Today marks 227 years since Ordnance Survey was founded. On 21 June 1791, the Board of Ordnance purchased a new Ramsden theodolite, and this is seen as the foundation of our organisation. A lot has changed in those 227 years: we moved from London to Southampton; we went from mapping for the military to mapping for people, businesses and the government; from mapping Kent (our first map published in 1801) to a geospatial database of Great Britain with over 460 million features…the list goes on.
We’ve also had a few different looks over the years, as you can see in our evolution of OS brand logos below.
Guest blog by Ewan Campbell, composer of Glynde.
In many ways cartography is to a landscape, what music notation is to sound. They both use two-dimensional visualisations to represent something which is multi-dimensional, and in the process create a beautiful pictorial format of their own. My map enthusiasm is driven by a desire for the overview that a maps offers, and the scope to explore the virtual depiction of a landscape.
There is however a crucial difference between the two idioms: music is always experienced through the temporal dimension, and time, as we know it, can only ever run forwards. No matter how many repeats, verses, loops or recapitulations a composer may decide to add there is always a beginning which at some moment later must be followed by an ending. As a result traditional music notation is linear, and read forwards like a book. The aim of my cartographic music is to make the musical form visible. The 2-dimensional score offers a structural overview of the virtual musical soundscape, which can be imaginatively entered into, just as one would ‘read’ a topographical map.
For April Fool’s Day we challenged one of our most senior and experienced cartographers to create a mythical island for Country Walking magazine. The premise was that this island had been lost to the sea centuries ago, only for it to have now mysteriously risen out of the waves in need of mapping.
Mark Wolstenholme, in his 34 years at OS, has worked across every series of mapping we have. Here he explains how to produce a fictional island in a short time frame, while making it authentic enough to convince as a prank.
The beast from the east dominated headlines this month, with snow causing traffic issues, school closures and disruption across the country. In Cumbria, the depth of the snow and challenging terrain resulted in significant issues accessing some communities. Cumbria’s multi-agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (SCG), made up of partner agencies, secured military assistance to help access the most isolated communities, many of which had been cut off from all supplies for five days. We were asked to assist the SCG under Mapping for Emergencies (MFE).
One of our technical consultants, Kevin Topping, knows the power of geospatial in these situations only too well. Since joining OS last autumn, Kevin has been working with local resilience teams across England and Wales, showing how geospatial data can help in emergency planning. He ensures that authorities are aware of the data available under the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) and how to best make use of it, including calling for extra assistance from OS under MFE.
The Lakes Ignite programme for 2018 features an OS-inspired work of art called Ordnance Pavilion, paying homage to the trig pillar and the work of OS surveyors in mapping Great Britain. It’s flattering to be an artist’s muse, but we wonder if it’s not the first time OS has inspired an artwork…
Created by Studio MUTT, Ordnance Pavilion is an interactive installation in the Langdale Estate in the Lake District. It forms part of Lakes Ignite 2018 which presents six contemporary artworks to celebrate the Lake District’s designation as a World Heritage site. On display between until July 2018, Ordnance Pavilion is a celebration of OS and how our maps have impacted people’s interaction with the landscape.
By Andrew Cooling and Steve Kingston, OS
The Office for National Statistics (ONS), have begun the delivery of a Great Britain-wide natural capital accounting project, gathering insights on urban green spaces and their effect on our social and economic well-being. We’ve been working with ONS on the project, along with Defra, with our GI Consultant Steve Kingston being seconded to the ONS team to provide geospatial analytical support.
The project started with a pilot in the Greater Manchester area, which delivered at the end of 2017. The pilot helped shape the methodology to deliver two parts of the urban ecosystem accounts, estimates of the extent of green space and blue space in urban areas and estimates of the services provided by this nature, such as filtering air pollution and recreational opportunity.
The urban accounts offer a coherent way of looking at the value of green space in urban areas across Britain. The project aims to help both the private and public sectors to value and monitor the extent and condition of nature in the urban environment and recognise the services it provided. The accounts will aid policy makers in prioritising investment and making informed decisions.
The Timepix historic photo site launches today and makes a unique set of photos from OS’ history available online for the first time. Over 21,000 photos catalogue the Manchester streets between the 1940s and 1960s, giving a unique insight into the city’s past captured by OS surveyors. From children and animals photobombing the surveyors, to a background of vintage adverts, Timepix showcases a fascinating collection of photos around Greater Manchester.
Why were OS surveyors photographing Manchester?
OS surveyors took revision point (RP) photos across Britain to provide a network of surveyed locations. These known spots could then be used to ‘control’ the position of detail on a large scale map. RPs were often on corners of buildings and other immovable features, and were fixed to centimetre accuracy. Finding the RPs for future map updates was an issue, and photography quickly became the best visual reference – leading to thousands of photos of men with white arrows…
Guest blog by Egbe Manners, GI Consultant
One of my colleagues loves online shopping, so, when she moved to a new flat and her favourite home delivery services couldn’t find her address, she was frustrated. Increasingly having a successful delivery to her flat is becoming a differentiator to which online retailer she chooses. Is she expecting too much from online retailers?
Luckily, working at Ordnance Survey (OS), I know a bit about address data. I understand some of the challenges facing retailers to keep customer address data updated. It takes time, investment, and effort to maintain their mailing lists. However, it is worth the effort.
Having access to over 29.6 million addresses in Postal Address File (PAF) from Royal Mail, is a good starting point. However, finding those households within a building that has been divided could prove trickier. But this is made easier with the 12 million additional addresses that OS source from Britain’s local authorities.
By Katerina Harrington, Relationship Manager, OSGB
With an increased focus on house building across the country, how can we monitor the changes to the landscape of Great Britain? Government has pledged to enable the building of 300,000 new homes a year, to counteract the short fall of homes in this country. But they’ve also promised to protect the greenbelt and build more homes on brownfield land. How can we ensure our green spaces are being protected? Do we know how many homes are built on brownfield land vs greenspace or on the green belt? How can we monitor land change?
Land classification from Ordnance Survey (OS) data provides a way of monitoring the changes to the natural and built environment. Information about land cover and land use is a key part of the planning process. It’s used as a benchmark of current investments and can reveal patterns to inform regional planning. Planners may use land change patterns as part of an environmental conservation or sustainability project, or to predicted future housing requirements.
In fact, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) use OS land change information. It aids the analysis and monitoring of change in the number of homes built on the green belt, flood risk areas and previously developed land (brownfield).
If you’re working in the geo industry, you may have heard about Nautoguide and their product Geovey. The former Geovation Challenge winners have expanded from mapping the Battle of Jutland to working with local government and even supplying a feedback service for our OS Open Greenspace product. Dave Barter from Nautoguide tells their story.
We’ve been working closely with OS recently as we won a public tender to supply feedback services for OS Open Greenspace, which launched in 2016. This challenging project saw us work with OS’ brand, design ethos and data requirements to build a feedback system in under two months. This is now live and operational in 19 local authorities and 5 OS field offices with new organisations added each week, and helping OS update OS Open Greenspace.
This is a huge step onwards from winning a £29,000 grant through OS’ Geovation Challenge on “Helping people to live in better places”. For this we conceived Geovey, a mapping platform designed for public engagement, crowdsourcing, consultation and richer citizen involvement. To our delight we were invited to pitch our idea to the Geovation judges and eventually won the grant, along with mentoring and support from OS.