Visualising the City with OS OpenData – four examples with buildings from OS VectorMap District

Today’s guest blog is from Oliver O’Brien, a researcher in spatial analysis and geovisualisation at UCL CASA, working on the BODMAS (Big Open Data Mining & Synthesis) project which is led by Dr James Cheshire and funded by
ESRC. Oliver blogs regularly at about spatial analysis and visualisations of London and other research projects.

Ordnance Survey’s  open data has been incredibly useful for a number of city data visualisations. As an academic researcher, I have access to the gold-standard OS MasterMap data for teaching and research purposes here at the CASA lab at University College London. But the ease of access to OS OpenData, and the flexible and lightweight licence, means I can quickly and effectively visualise data for any purpose and audience, be it for blog posts, online maps or even artworks. Here’s four ways I’ve used one of the most interesting datasets in OS Open Data – the buildings layer in OS VectorMap District.


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Visualising customer data to provide valuable insights

In an increasingly competitive environment, customer experience is a fundamental business driver. One of the best ways to bring perspective of the customer to business decisions is by using data analysis to find correlations, isolate patterns and track trends to serve up the type of information to allow a company to tailor the customer experience for improved engagement and better profits.


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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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Using OS OpenData to map #OpFortress tweets

Today’s guest post is by Robert Murray, one of our developer team at Ordnance Survey. Last year he used OS OpenData to map some of the tweets Hampshire Constabulary sent during Operation Fortress.

Hampshire Constabulary has been running an operation to combat drug-related crime in Southampton called Operation Fortress and posted tweets relating to this operation with the hashtag #OpFortress. It was an effective method of showing progress and engaging with the public, the tweets sometimes gave advice, asked for help or reported operation updates such as arrests, raids or crimes – often with the location at which the event took place.


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OS OpenData – protecting the past to build the future

In any development project there is a legal obligation to assess and protect any significant archaeological or built heritage remains. Developers must show that such issues have been taken into account, appropriately examined and effectively mitigated, if they are to gain planning permission for proposed works.

Factoring archaeological and heritage advice and works into a project from the start can help to ensure project success. It reduces the risk of ‘hitting the unexpected’ and the ultimate cost of the project.


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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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OS OpenData interactive postcode viewer

We recently wrote about the work of our on our summer interns in our Labs team, Joseph Braybrook, creating a Minecraft map of Great Britain. During his time with us Joseph also created an interactive postcode viewer for exploring all 1.7 million postcodes in Great Britain.

The idea came from a demo program included with Processing – a programming language and development environment with a focus on creating audio/visual applications. The demo visualises 41,557 US zipcodes as individual points as shown in the screenshot below.

We decided it would be interesting to try the same approach using British postcodes, which are readily available as open data in our Code-Point Open product. This is a much larger dataset with almost 1.7 million individual records.

To further showcase what can be achieved with OS OpenData we also incorporated some of our mapping in the form of OS VectorMap District.

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Return of Ordnance Survey’s free OS OpenData masterclasses

People across Great Britain are being given the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of open data and the tools and techniques to use open datasets, through a series of free masterclasses, hosted by Ordnance Survey and supported by Horizon Digital Economy Research.

OSOpenData masterclass icon

materclass being delivered

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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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Lie of the Land

We do like to find unusual examples of maps and we loved this idea for a range of map-based jewellery. Today’s post is by Glasgow-based jewellery designer and silversmith, Clare Spencer, who uses our OS OpenData to create her map-based jewellery range, Lie of the Land.

Since moving to Scotland six years ago, I’ve been continually charmed by its natural landscape and have been looking for ways to celebrate it in my work. The first opportunity presented itself when I was asked to make a personalised pair of earrings for a client’s mother. The only stipulation was that they had a connection to Tain, her birthplace, situated on the Dornoch Firth. Looking at maps of this area, I noticed that the lines of the land and the sea had a natural rhythm. The result is a pair of earrings that together make up a section of that coastline. Tain is marked with a tiny turquoise gemstone. The recipient was delighted with such a personal gift and sent me a lovely thank you card.

Dornoch Firth earrings

Studying Ordnance Survey maps, I was intrigued by the shapes of different lochs (of which there are over 31,000 in Scotland!) and saw how their shape would work well as cuffs and rings making special gifts for those with an affinity to a particular place.

Loch Carron rings

Loch Nell cuff

It was important to me that the outlines of my jewellery were accurate and that I was able to access maps for which I had copyright permission. A search on the Ordnance Survey website revealed their open source data [OS OpenData]and a phone call to a helpful, knowledgeable staff member confirmed that I would be able to use the data for free as long as I acknowledged its source. This information is now printed on my business cards.

Clients might commission map-based jewellery for a variety of reasons –  as a gift for a lover of Scotland’s outdoors, because of a childhood connection to a place, in memory of a special holiday, as a wedding gift (incorporating the location of the ceremony) or as corporate gifts for international clients.

As well as lochs, islands have formed the basis of my requested commissions. The Isle of Skye has been very popular and I’ve been asked to make pendants, brooches and cuff links in its shape.

Skye cuff links

Skye pendant

I trade under the name Rose Madder and you can also find me on Folksy and Facebook.