Fully certified…

I am really pleased to announce that all of our OS OpenData products are now certified for their openness, through the Open Data Institute (ODI) Certification process.

The badges to show each product’s openness rating can be found on the OS OpenData ordering application.

ODICertified  Continue reading “Fully certified…”

OS OpenData masterclasses – a user’s view

SarahJeffriesOur 2013 series of masterclasses kicked off in Southampton on 7 November. We have since moved around the country with the road show and have had some great feedback along the way which will help us to make sure we continue to deliver relevant content at the right pace.

One of our attendees to the Southampton masterclass, Sarah Jeffries, the Parish Clerk Maiden Bradley with Yarnfield, had the following to say about the event:

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GeoVation winner launches Growing Routes

GeoVation winner, Richard Fairhurst, has launched a website aimed at promoting opportunities for business along the Wales Coast Path. 

The new website ‘Growing Routes’, was one of five ideas which was selected to receive funding from Ordnance Survey in the 2012 ‘Wales Coast Path’ GeoVation Challenge.

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Using OS OpenData with AditNow

It’s always great to hear how our OS OpenData is being used by people. In today’s guest post, AditNow tell us about their mining history/mine exploration hobby website which uses OS OpenData.

AditNow is a website for people with an interest in mining history and mine exploration. The site is perhaps best summed up as:

AditNow is an information sharing resource and discussion forum for the mine exploration community as well as industrial archaeologists, researchers, historians and anybody with an interest in mine exploration or mining history.

The website was started in late 2005 by two people with an interest in mining history and industrial archaeology as an online collection of photographs of the underground exploration of the abandoned and accessible slate mines of North Wales.

Map search tool showing all slate mines and quarries in N Wales

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Our top ten blogs of the year so far

We’re already more than half way through 2013, so we thought it was the perfect time to look back over the last six months and remind ourselves of the ten most popular topics on our blog so far…

10. OS Terrain 50 launched  – OS OpenData users and developers can now access a new fully maintained analytical height product called OS Terrain 50, available in grid and contour format.

9.  See the Olympic Park in 2030 – we worked with the Institute of Civil Engineers to produce a customised map of the future Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, as it will look in 2030, transforming the former site of the prestigious London 2012 Olympic Park.

8. Football fan maps – we came across this great use of Ordnance Survey maps to display an answer to a very old question – where do the supporters of different football teams actually live?

7. The Scottish National Trail – find out about the new walking route called the Scottish National Trail, the first to travel the full length of Scotland.

6. Find the best places to live in Great Britain – when we saw an article in The Times about the 30 best towns in Great Britain, it sparked our imaginations at Explorer House and we wanted to see them laid out on a map, so we used OS OpenSpace to do just that.

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Innovation to solve business problems with environmental data

Our recent GeoVation challenge resulted in four successful finalists being awarded a share of innovation funding to develop their ideas that addressed: ‘How can we help British business improve environmental performance?’

Whilst our challenge has now drawn to a close, you may be interested to learn that other funding initiatives do exist – such as the forthcoming ‘Solving business problems with environmental data’ competition, which is being launched by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), in collaboration with the Environmental Sustainability KTN.

exhibition space at event

We understand that this competition, which officially opens on 30 September 2013, aims to address many of the problems, themes and insights identified during the Environment GeoVation Pow Wow, so there are many parallels and similarities between the two initiatives. The TSB/NERC competition has allocated up to £3 million to invest in a number of business-led, collaborative feasibility studies which will establish the proof of market for environmental data-led solutions and should address a specific business issue from one of the following areas:

  • Energy
  • Transport
  • Built Environment
  • Agriculture and Food
  • Financial Services

So, when recently asked to support the TSB/NERC competition we were delighted to accept. Our support started earlier this month, when we joined several other partners and data providers for the first in a series of road shows that have been designed to enable potential applicants to understand the nature and spirit of the competition, its intentions to make data accessible, and its timescales.

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Drawing the Battle Valleys with OS OpenData

Since it’s launch in 2010, OS OpenData has proved popular to order and download, but finding user cases for OS OpenData can be tricky. The nature of the data means that it can be freely used in any application, so we’re always looking for great examples to share and encourage more people to try it out.

We are very fortunate to have a community who are prepared to share their success stories with us on their use of OS OpenData. One of these uses is by Ronald Turnbull, who used our MiniScale product to create a customised map for his book, entitled Battle Valleys, published by Frances Lincoln.

Ronald needed to create a detailed relief map of the England/Scotland border area, showing modern roads and historic battlefields, for a book endpaper. His challenge was to create attractive, detailed mapping with hill shading, using fonts and colours in keeping with the book.

Ronald Turnbull created this map using OS OpenData

Ronald used the vector version of MiniScale to be able to adapt the map to suit his needs. He turned off certain features, re-coloured relief heights and added other information such as villages and custom made symbols for battlefields and castles. Ronald was also able to change the fonts to one more suited to the context and finally added the names of the six border marches.

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Win an O’Survey football shirt in our football grounds quiz

There’s a twist to our usual ‘just for fun’ map extract quiz today as we celebrate the 2012-13 Premier League Champions. We have a 2012-13 season Manchester United football shirt personalised with O’Survey on the back to give away.

Wondering why we have an O’Survey Manchester United shirt? The club has used one of our OS OpenData products, OS VectorMap District on their website. They have released a video guide to Manchester and changed the colour of the mapping to match their kit colours. You can see the guide on their website if you are a member, or check the image below if not. As a thank you for using our data, they personalised a shirt for us – and we’d like to give it away to a football and mapping fan!

OS VectorMap District being used on the Manchester United website

All you need to do is take a look at the map extracts below, featuring our OS MasterMap products,  and tell us:

  • the eight football clubs; and
  • the link between them.

Continue reading “Win an O’Survey football shirt in our football grounds quiz”

At the BETT Show

The Education and OS OpenSpace teams were in London last week for this year’s BETT Show. In excess of 20,000 visitors descended on Olympia to discover the latest uses of technology for teaching and education.


At the BETT Show

We were there to demonstrate a number of educational mapping tools. Centre stage was Digimap for Schools, the web service that provides access to Ordnance Survey mapping for every classroom in the country. There was also a lot of interest in OS OpenSpace, with its Web-Map Builder, and all the freely available mapping data that is now downloadable from OS OpenData.

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Wessex Archaeology – mapping the past

You might have read my blog on Wessex Archaeology’s finds at our new head office, describing the Bronze Age Farm that was once on our Southampton site…while chatting with the team, based on the outskirts of Salisbury, I discovered just how much they rely on our data, both on paper and in numerous electronic formats. Talking to Paul Cripps, Geomatics Manager at Wessex Archaeology (WA), I discover that their mapping interests run from historic mapping to OS OpenData and a whole range in between.


Much of WA’s work is spatial, finding out how things relate to each other. From historic buildings to excavations to the marine environment, mapping is fundamental to everything WA do. But they don’t just use it as a backdrop, they add information about their excavations and finds too and attach that to their mapping. I was surprised to find that the historic mapping is not only needed to understand change through time but to ensure the accurate interpretation of aerial photography amongst other things; it is not always easy to work out what is shown in an aerial photograph alone and the feature may not be shown on more modern maps, a second world war bunker on a disused airfield can look very similar to a Roman fort from the air!





Paul explained to me how surveying techniques have changed over the years, “OS Net changed the way WA worked. We’ve gone from using measuring tapes to mark out the locations of digs, to using total stations (tied in to trig points) to using differential GPS units (which had to be set up 4-5 hours before work could start). SmartNet uses the mobile phone network and it only takes 5-10 minutes for us to start surveying and we capture 95% of all work with our Leica SmartNet devices. We still use total stations to survey areas where 3D recording is needed, such as buildings and structures, skeletons in graves and so on, but trenches and all basic features can be accurately captured using SmartNet.


“A lot of people wonder what we’re recording all the time, but initial digging on a site only covers a percentage of the area and you need to accurately map these locations. Basic info can be added onto the GPS unit as you work, then we process it in AutoCad or ArcGIS, attach our full database records to the surveyed features, add modern and historic mapping and have all the information we need in one spatial environment.”


WA have six SmartNet systems and want to invest in more as being able to do everything on site makes life much faster and efficient. Rather than a survey team driving around the country and setting surveys up, now the GPS systems are so simple that archaeologists can do the majority of work themselves after some basic training. This leaves WA’s survey specialists to work on training and standards (and still do some surveying too!).


There are some great examples of WA surveying on their website and loads more pictures of them in action on Flickr too.

Images produced by kind permission of Wessex Archaeology showing range of surveying techniques. More information can be found on Flickr.