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What we do

Learn about our work at Ordnance Survey.

Location data has the power to create new and exciting opportunities as we move towards a connected digital society.

We use our valuable data and expertise, built on over 225 years of experience, to contribute to the future success of Britain and other nations.

We continually refine our data to present an accurate digital view, delivering to business and the public sector. We facilitate important decisions that will go onto enhance the quality of life of future generations.

Mapping the nation

High-volume changes to our database are delivered by remote sensing. This involves an intensive programme of capturing changes with aerial photography from our Flying Unit and external suppliers. The resulting high-definition images are overlaid with existing map data on screen, to check where features have changed. Instant updates can then be identified and made to our data.

Remote sensing also allows highly-accurate mapping in areas which are difficult to access and gives the capability to efficiently collect data over large areas.

In addition, our 230 surveyors collect precise location information using specialised equipment and OS Net, our national network of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) base stations. This underpins the most detailed and frequently updated mapping in the world.

These updates to the master database enable us to create a range of consistent and up-to-date data products of Great Britain, including our most detailed digital map OS MasterMap with its Topography Layer; high-resolution digital imagery; 3D models of the terrain and elevation features; road and water networks.

We’re also exploring new ways to capture even more detailed features in the landscape, particularly at street level, such as lamp posts and bus stops, to support smarter communities.

This includes vehicle-based surveying on the ground, using unmanned aerial vehicles, and high altitude pseudo satellites. We will also continue to collaborate with third-party data suppliers.

Location data is driving growth across all business sectors. We believe it will be the fuel to power the digital economy of the future. Right now, energy, utility, property, retail and finance companies are turning to our data to enable efficiencies in the services they provide their customers.

We help keep transport flowing, ensure online shopping gets delivered to the door, and underpin every property sale in Great Britain.

Our role in supporting industrial growth is increasing. The nation’s largest infrastructure projects are being built using precise and trusted OS data. Planners for HS2 and Crossrail use our data because it can be relied on for its accuracy.

With our Partners, we’re pioneering innovations to support industry, and find smarter ways to solve complex problems, worldwide.

Business sectors

In communities across Great Britain, our work enables a safe, healthy and prosperous society. Our data is used by more than 5,000 organisations working for the public good in areas such as housing, the natural environment, connected transport and national security.

Our data is trusted to support policy and the delivery of public services at every level of government. From the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, where we provide essential location data that helps monitor the development of new housing, to emergency services, where our data is used to better coordinate planning for and responding to unexpected events.

The government’s Industrial and Digital strategies recognise the importance of location data for our future economy. The Geospatial Commission supports OS, among others, to focus on where geography and spatial data can make a real difference in tackling the key government and citizen challenges.

By working with partners across government, we’re helping to put ‘place’ at the heart of the UK’s connected economy of the future.

Supporting government

We’re working with countries all over the world. We use our expertise and capability to support sustainable development and deliver efficient public services – improving quality of life for millions of people.

We offer advisory services, working with organisations, governments and other national mapping agencies to improve policy making and increase geospatial capabilities. We show how Great Britain’s public bodies are using the same approach to geospatial data and standards to save millions of pounds per year; reduce carbon emissions; make the best possible evidence-based decisions; and deliver effective public services and plan new developments.

International work