Making the most of OS OpenData

Last month marked the seven year anniversary of OS OpenData. We have recently shared insights into how our open products are made and how they are being used. In this post we would like to share some of the other activities we undertake to support our open data and support the community of users, including those involved with free and open source software.

The take-up and effective use of our datasets are fundamental to their success. With this in mind we have produced various resources that lower the barrier to entry and make use easier. We also support the community of users in various ways, from sponsorship of events and awards to the release of assets and resources to lower the barriers of entry.


If you are using, or planning to use OS OpenData then you can find help and support here. There are frequently asked questions and a forum for posting questions and keeping up to date with the latest announcements.

Over the years we have run many hands-on workshops to help people get to grips with using our datasets, from beginner to the more advanced. In addition to this we have also made some resources available on our website. If you want help getting started with OS OpenData and customising the styling of the vector then this page will be useful. You can download the required data and the workbooks which take you step-by-step through the process, from loading data to exporting maps.

Our GeoDataViz team create cartographic stylesheets that are freely available. These are files that contain all the styling information to quickly and easily convert raw geographic data into a familiar and usable map. You can download them from our website where you will also find a useful guide, or you can access them on Github. Our Github page also contains code examples and demos for developers.

Community support

As well as providing help to use our datasets, we have also offered the open source community support through different means of sponsorship and support. Our technical staff including GI consultants and cartographic designers have presented and hosted workshops/hackathons at various events and conferences.

One group that we have supported is the UK QGIS User Group. They do a great job of building community and sharing knowledge by running regular, regional meetups. We have contributed content for these meetups as well as sponsorship. There isn’t a meetup that goes by without some fantastic showcases of how OS OpenData is being put to innovative and exciting uses, across many different sectors and use cases. Back in November we also hosted a sold out Better Mapping with QGIS event in conjunction with the British Cartographic Society (BCS). Along with the BCS we also sponsor an award to encourage excellence in cartographic design and the innovative and exciting use of OS OpenData. This year’s award is now open for entries and the closing date is 30 June.

We have also supported FOSS4G in similar ways and last year we hosted the UK conference at or head office in Southampton.

Use of open source

Lots of our customers gain benefits from using open source software and we have some great case studies which highlight their successes.

We hope that’s given you some useful ideas if you haven’t tried out OS OpenData before. If you have any questions, just let us know.

You may also like

Ordnance Survey’s open data journey
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Greenspace joins OS OpenData
Using open source GIS in the public sector

1 Response

  1. I find the cartographic stylesheets, which you talk about here, to be really helpful when using this data. I’m a regular user of OS OpenData and those stylesheets (I use the QML versions, primarily) are a real time saver. Thanks for your work on them.

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