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Britain leads the way as Ordnance Survey helps to drive economic growth and digital innovation through open data

21 February 2015

To coincide with International Open Data Day, when countries across the globe will show their support for open data policies, Ordnance Survey (OS) announce plans to launch a world-leading digital map as open data and the creation of an engagement hub in London.

This consolidates the UK’s reputation as the most advanced country in the world on open data, as recognised by World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee last month. It will generate opportunities for enterprise, drive innovation in the digital economy, increase demand for new apps and services and help data-driven businesses to grow.

OS OpenMap, which will be released at the end of March, has been designed to work with the latest mobile and web platforms and will allow developers to build new products incorporating some of the most sophisticated mapping data in the world. It will also enhance the wide range of existing apps that use geospatial data. Targeted at both public sector and commercial users, the map provides an enhanced level of building detail, extended naming of roads and identifies sites such as hospitals and schools – all in a customisable and easy to style format.

Today’s announcements from OS are underpinned by a more liberalised approach to licensing designed to maximise the benefits of the UK’s most valuable data.

This weekend OS will support the UK’s first ever Open Data Camp in Hampshire. Two hundred developers, innovators and entrepreneurs will have a first chance to trial some of the new data to create fresh insights and innovative products and services.

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills said:
“Access to open data will open up job opportunities. Britain is already a world-leader at designing and making innovative products. But we need to keep investing and supporting our technology businesses to stay ahead.

“Making this data more accessible means more small and medium companies will be able to use Ordnance Survey’s world-leading maps, combining geographical data from multiple sources and visualising them at a high level of detail.

I am sure this will inspire a number of companies to create sophisticated new products.”

The Geospatial Innovation Hub will provide a space for OS to meet face-to-face with developers and to support the creation of new products and services. The Hub builds on OS’s experience of working with start-ups through their successful GeoVation programme, allowing developers to benefit from expert OS advice.

Matthew Hancock, Business Minister at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, said:
“Ordnance Survey has world-beating data and its expertise means that the UK has access to the best and most comprehensive mapping data in the world. I announced earlier this year that Ordnance Survey would move to a Government Company to ensure that it could operate in an increasingly agile and flexible manner in the fast changing geospatial market, and today’s announcement goes hand in hand with that change.

“Ordnance Survey data is already being used by a range of businesses and these developments will enable its open data, as well as its commercial activity, to continue to support growth and innovation in this country.”

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:
"As part of this Government's long-term plan for the economy, we are driving an ambitious transparency programme. Open data is a new raw material and today's Ordnance Survey announcement builds on the progress which has seen us recognised as the world's most transparent government. Transparency is an idea whose time has come and we must keep challenging ourselves to do more."

Neil Ackroyd, Ordnance Survey’s Acting Director General and Chief Executive, said:
“Over the last five years Ordnance Survey has been committed to supporting the open data programme in a sustainable way. I am confident these new open data developments will be welcomed across the public and private sector and that it may inspire a new wave of developers and entrepreneurs to work with OS data.

We are delighted to be releasing a new range of open data products, and I am particularly keen to see the new street level product being used across mobile and online services and applications, as it provides an unmatched level of detail at the national level. At Ordnance Survey we believe that open data releases are best supported by additional resources and we have explored ways to improve and modify our licences and provide supporting initiatives to aid further innovation.”

The announcement today includes:

A significant enhancement to Ordnance Survey’s portfolio of Open Data products:

  • OS OpenMap – a new ‘street level’ vector dataset designed to be the most detailed open data mapping product available, providing a backdrop for integrating and visualising analytical data. The new product will provide an enhanced level of detail for buildings including the specific identification of functional sites such as hospitals and schools, extended naming of roads and an extensive set of cartographic names optimised for digital styling and presentation.
  • A new Open Water Network – a generalised network product covering Great Britain’s rivers which will deliver a national view of our watercourses.
  • A new and improved Gazetteer – for use by people who need the most up to date place names, road names, road numbers and postcodes for use in location searches for both mobile and online uses.
  • Supporting the release of UPRNs: www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/about/news/2015/uprn-release-sharing-location-data.html

Enhanced support for developers and innovators:

Today’s announcement also builds on statements earlier this week from Ordnance Survey around how it would be making it easier, and more effective, for public sector users of OS data to publish their own open data.


Notes to editors

For more information on OS OpenMap products: os.uk/openmap

For more information on the Innovation Hub: os.uk/hub

Contact us

For more information:

Contact: Rob Andrews, Head of Corporate Communications

Email: robert.andrews@os.uk

Phone: (+44) 023­ 8005 5565

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