Britain’s rocks in your pocket

Did you know that geographic information (GI) plays a major role in many public services across Great Britain? Ordnance Survey provides mapping and data to over 1,700 public sector organisations in England and Wales through the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA). Keep reading to find out how some of our public sector customers have used our data to deliver their services.

The public sector sales and marketing team have had a really busy October, packed full of activities. Throughout the month, we were planning and delivering a series of free conferences for our public sector customers in England and Wales. The events give our customers an opportunity to meet Ordnance Survey representatives – and also a chance to network with their counterparts from similar organisations and share best practice. Knowledge sharing is a concept that we are keen to encourage and the events have been designed to help this interaction. We use the day to deliver key messages such as product development news and licensing information, topics of great interest to our customers.

Having attended the Swindon conference last week, it was great to put some faces to the names that we communicate with everyday, via phone and email. From a personal perspective, some of the most inspiring presentations of the day were delivered by customers including the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Dauntsey Parish Council. During their presentations, we learned how Ordnance Survey mapping and data is used to great effect in the work that they deliver for the public.

The BGS gave a presentation on their development of a free smartphone application (app) called iGeology. iGeology is an interactive, award-winning app that serves up a geological map of Britain to a viewers smartphone. The BGS have dubbed the app ‘Britain’s rocks in your pocket‘, as it teaches us all about the rocks beneath our feet. Interesting stuff indeed! So interesting in fact, that the app has received over 80,000 downloads from over 60 different countries since its launch in September 2010.

With over 1,000 unique users every day, it’s great that a range of Ordnance Survey data products help underpin iGeology. For example, both the 1:50 000 Scale Gazetteer and Code-Point products are used within the app’s search facility. These datasets enable the searching and ’zooming in’ to an area that we are all so used to on numerous apps.

iGeology also uses our backdrop mapping products, such as 1:50 000 and 1:250 000 Scale Colour Raster data sets. These topographic mapping datasets are often used to provide context to information, such as geological data in this example.

The BGS are able to see where people are requesting information. The red hotspots show the popular areas of interest, many of which are in the major conurbations and areas of geological interest, such as the Dorset coast, Isle of Arran and so on.

We also learned how Dauntsey Parish Council have been extremely proactive in the way they use GI, as they have used mapping and data for a variety of purposes. From designing their overall parish plan to encouraging parishioners to get out and enjoy some of the beautiful walks available in the countryside. They have also used our data alongside Open Source software to develop their own flood-defence plans within the parish.

From hearing about interesting web applications, to learning how GI is being used to help make important decisions at the most local of all levels, one common theme is the increasing part that Ordnance Survey data plays in such projects. We hope to tell you more about this in future blogs…

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