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Map sales

Request for information – FOI14628


Thank you for your email of 19 January 2016, phrased as a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000 as follows:

1. Has there been a significant decrease in paper map sales in the past 10 years?
2. How has your company adapted to the ‘Google maps’ take over?
3. In your opinion have map skills in young people of today?

Our response

The Freedom of Information Act is to make provision for the disclosure of information which is held in a recorded format by an organisation, and not as a mechanism to provide a response to specific questions – unless that information is already held by the authority in a recorded format.

However, even though this is not technically a Freedom of Information request under our duty to provide advice and assistance as stipulated in Section 16 of the FOIA, we can provide the following explanations to each of your questions in turn.

1. There has been a steady rather than significant decline in paper map sales over the past 10 years although 2014 saw growth on the previous year with the upturn continuing in 2015. Please view this PDF file of sales.

OS believes the key factors behind the recent growth to be:

  • Improved in-store presence, particularly with outdoor retail specialists.
  • Raising the profile of Ordnance Survey as part of a brand refresh programme.
  • External factors such as more people holidaying in the UK/engaging in outdoor leisure activities.
  • Halo effect of developing and marketing digital consumer propositions which are complementary to our paper map products.

2. OS does not see Google as competition and believes that Ordnance Survey offers consumers a very different proposition.

Our focus in the consumer market is to make outdoor activity more enjoyable, accessible and safe and to help people become more active.

3. OS is very keen to promote map reading skills to young people and developed Digimap for Schools which provides web-based access to Ordnance Survey maps of Great Britain to subscribing schools.

Digimap for Schools is provided by EDINA at the University of Edinburgh who is also responsible for the Digimap service for Higher and Further Education. The service set up in late 2010 and is self-funding through school subscriptions. In April 2011 the service was given a GOLD award by the Geographical Association.

Ordnance Survey’s Education Team work closely with EDINA to enhance the service in line with teachers’ feedback. This has led to the creation of a suite of teaching resources and GIS style annotation tools.

I hope the above is of use to you.

Internal review

Your enquiry has been processed according to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000. If you are unhappy with our response, you may request an internal review with our FOI Internal Review Officer, by contacting them as follows:

FOI Internal Review Officer
Customer Service Centre
Ordnance Survey
Adanac Drive
SO16 0AS

Email: foi@os.uk

Please include the reference number above. You may request an internal review where you believe Ordnance Survey has:

  • Failed to respond to your request within the time limits (normally 20 working days)
  • Failed to tell you whether or not we hold the information
  • Failed to provide the information you have requested
  • Failed to explain the reasons for refusing a request
  • Failed to correctly apply an exemption or exception

The FOI Internal Review Officer will not have been involved in the original decision. They will conduct an independent internal review and will inform you of the outcome of the review normally within 20 working days, but exceptionally within 40 working days, in line with the Information Commissioner’s guidance.

The FOI Internal Review Officer will either: uphold the original decision, provide an additional explanation of the exemption/s applied or release further information, if it is considered appropriate to do so.

Appeal to Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
If, following the outcome of the internal review you remain unhappy with our response, you may raise an appeal with the Information Commissioner’s Office at:

The Case Reception Unit
Customer Service Team
The Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane

Email: mail@ico.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone helpline: 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745 for advice, Monday to Friday.

Thank you for your enquiry.

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