.

[Picture innpictime via Flickr]

How maps make it onto your TV screens

Have you seen Crimewatch recently? Or maybe you were a fan of The Bill or the crime series Luther? If you have, then you may have spotted some Ordnance Survey mapping in the background.

Our Corporate Communications team supply mapping to be used in the background of TV series, amongst other media uses. While these are usually crime-based programmes, we have also supplied mapping extracts for Time Team for example. Very often, a map is the best way to illustrate a point or clearly show what happened and where and bring a story to life.

Still of Crimewatch with OS Street View in background, courtesy of Crimewatch

A Still from Crimewatch with OS Street View in the background.

In these pictures from a Crimewatch programme and from the set of The Bill, OS Street View is being used to show where an attack took place and OS MasterMap Imagery Layer has been used to show the locations of two people’s houses. In the case of Crimewatch, this can help jog viewer’s memories about whether they were in the area and whether they may have been witnesses to some aspect of the crime.

Continue reading “How maps make it onto your TV screens”

Urban Paths plots a route to greener transport

The Urban Paths theme is the latest to be added to the OS MasterMap Integrated Transport Network (ITN) Layer. It provides digital path data for every urban area in Great Britain – a total of 58,077 kilometres – and has been designed to work with our road data to help seamlessly route people on and off roads.

This makes ITN an important tool for central government in Department for Transport’s Transport Direct travel portal, and for local government in education, health, leisure and other services.

Urban Paths coverage in Wales.

Urban Paths coverage in Wales.

For the past 3 months Urban Paths as been available through our innovation licences and over 60 customers have taken data for evaluation and development. This includes the Olympic Delivery Authority, Sheffield City Council and other central and local government customers who will be entitled to Urban Paths under our Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) from April 2011.

Some of our partners and software providers have also taken Urban Paths data and are updating their ITN ‘translation’ tools. Customers will be able to use these tools to develop systems using the ITN Road Network and Urban Paths themes – for example to develop safe walking routes for school or promoting cycle routes as an alternative to taking the car.

Urban Paths is now available for businesses to use under our recently revised Framework Contract. Have a look at the Urban Paths webpage for more information or if you want to start using Urban Paths in a product, application or web service, visit our Partner pages.

GeoVation seeks ideas to get you moving

A few months ago I wrote about the launch of this year’s GeoVation Challenge. After the success of last year’s inaugural awards, the geography focused innovation programme is back and looking to support another group of exciting, innovative and worthwhile ideas.

This year, GeoVation has been split into three separately themed challenges, the first of which was ‘How Can Britain Feed Itself?’ I say ‘was’ because it’s actually now closed to new entries, although you can still visit the site to read and rate the 52 ideas that have been contributed.

But fear not, the chance to be involved has not passed you by; for the next Challenge is due to open on Tuesday and is entirely focused on how geographic data can help us get from A to B.

Bumper to bumper. Photo by Lynac via Flikr

Bumper to bumper. Photo by Lynac via Flikr

There are huge and exciting opportunities for geography to be harnessed to solve transport related problems, especially with the influx of open data releases that we’ve seen over the past months. Those include Data.gov.uk; Ordnance Survey’s own OS OpenData portal; a number of local authorities; and most recently transport data from Transport for London.

Continue reading “GeoVation seeks ideas to get you moving”

Connecting people to places

Research conducted 10 years ago revealed that a staggering 85% of journeys within the UK were made by car. In line with Government targets to reduce road congestion and make services available online, an ambitious project to change national travel habits was born.

Road network

Road network

The result was Transport Direct, a website which knits together disparate strands of data to provide easy to use, comprehensive door-to-door travel information under the tag line ‘Connecting people to places’. Covering travel by both car and public transport around Britain, it now provides all the information needed to plan a journey, all in one place.

Continue reading “Connecting people to places”

Our new OS Insider newsletter has launched

OS Insider is a new newsletter highlighting some of things we’re currently working on at Ordnance Survey. We’ve created it to keep you informed about everything that is happening inside Great Britain’s national mapping agency.


OS Insider

OS Insider



In our first edition of OS Insider we’ve be focused on some of the innovative uses of Ordnance Survey data with OS OpenData, OS OpenSpace and the GeoVation awards programme. However, OS Insider is not just a reflection of our news – it is a forum for you to share your views. So if you have any comments or suggestions, or there is something you would like us to cover in a future issue, please do get in touch.

Read OS Insider now


You can email us now at osinsider@ordnancesurvey.co.uk or post your comments on the blog. We’ll publish all future editions on the blog too, but if you’d like to be added to our mailing list and be sure not to miss out, drop us an email.



Data centre sharing in government

I caught up with Pete James from our Information Services team recently to find out more about our Gloucester Data Centre. We’ve been starting to move our servers over to the new facility, in space leased from Land Registry, and I wondered why we were doing it and what the benefits of an off-site data centre were.

Have a listen to my chat with Pete for a behind the scenes view and if you want to find out a bit more, check out these press releases: October 2009 and March 2010