Analysing urban green spaces with ONS

By Andrew Cooling and Steve Kingston, OS

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), have begun the delivery of a Great Britain-wide natural capital accounting project, gathering insights on urban green spaces and their effect on our social and economic well-being. We’ve been working with ONS on the project, along with Defra, with our GI Consultant Steve Kingston being seconded to the ONS team to provide geospatial analytical support.

The project started with a pilot in the Greater Manchester area, which delivered at the end of 2017. The pilot helped shape the methodology to deliver two parts of the urban ecosystem accounts, estimates of the extent of green space and blue space in urban areas and estimates of the services provided by this nature, such as filtering air pollution and recreational opportunity.

The urban accounts offer a coherent way of looking at the value of green space in urban areas across Britain. The project aims to help both the private and public sectors to value and monitor the extent and condition of nature in the urban environment and recognise the services it provided. The accounts will aid policy makers in prioritising investment and making informed decisions.

Illustrating the methodology used to model one of the environmental property price-influencing factors, the nearest publicly accessible green space site for recreation to a residential property

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Annotations: adding narrative to your maps

What is an annotation?


“a note by way of explanation or comment added to a text or diagram.”
Synonyms: notation, comment, footnote; commentary, explanation.

Sometimes referred to as data labels or captions, annotations are often added to charts to add an extra layer of useful information for the reader. Think of it like using a highlighter on a block of written text. We can purposefully guide our readers to view certain aspects of the data that are important.

Why are they so useful?

Annotations can help:

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See historic photos from Ordnance Survey on Timepix

The Timepix historic photo site launches today and makes a unique set of photos from OS’ history available online for the first time. Over 21,000 photos catalogue the Manchester streets between the 1940s and 1960s, giving a unique insight into the city’s past captured by OS surveyors. From children and animals photobombing the surveyors, to a background of vintage adverts, Timepix showcases a fascinating collection of photos around Greater Manchester.

Why were OS surveyors photographing Manchester?

OS surveyors took revision point (RP) photos across Britain to provide a network of surveyed locations. These known spots could then be used to ‘control’ the position of detail on a large scale map. RPs were often on corners of buildings and other immovable features, and were fixed to centimetre accuracy. Finding the RPs for future map updates was an issue, and photography quickly became the best visual reference – leading to thousands of photos of men with white arrows… Read More


Why retailers need quality addressing data

Guest blog by Egbe Manners, GI Consultant

One of my colleagues loves online shopping, so, when she moved to a new flat and her favourite home delivery services couldn’t find her address, she was frustrated. Increasingly having a successful delivery to her flat is becoming a differentiator to which online retailer she chooses. Is she expecting too much from online retailers?

Luckily, working at Ordnance Survey (OS), I know a bit about address data. I understand some of the challenges facing retailers to keep customer address data updated. It takes time, investment, and effort to maintain their mailing lists. However, it is worth the effort.

Having access to over 29.6 million addresses in Postal Address File (PAF) from Royal Mail, is a good starting point. However, finding those households within a building that has been divided could prove trickier. But this is made easier with the 12 million additional addresses that OS source from Britain’s local authorities.  Read More


OS reports recommend the creation of a Digital Twin for a successful rollout of 5G

3D viewshed analysis of Bournemouth used in 5G project

While the world enjoyed the action at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, we were just as interested in what was happening away from the ice and snow. Namely the first large-scale 5G pilot service.

For critics it served as a marketing ploy for KT Group, South Korea’s largest telecom, who promoted the event as the first “5G Olympic Games in the world.

For us though, the games with its driverless buses, immersive broadcasting, 360-degree instant replays and zooming, as well as the opening ceremony’s spectacular 5G-enabled peace dove, the trial seemed like a fun way of introducing the next generation of wireless communications to a wider audience.

However, the surface has yet to be scratched on what 5G can truly deliver to help improve our lives. It’s very much in its infancy, but already we see how more and more devices are increasing their worth to us with services that require reliable Internet connectivity. Even the humble doorbell has received a tech makeover. You can now see and speak to whoever is at your door, no matter where you are on the planet. Imagine one day a surgeon in one area of the country performing vital surgery somewhere else through a 5G-enabled robot. 5G will help the Internet cope with this increase in demand.

In 1899, the Head of the US Patents Office, Charles H. Duell, famously declared: “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

Then came the 20th century, the age of mass invention. Nearly 120 years on and, in this context, you sense that 5G is the start of something extraordinary. With some even stating it will: enable the future – accelerating innovation and growing the economy. Exciting stuff for everyone, you’d think. But it’s not that Mr Duell was wrong in 1899, though he was, he just demonstrates how fallible we all are when it comes to imagining the future.

If Mr Duell, a man surrounded by invention and America’s brightest minds couldn’t see computers, microchips, moon rockets and the Internet coming – to name just a few of the 20th century’s stunning breakthroughs that would have bent his head – then what chance do the rest of us have in explaining what the 5G future will be or look like? Except to say: It’s what you make it.

5G and OS

One thing that we know with certainty, and we write about this in two government-funded reports published today, is that the most cost effective and simplest way for the UK to adopt 5G is through the creation of a ‘Digital Twin’. Read More


8 tips for map critique

Critique is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a detailed analysis and assessment of something and in 2010 Judith Tyner released the book Principles of Map Design and included the diagram on the right, defining the map making process.

Map critique plays an important role in the design process and this is for a number of reasons:

  • Feedback will improve your map – If you always think you’re right, how do you know for sure your map is actually any good and doing what it is intended? ​
  • It allows you to analyse the way you work – Constructive criticism can lead you away from bad practices and towards good ones. Mistakes​ can be spotted and you can learn from them​.
  • It can give you an advantage​ – Criticism can be information that perhaps no one else has, making your map a better one. This is valuable information and give you an edge amongst your competitors.

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Why you need an address master data management strategy

A short while ago, my wife received two seemingly identical catalogues in the post from a well-known online fashion retailer. Both were addressed to our home, but the catalogues differed in two respects. Firstly, one was labelled using her maiden name, whilst the other used her married surname. The second difference was more interesting. The first catalogue promised a 30% reduction on all purchases as a loyal customer reward. The second catalogue promised a 20% reduction. This told me two important things: (1) my wife spends more with this retailer since we married; (2) the retailer in question has no master data management (MDM) strategy for addresses.

MDM refers to everything an organisation does to manage their critical data, the goal being to provide a single version of the truth. Let’s explore why MDM is necessary for addresses. Read More

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