Linked data


Eight new things from Ordnance Survey in 2013

We’ve had a busy 2013 so far and there have been a number of new Ordnance Survey products and services released. We thought we’d give you a round-up of our eight  great new and updated products and services of 2013 so far.

OS MapFinder for iOS devices

Our OS MapFinder app for iOS devices launched in January, providing a free-to-download navigation app for walkers, cyclists and more. With over 120,000 downloads of the app in three months, it’s proved very popular and thousands more have downloaded map tiles for the areas they want to explore. We’re currently working on an Android version of the app and we’ll let you know when that’s available. In the meantime, find out more about OS MapFinder for iOS.

Building on the success of OS MapFinder, we recently launched the OS OpenSpace SDK for iOS. Through the new software development kit (SDK), developers can quickly and easily add detailed Ordnance Survey maps to their applications on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The powerful and fast SDK provides a number of significant benefits for both the developer and the end users, including quick rendering and offline mapping, meaning that apps can still function even without a mobile signal. Get started on our website.

Continuing the open theme, we released OS Terrain 50 in April, adding to our OS OpenData product portfolio. Users and developers can now access a new fully maintained analytical height product called OS Terrain 50, available in grid and contour format. You can view and download the product on our website.

In June OS Terrain 5 joined our new height portfolio. Offering maintained national coverage and available in both grid and contour formats, OS Terrain 5 depicts the shape of Great Britain’s landscape. Presented as a Digital Terrain Model (DTM), OS Terrain 5 adds the third dimension to analytical applications such as flood risk assessment and infrastructure development.

We launch the next iteration of our Linked Data service in June at: http://data.ordnancesurvey.co.uk. The improved service is easy to use and access, adhering to new standards and making the data more open.

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Building the links…

Since the launch of our improved Linked Data platform at the beginning of last month, we have seen a continued increase in the number of visits, with London the most visited area.

We have been investigating who has been linking to our data and have found an app linking Boundary-Line, a range of census 2011 sources and neighbourhood information on deprivation and well-being from Open Data Communities.

This application has been built by an experienced developer and involves linking many different datasets. So to help those of you who are just starting out using Linked Data, we asked our development team to create an application linking just two different data sources.  They have linked our data with Land Registry Linked Data to look up the prices paid for houses in a postcode and display the area on a map. This is a very basic application, but is an ideal start point for anyone wanting to have a go at linking data themselves.

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New Linked Data service launches

We are delighted to launch the next iteration of our Linked Data service today at: http://data.ordnancesurvey.co.uk.

In preparation for this launch we created a beta version, which was designed for you to have a play around, test, and review against your current applications.

We had over 2,000 people test the beta version, thank you for your helpful feedback.

We launched Linked Data in April 2010 as part of the drive to increase innovation and support the “Making Public Data Public” initiative and have seen a continued growth of the use in government and research. This has allowed us to develop a deeper understanding of the use of Linked Data, which we have used to develop an improved service, it’s easy to use and access adhering to new standards making the data more open.

In summary, the improvements we have made are:

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Launching a new Linked Data service

We’ll soon be launching the next iteration of our Linked Data Service at http://data.ordnancesurvey.co.uk. In preparation we have created a beta version (http://beta.data.ordnancesurvey.co.uk) which has been designed for you to have a play around, test and review against your current applications.

We launched Linked Data in April 2010 and have seen a continued growth of the use in government and research. This has allowed us to develop a deeper understanding of the use of Linked Data, which we have used to develop an improved service, it’s easy to use and access adhering to new standards making the data more open.

In summary, the improvements we have made are:

  • Developed a data hub that provides access to all our Linked Data datasets, with integrated search to enable anyone to easily locate resources of interest.
  • Embedded OS OpenSpace maps to show the geographic location chosen.
  • Separate datasets, which will allow you to narrow down your searches. For example, if you are looking for postcode information, you can query just the Code-Point Open Linked dataset.
  • Improved metadata for each dataset such as publication dates, licensing terms and coverage.
  • SPARQL 1.1 compliant endpoints for all datasets, which provide more functionality for querying our Linked Data.
  • Redesigned search API based on the OpenSearch specification and with support for geography based queries.
  • Support for the Open Refine Reconciliation API, which will allow you to more easily link your data with ours.
  • All new API documentation and interactive tools for all API’s, including integrated example resources and queries.

If you are using our current Linked Data service, we would really appreciate if you could take a look at the beta service and test against your current applications. If you have any feedback, please contact the Linked Data team by sending an email to linkeddatawebsite@ordnancesurvey.co.uk

If Linked Data is new to you and you want to find out more, data.gov.uk provides overviews, videos and examples of other government departments Linked datasets.


Linked Data at Ordnance Survey

In the early 1990s there began to emerge a new way of using the internet to link documents together. It was called the World Wide Web. What the Web did that was fundamentally new was that it enabled people to publish documents on the internet and link them such that you could navigate from one document to another.

Part of Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s original vision of the Web was that it should also be used to publish, share and link data. This aspect of Sir Tim’s original vision has gained a lot of momentum over the last few years and has seen the emergence of the Linked Data Web.

The Linked Data Web is not just about connecting datasets, but about linking information at the level of a single statement or fact. The idea behind the Linked Data Web is to use URIs (these are like the URLs you type into your browser when going to a particular website) to identify things such as people, places and organisations, and to then use web technology to provide some meaningful and useful information when those URIs are looked up.

Linked Data

Linked Data

Ordnance Survey’s Research Department, which is where I work, has been interested in Linked Data for quite some time, and the release of OS OpenData means that the fruits of these labours can now be realised, providing Ordnance Survey with an opportunity to make a major new contribution to the Linked Data Web.

As a first toe in the water we decided to produce a gazetteer of the administrative regions of Great Britain. Each region is given a unique identifier in the form of a URI and described in terms of its name and the spatial relationships it has to other regions.

So, for example, if you look up The City of Southampton (identified by this URI) you’ll find a list of all the wards contained in Southampton along with the counties and unitary authorities that Southampton is adjacent to.

Last week saw another milestone release when we published URIs for every postcode in the country and linked these to URIs for the administrative regions. The URI for our head office postcode (SO16 4GU) is:


Looking this up you’ll see that Ordnance Survey is based in the ward of ‘Redbridge’ and also ‘The City of Southampton’.

This offers great potential to data publishers. By linking to identifiers for places and postcodes in your data you can enrich the information you hold.

Imagine you have a list of schools and their postcodes. By connecting to the URIs for those postcodes you have a whole new way to view and analyse your data. Through the link to the postcode you now know the ward, district and county those schools are in. This is a very simple example of how merging two sets of linked data can deliver benefits.

We are already seeing quality linked data being published elsewhere, notably from the likes of the BBC and data.gov.uk to name two.

As more data is published the opportunity to create interesting applications based on combinations of these datasets grows. We suspect location will create a key information hub for many of these and applications…imagine the possibilities!

If you’re interested in Linked Data and want to find out what you can do with it, there is more information on my blog.