Our vision to deliver a single customer portal to provide easier access to OS products and services is continuing at pace. In the 12 months since work began on opening up OS MasterMap, we’ve been busy working with customers and testing the OS Data Hub. The design and build of the new developer portal is aimed at providing an easy to access service for our customers. It will replace our current OS OpenData download pages and the API shop, to give our customers:
- Access to free API services up to a threshold and allow users to purchase credit for further access
- A place to manage their accounts and view their data usage
- The option to download OS OpenData products
- Access to data in new and improved formats
- Feedback on errors and omissions in OS data
- A simple way to navigate to product information, an improved API document store, community support and help FAQs
When you’re out shopping, you might think it’s easy to define a high street and where it starts and ends. But is it that simple? Can a town have more than one high street? Is the road called High Street in your town still the primary shopping area? Or has the purpose of the road shifted over time?
We’ve been working with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to define and analyse Britain’s high streets. Together, we have been working out how many high streets there are in Great Britain, what types of properties and businesses are on high streets, as well how the number of businesses and employment has changed in recent years.
We’ve been working with the Geospatial Commission alongside The British Geological Survey, Coal Authority, HM Land Registry and The UK Hydrographic Office to create a single Data Exploration Licence. The single licence replaces a number of different agreements from the five partner bodies and allows registers users to freely access available data to research and develop their own ideas and propositions.
We were pleased to provide our own Data Exploration Licence as a template for the new partner body licences. First released to Geovation Hub members as a trial in 2016, we later rolled out the OS Data Exploration Licence in October 2016.
Over the past two years we have seen over 300 registrations from start-ups to large commercial companies sign up to the agreement, including those starting to explore opportunities to create new products and services. We look forward to seeing this trend accelerate with the introduction of the four new licences from the Geospatial Commission, providing users with access to a far wider range of geospatial data.
Benefits of a partner body Data Exploration Licence
Today is the 83rd anniversary of the first use of an Ordnance Survey trig pillar, so the perfect time to catch up with Britain’s top trig-bagger, Rob Woodall, on his latest achievement.
I bagged my final Welsh trig pillar in 2008 – sort of. At that time, I counted 660 trig pillars still surviving in Wales, and Red Hill, S6561, east of Builth Wells was my last, on a blustery August day. We celebrated with a Balvenie single malt (somehow not a Penderyn).
But had I really finished? The OS originally built 684 pillars in Wales – what about the others? At that time, I was focused on extant pillars, trying to get around as many trigs as I could before they were lost to housing developments, road construction, farming operations and the like. I’d visited all the remaining English, Isle of Man and Scottish pillars by 2016, so it was time to think about visiting the remaining vacant trig sites. Some were simply in-situ replacements, the pillars being rebuilt on the same site, with the same flush bracket or occasionally a new one. Sites that used to have a trig pillar, aren’t inherently as interesting to the bagger as those where there’s something to look for, but the scenery is still there (if it hasn’t been built on), and in some cases, the pillars weren’t quite as dead as we thought:
It’s 70 years since the 1949 Act of Parliament that began the family of National Parks in Great Britain, and our GeoDataViz team have created a stunning poster to showcase the varied landscapes of our 15 beautiful National Parks.
You can buy this poster in the OS Map Shop
Covering a combined area of 23,138 km2 (that’s around 10% of Great Britain and an area slightly larger than Wales) the National Parks offer us a stunning variety of landscapes to explore. With two parks in Scotland, three in Wales and ten in England, they’re accessible to many of us, no matter where we live.
As expert map readers will know, when you’re out and about navigating with a compass, there is a difference between magnetic north (where the compass points) and grid north (the vertical blue grid lines shown on OS maps). And if you’re exploring in the west of Great Britain, there is a change to be aware of…
The difference between magnetic north and grid north is often referred to as grid magnetic angle and it not only varies from place to place, but changes with time too, and needs to be taken into account when navigating with a map and compass.
In 2014 there was a significant event in the changing direction of magnetic north relative to grid north on OS maps. For the first time in Great Britain since the 1660s, magnetic north moved from being to the west of grid north to the east. The change started in the very south west corner of Britain, currently affects the areas to the west of the line on our map, and will slowly progress across the whole country over the next 12 to 13 years.
By Andrew Cooling, Strategic Development Manager (Government Relationships Team)
There’s a growing body of research showing a connection between greenspaces and human health and wellbeing.
So much so, areas of green – including parks, public gardens and open spaces – are now a key consideration in the design and structure of towns, cities and communities.
Research into this field comes from all sectors, including social, medical, transport, recreation, housing and planning.
One independent study by land management charity The Land Trust looked at the value of greenspaces and their impact on society. The Value of Greenspaces report reveals that they play a positive part in 90% of people’s wellbeing. Those living near these spaces felt more encouraged to stay fit and healthy, and believed that green areas helped make their communities more desirable (leading to economic uplift).
Greenspaces also improve air quality, reduce the likelihood of flooding, mitigate climate change and are havens for wildlife.
‘Green space should be accessible to as many people as possible. People are more likely to visit green space if they do not have to travel far to reach it, and the most frequent visitors report the greatest benefits to their mental wellbeing.’
There are economic benefits, too. According to the Office for National Statistics’ Natural Capital Accounts, the value associated with living near a green space is estimated to be just over £130 billion in the UK.
With this in mind, further research has been happening in the geospatial arena. What kind of greenspace? Where exactly is it? And how accessible? More insight is being applied to greenspaces to make them more ‘quantifiable’.
By Iain Goodwin and Kat Harrington
During the last year, OS has been working with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Office of National Statistics (ONS) to improve our joint understanding of high streets. Since the Government’s £675 million Future High Streets Fund budget announcement, our collaborative government project has become increasingly more significant.
The importance of high streets has also been acknowledged by Public Health England through their Healthy High Streets research, published at the beginning of 2018, highlights how a healthy high street provides “Accessible, safe, communal spaces foster social interaction and strong local economies and can be used to create healthier, safer and more cohesive local communities”. It also drew the conclusion that the “unequal distribution of healthy and unhealthy high streets is likely to contribute to health inequalities”.
This is a view echoed by retailer, Sir John Timpson, who speaking last December to the BBC about high streets said: “It’s not just about shopping. It’s about communities and creating a hub for entertainment, medical facilities, housing.”
So how can OS help?
We asked ourselves some questions. Where does a high street start and end? What is their geography, and how do they compare? High streets up and down the country have no obvious physical boundaries, and not knowing the exact geography of our high streets makes it difficult to identify and analyse them.
Our OS Maps users created over 300,000 public routes across Great Britain in 2018 (covering some 2,950,000 miles…) and we were curious to see where you most (and least) enjoy exploring. Our Data Scientist Andrew Radburn set to work analysing the data before our Data Visualisation expert Charley Glynn set to work to showcase the results.
Analysing OS Maps route data
Guest blog by Registers of Scotland.
Registers of Scotland is a non-ministerial government department that looks after registers relating to land, property and other legal matters. Two years ago Scotland’s Land Information Service (ScotLIS) was set up to transform our services and make land and property data more accessible to all.
Since then, the service has truly evolved. From early development through to launch, the ScotLIS team has very much focused on a customer-centric approach. An example of this is the initial user workshops held with a range of stakeholders, with customer collaboration continuing throughout the development lifecycle.