Meet the team: Nicole Frith

Continuing our series to introduce you to the individuals within OS and share the variety of work we do, meet Nicole Frith. As an Associate Data Management Specialist, here she gives us a glimpse into her varied role…

How long have you worked for OS?

I’ve worked at OS for just over 3 years now. I joined the OS Graduate Scheme in September 2016 and have since worked in a wide range of roles and teams across the business. Whilst on the graduate scheme, I visited remote sensing services, cartography, field production and spent time in the customer service centre, market insight, consultancy and technical services and product strategy and management. In September 2018, I started working in the data office and have been there ever since! 

How long have you been in your current role? 

It was about six months ago I moved to the Data Management and Requirements Team as an Associate Data Management Specialist.  

Can you describe your working day?

I’ll do my best but one of things I enjoy most about my job is its day-to-day variety, so no two days look alike. Aside from the obvious, such as emails and meetings, some days are filled with investigating any number of changes we might want to make to our data in the future, and working with our operations and customer-facing teams to make these happen. Other days I might be visiting our customers to understand how they use our data so that we can continue to provide them with data that meets their needs.  

What are you working on right now?

At the moment I’m investigating how we need to change or modify our data to make it ready to move to a new database we are building. I’ve also recently started working on a project working with other government bodies on behalf of the Geospatial Commission to help unlock the economic benefits of geospatial data. My focus on this project is on understanding what makes a dataset trustworthy so that people know they can rely on it.

What is your favourite part of your job? 

It’s hard to pick just one favourite, but if I had to, I’d have to say my team. Both the data management and requirements team, and the wider data office as a whole, are so supportive and knowledgeable and it’s great to work with and learn from such great people.  

What is your OS highlight?

A few spring to mind… The first would have to be the Cambridge Conference in 2017. As part of my graduate development, I was heavily involved in the preparation and running of the event, which brought together a great team from across the business. Seeing the hard work everyone put in both before and during the conference to deliver such a successful event was really fulfilling.  

Another would have to be National Fitness Day. One of the many great things about working for OS is the amazing opportunities we have to get outside and be active. National Fitness Day was such a special day to be part of – the sense of community, enjoyment (and competition!) was just fantastic!

What are you excited to work on (or continue working on) in the future?

As I’m relatively new into my current role, I’m not quite sure what the future holds just yet, but I’d like to get involved with some of the work defining what new or different data we need to capture and deliver to our government customers in the future 

Whatever’s next, I’m looking forward to developing my data management knowledge and skills and working with both our customers and the business to deliver data fit for their needs.

Find out more about career opportunities at OS on our website.


We worked with TfL to help reduce vehicles striking bridges in London

We’ve all seen the photos of oversized vehicles, from HGVs to double-decker buses, who have struck low bridges and often caused traffic chaos in the surrounding areas. These strikes often happen multiple times in the same locations, despite signage noting the heights. To tackle this challenge, we’ve been working with TfL help reduce unnecessary traffic disruption from vehicles striking bridges across London. Yesterday, a free-to-use dataset to help combat bridge strikes was released by TfL. It will give freight and fleet operators access to detailed height restrictions on bridges and tunnels across the capital.

The height data was extracted from our detailed road network dataset, OS MasterMap Highways Network, with TfL manually including additional information to our data. We then worked with TfL through our Presumption to Publish process, available to all our Public Sector customers, to release the new dataset. Permission to release the data was obtained through our Presumption to Publish process, which is available to all our Public Sector customers.

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How we use 3D height data at OS

Guest blog by OS Surveyor Lee Harvey.

Imagine you’re buying a new house and are worried about the risk of flooding. Or you’re installing a mobile network, such as 5G, and want to know where to place transmitters. You’ll need to know the shape of the ground, buildings blocking line of sight, where will water flow, and a host of other things. OS create a set of 3D height products as well as our 2D maps and data.

Remote Sensing at OS is a big thing. The team spends Spring and Summer (when the weather is better… apparently!) flying up and down Great Britain capturing aerial imagery. These images are used to update our maps quickly and efficiently at head office in Southampton. By taking many overlapping images and using some air triangulation software (that’s the maths of measuring angles from the air), we match these images to their real-world location and work out the height of features on the ground. The software takes these height points and constructs a Digital Surface Model (DSM), which also forms the basis of our orthorectified imagery (a top-down perspective, map-like image). The DSM data includes buildings, trees, bridges and anything which exists at the time the photos are taken. A video game is a good example, as you move your character through any 3D environment, the hard surface that the game graphics display, will be draped over a DSM (although it’s called a Mesh in the 3D graphics industry, the fundamentals are the same). To complement this surface, and to allow lots of clever analysis of the real world, we also create a Digital Terrain Model (DTM). Read More


London’s most popular walks this year revealed by OS Map users

Thousands of subscribers to OS Maps have been out in force wandering the streets of London over the summer months – providing some revealing insights for us here at OS.

So many of you have poured out of tube stations, alighted from buses and spilled out of car parks to get outside and enjoy the majesty, wonder and gorgeous green space of London.

Thousands of journeys have been unselfishly logged, recorded and shared as routes in the phone and web app, whether that be cycle routes, gentle strolls or epic walks. And the data has thrown up some interesting results.

The number one place to start a walk in London this year – and end it – was Richmond station.

Top ten places in London where people start a route

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Trialling OS Open Greenspace on Living Atlas

Back in July, we announced the addition of OS Open Greenspace to Esri’s ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. We added this dataset to test how the data is received and to gather feedback from users who access it via Living Atlas. 

This decision is part of a trial which will enable us to understand if this integration has made it easier for users to optimise the value of OS data and if it solved any previous barriers. Ultimately, we want to know if it’s of value to our existing users and whether it encouraged new users of open geospatial data. 

If you’ve tried it and not let us know your thoughts, please fill out our survey. If you haven’t got involved yet, read on to learn more or check out the data now.

What is OS Open Greenspace?

In short, it is a dataset that shows every publicly accessible recreational and leisure greenspace in Great Britain and is of huge interest for analysis and as a means of promoting the benefits of getting outside.  Read More


Green Health Strategy

On 28 June 2019, NHS Lothian, Edinburgh & Lothian’s Health Foundation and greenspace scotland published Scotland’s first health board-led Green Health Strategy.

What is the Green Health Strategy?

The Green Health Strategy aims to fully realise the potential of the NHS outdoor estate and community greenspaces as a community health asset benefiting patients, visitors, staff and communities. It covers a range of Green Health activities as well as greening the NHS outdoor estate and encouraging access to greenspace close to where people live – find out more. Read More


Mapping for Emergencies – Toddbrook Reservoir

On 1 August 2019, a major incident was declared at Toddbrook Reservoir in Derbyshire. Several days of heavy rain had resulted in high volumes of water flowing over the spillway, partially dislodging concrete slabs.

Spillways are structures that either form part of a dam, or are found just beside one. They are used, when a reservoir is full, to pass floodwater safely, and in a controlled way, over a dam, around it or through it.

OS aerial imagery of Whaley Bridge.

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