The saying goes that it takes a village to raise a child, and it’s certainly a cross-team effort to create and maintain an OS OpenData product within OS. So, in addition to our surveying teams capturing changes across Britain and adding them to the 500 million features in our geospatial database, we caught up with some of the people who work on OS VectorMap District, our customisable backdrop map.
Creating and releasing OS VectorMap District
A couple of months ahead of a new release of OS VectorMap District, Derek Howland and our ‘GenIE’ team extract the data from our core database. We use this core large-scale data to derive OS VectorMap District so that OS OpenData customers can benefit from our meticulous revision policy and enjoy access to open data which is consistent and up-to-date across the whole of Great Britain. The sheer volume of this data means we process it in ‘partitions’ (created using the national road network) and then ‘stitch’ the data back together.
After processing, the data is stored and validated, to ensure consistency of content and currency. Edits which are identified by the system are manual edited in the Cartography team using their wide range of skills and knowledge to resolve any critical non-conformances in the content store data. This is fairly minimal – affecting about 650 features out of 24.5 million features in the content store!
Released in beta format in March 2015, five years into our OS OpenData journey, OS Open Map – Local rapidly became our most popular open data offering with almost 400 downloads every week. Having released the full V1 for OS Open Map – Local last November, we have just released a refresh of our most detailed street-level open data product.
Do you use GEMINI? See the latest version and send your feedback on the new approach. Peter Parslow, our open standards lead and chair of the AGI Standards Committee explains more.
AGI has long-maintained UK GEMINI, a guide to creating metadata for geospatial resources. Local authorities and major data publishers like ourselves, ONS, BGS, Defra all use GEMINI to describe our products – datasets and services. These records are then collated automatically to data.gov.uk, and on the European INSPIRE portal. The records in data.gov.uk can also be accessed directly from within desktop GIS tools like Arc Desktop and QGIS, by using the OGC Catalogue Server interface, and by other tools by using the CKAN API described at https://data.gov.uk/data/metadata-api-docs. There’s ongoing work in Europe to integrate this approach more with mainstream web search engines – at present, it is a bit ‘geo specialist’!
We’re celebrating seven years of OS OpenData, and its success is down to the people and businesses using the products. We are always interested in hearing how open data is being used, so please keep sharing your examples with us. One business who we have spotted using our data regularly over the years is Parallel. We asked Ashley Clough, founder of Parallel to explain how OS OpenData has benefitted them.
Parallel has evolved to specialise in data-visualisation and mapping, particularly for healthcare data in and around the NHS. We started to use OS OpenData when we became frustrated by the styling of available basemaps for website applications. We needed a set of maps that were optimised for the presentation of data overlays; as icons for point locations and polygons for area indications. We needed to control what was visible on the map at every zoom level and crucially we needed to ensure that the level of detail was consistent across the entirety of Great Britain. We investigated using open source map data but we couldn’t rely on the consistency of data within urban locations, and particularly in more rural locations. As the maps are used within the NHS we needed to ensure that everywhere had the same quality of data; OS OpenData was, and we believe still is, the most consistent for our purpose.
Our talented Craft Club created the fantastic Great British Craftography Map, and it’s currently up for auction to raise money for Solent Mind, our corporate charity. The crafty individuals recreated the Ordnance Survey National Grid into a 2.2m by 1.2m wall hanging with the 91 tiles showcasing 16 different craft techniques. Each tile represents a notable subject from the area covered – it could be a geographical feature, a well-known landmark, a local food, or even a craft or material associated with the area.
Just for fun, we have a #CraftographyMap quiz to test your knowledge of Britain. We’ve picked ten of the crafty tiles – can you tell us which areas of Britain they represent? Bonus points if you know the corresponding National Grid tile reference too…
Blog by Tim Newman, OS OpenData Product Manager
This month sees us celebrate the seventh anniversary of the launch of OS OpenData. This was a big milestone for us as we released 11 of our mapping and analytical datasets under open licensing. Each day, 150 different people download data from our portal taking, on average, two products each. This adds up to over 400,000 orders placed since the launch of OS OpenData in 2010 and an enormous 1.9 million downloads in total.
Using a wide range of techniques, our talented Craft Club have created a fantastic Great British Craftography Map, and we’re putting it up for auction to raise money for Solent Mind, our corporate charity. The crafty individuals recreated the Ordnance Survey National Grid into a 2.2m by 1.2m wall hanging. And you can now bid for the unique, mappy piece of art in an online charity auction.
We’re at Solent Mind‘s Eastleigh Wellbeing Centre today to officially open their newly-refurbished training room, with our CEO Nigel Clifford and Solent Mind CEO Kevin Gardner on hand to cut the ribbon. A fantastic team of OS volunteers had donned their decorating overalls to transform the once dull room into a clean, energising environment which can now be used by staff, volunteers, and service users.
As part of the makeover our team not only decorated the room but helped install new blinds, carpet, furniture, storage and artwork including a creative finger print painting from OS staff. The room wouldn’t have been complete without a map, so one of the final touches came when the team hung an OS Custom Made map canvas centred on the building.
Guest blog by OS-sponsored PhD student Katherine Stansfeld at University of London
Superdiversity is a concept which recognises that cities are becoming ever more diverse, complex and unpredictable. But how can OS respond to the ever-shifting multicultural city?
Through my PhD research, based around Finsbury Park, a neighbourhood in north-east London, I’ve discovered the power and potential of mapping to explore and investigate the meanings of places in diverse contexts. Using interviewing, visual ethnography and participatory mapping, the research explores vernacular geographies; the everyday ways places are talked about, lived and experienced. This allows an investigation of how lives and trajectories overlap in the area, finding what is shared and what is different. The research conceptualizes place as radically open, shifting and multiple and employs mapping as a tool to explore the connections and plurality in the superdiverse city.
We often share the photos taken by our Flying Unit in between their surveying tasks. And you’ll have seen the aerial imagery they take when surveying from the skies. But have you ever wondered what it’s like to do your daily work in the back of a Cessna 404? Roger Nock, one of our Flying Unit, took a photo of his workspace. Take a look.
Roger explained what we can see…