Mapping out our history with OS OpenData

Recently we told you about the new OS OpenData Award that we’re providing to the British Cartographic Society, offering you the chance to win an Apple iPad.  Today we bring you a guest blog from one of our Cartographic Designers, Charley Glynn, who has used one of our freely available products to map all five of our head offices from 1791 to the present day:

As cartographic designers,my team and I get a lot of opportunity to design and develop topographic maps.  We’re very familiar with making leisure maps and creating custom styles for contextual maps which is why we are particularly excited when we get the opportunity to submit work into map galleries.  They give us the chance to build on our own map ideas, exercise our creativity and try out new tools and techniques. One such gallery is being hosted at the FOSS4G 2013 conference, the global conference for free and open source software for geospatial use, organised by the Open Source Geospatial Foundation.  With that and our new BCS OS OpenData Award in mind I decided to take this opportunity to create something different from my ‘norm’.

All things open

I used one of our range of OS OpenData products and took the chance to do some cartographic design using Quantum GIS (QGIS), an open source geographic information system (GIS).

On the outside wall of our head office in Southampton we have a large graphic which lists all five of our head offices since the organisation was set up in 1791.  It was whilst walking past this during my lunchtime walk that I was inspired to map the locations; mapping the geographical history of Great Britain’s national mapping agency seemed like a great idea, and after a bit of research I was surprised that it hadn’t been done before (at least I couldn’t find one on the web!).

I combined this with two other rather abstract ideas that I had been pondering for some time; one was to have maps in circles and the other was to have a dark background with vibrant, almost neon colours to highlight the foreground information.

The product that I chose to use for the mapping was OS VectorMap District – it’s a mid-scale product with building footprints and the vector format allowed me to customise the styling and apply the dark tones that I was after.  For the exact locations I donned my scarf and coat and referred back to the large graphic outside of work which contains the grid references (eg SU373155).  Although not all the buildings remain in the same form as when occupied by us (for example parts of the London Road offices in Southampton were caught in the blitz in 1941) the dataset contains a building footprint at each location.

I chose a palette of 5 vibrant colours that I thought work well as a set and are unique enough to be easily distinguished and applied one to each head office.  I then used Adobe Illustrator to create the layout and add additional information, including the title and overview map which I created from Strategi that I exported from QGIS.

Please take a look at the map on our pdf.

I hope you like the map and I hope it can inspire you to download some free data, get creative and enter our award.  If you do you could win an Apple iPad!

If you would like more information about the processes I used to create this map or our cartographic design team in general then please feel free to email OSCarto@ordnancesurvey.co.uk

You may also like

Mapping a personal journey with OS OpenData
When real world mapping meets Tolkien
Introducing our OS Data Hub
Britain’s most complex motorway junctions 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name* :

Email* :