As Britain’s mapping agency we’re keeping track of half a billion geospatial features across the country and making tens of thousands of changes daily. We have over 200 surveyors on the ground and aircraft who survey from the skies to ensure we have the latest data ready for our customers. Our Flying Team were already prepared for some changes in 2020 as they were moving base and flying in new aircraft with new cameras, but Covid-19 had a bigger impact. Find out how the team have been working in 2020.
The Flying Team are usually in the skies above Britain from March to early November each year, using the aircraft and high-resolution cameras to survey about a third of Britain, that’s around 80,000 km2 of imagery data and over 100,000 individual images.
New base and aircraft
For the 2020 season, the team are flying from a new base, Retford (Gamston) Airport in Nottinghamshire. It’s a great location to fly to both the North of Scotland and down to the South West of Britain, and quite a change from working at our previous base in East Midlands Airport which is a large cargo hub and holiday gateway.
In the months since lockdown restrictions around Great Britain began to be relaxed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Britons valued the chance to GetOutside. During that time, subscribers to OS Maps have logged almost 700,000 routes in the app, showing whereabouts in the country they’ve been outdoors.
The new Public Sector Geospatial Agreement (PSGA) is set to benefit the public sector, businesses, developers and academia. It will deliver the next generation of location data and transform the way people access, share and innovate with geospatial data, through new, richer data, improved access and ease of use and new freedoms to share information.
These new freedoms and the ability to link datasets for third parties included the announcement of the Open Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) product, that will allow you to freely incorporate this key identifier into your data holdings. The OS Open UPRN product will provide a unique identifier for every location that can have an address along with a coordinate. But what do you do if you need to know the address, extra attribution and be able to rely on it as the authoritative source of information? This is where AddressBase Core can help.
Our Mapping for Emergencies (MfE) service supports the resilience community and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year at no cost to the user. Quick access to reactive geospatial support at any time, including outside normal working-hours is a key feature of MfE.
We’ve been running MfE for over twenty years and been called into action many times over that period. We’re often supporting localised responses to major incidents which occur at very short notice and are generally short-term. Recent examples include Toddbrook Reservoir and heavy snowfall in Cumbria.
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.
Most of us are aware that Britain’s coastlines are constantly changing with erosion and landslides and we’ve blogged before about how our data is being used to predict future changes to the Scottish coastline. One challenge is capturing the changes quickly and ensuring our data reflects the current coastline.
A recent landslide on the Norfolk coast at Sidestrand demonstrated the benefit of drone use to capture change. Footage of the cliff fall was captured by a member of the public and James Morrison from our Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) team, worked with our Norfolk–based surveyor Jez Hull, to respond quickly.
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Earlier this year the ‘Data Discoverability’ project, sponsored by the Geospatial Commission, took some really positive steps towards making it easier to find and access location-based information (or ‘geospatial’ data) on the web by:
- Publishing a standardised geospatial data catalogue on data.gov.uk for each of the Geo6* organisations, and;
- Making a number of user-research based recommendations for data publishers and search tool providers.
Last year the Government announced its plans to unlock its mapping and location data to boost the economy by £130m a year. Since then we’ve been working with the Geospatial Commission, the geospatial industry and our customers to make this a reality.
Chris Chambers is the OS lead on the Open MasterMap Programme and brings us up to date on progress so far.
What have we done so far Chris?
The Geospatial Commission and Ordnance Survey are working hard to deliver the government commitment to release Open MasterMap data. This is a large programme of work.
As you can see from the infographic above, the Open MasterMap Programme has a large number and wide variety of deliverables – ranging from clearer pricing & licensing information to introducing a whole new way of engaging with Ordnance Survey. We’re working with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure the Open MasterMap deliverables best meet customer needs. I’d say that to date we’ve delivered in three main areas:
By Lucie Woellenstein, Graduate Data Scientist
Did you know that there are 50 motorways in Great Britain with over 8,300 km of roads and a whopping 666 junctions? How many junctions have you taken? Or will you be taking as you head off for the summer holidays? Ever tried to come off a motorway junction, only to find you’ve taken the wrong exit and are now heading in the wrong direction? Maybe you’ve driven through the famous ‘Spaghetti Junction’ in Birmingham, and wondered what it looks like from above? Or perhaps you’ve been perplexed at how the most complex of junctions somehow actually work?
Well here at Ordnance Survey, we’ve spent many hours over the years thinking about the interwoven laces of motorway junctions. Not from the perspective of a driver, but that of a cartographer. From data architects conceptually modelling how to capture data, to surveyors capturing the exact GPS locations of our roads, and to the cartographers that digitise the maps you use to travel along the motorways – a lot of thought goes into how to cartographically represent junctions in a way they make sense to the map reader.