If you tune into BBC World Service, you may have heard the series 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy.Tim Harford tells the fascinating stories of 50 inventions, ideas and innovations which have helped create the economic world. The series asked for nominations on the 51st thing and Miranda Sharp, our Head of Smart Cities Practice, suggested GNSS (the Global Navigation Satellite System which encompasses GPS, the US’ Global Positioning System, amongst others). It made it to the shortlist and is open for votes until 6 October. Miranda explains why she nominated GNSS – and why you should vote for it!
I gobbled up Tim Harford’s latest series 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy. Tales of female emancipation wrapped up in TV dinners, tackling corruption through the technology of M-Pesa and enabling rapid transfer of ideas in an urban economy with the advent of the elevator. Listen to them all, buy the book, they are brilliant stories.
We’ve had a few questions recently about benchmarks and trig pillars and what they are and how they differ, so we thought we’d clear it up.
Most weeks we’ll see a Twitter conversation where someone is asking what this mark is:
A #TBT to the OS benchmark, spotted here by @770.92. These survey marks can still be found on walls and buildings across Britain and were a way of recording height. Today, our surveyors use GNSS technology and it takes just seconds to do a task which could take days in our past. There are around 500,000 benchmarks in various formats – have you ever spotted one?
Many think it is War Office-related, but it is in fact an OS benchmark (BM) and a means of marking a height above sea level. Surveyors in our history made these marks to record height above Ordnance Datum Newlyn (ODN – mean sea level determined at Newlyn in Cornwall). If the exact height of one BM was known, the exact height of the next could be found by measuring the difference in heights, through a process of spirit levelling. They can be found cut into houses, churches, bridges and many other structures. There are hundreds of thousands of them dotted across Great Britain, although we no longer use them today.
We usually share stories about our teams adding new features to the map, such as the Queensferry Crossing or even a whale, but we also have to remove features from our database. London-based surveyor Tony Killilea was recently tasked with removing a football stadium from the map…
With over 500 million geospatial features across Great Britain and some 10,000 changes taking place in the database each day, it’s not difficult to understand how our surveying teams are kept busy. From new roads to new shopping centres, it’s easy to forget about the existing features that have to be removed for new developments to be built.
We’re lucky in Great Britain to live in an area packed with ancient monuments and archaeological sites. And it can add a twist to your weekend #GetOutside adventures to plan a walk that takes in one of these sites. From Avebury’s Neolithic stone circles to Caerleon’s Roman amphitheatre to Glen Elg’s Iron Age brochs, the whole country has fantastic historic sites available.
One of the OS Historical map series, our Ancient Britain map provides an overview of thousands of years of history. Part map and part historical guide, the whole of Great Britain is covered in a double-sided sheet. It includes a list of key dates, events and archaeological evidence. Sites and museums are listed along with recommended reading for more information on the period.
We’re now in our second year of supporting Solent Mind as our corporate charity. Most people will know at least one person who has suffered from poor mental health and Solent Mind provide an extremely important service to local people, close to our head office in Southampton.
We’re all trying to raise as much as possible to make changes to the lives of those suffering with mental illness and those family and friends supporting them. As a business which is keen to encourage physical and mental health, we’ve supported our own #GetOutside messaging and many staff have taken part in football tournaments and marathons. Our OS Runners raised over £1,000 running a relay marathon from London to Cardiff earlier this year. Plus, OS participants completed the London Marathon, and we have people taking part in the Great South Run later this year.
This weekend, our CEO Nigel Clifford and his daughter Caitlin will be taking part in the Great North Run, helping to raise more awareness of mental health issues and fundraise for Solent Mind. You can find out more about Nigel and support his challenge on JustGiving.
The Queensferry Crossing opens to traffic today and joins the Forth Road Bridge and Forth Bridge in spanning the Firth of Forth. Our surveyors Derek Smith and Guy Rodger visited the site last week to add some final details, along with Alastair Dalton from The Scotsman newspaper.
OS MasterMap showing the three bridges
By Neil Dewfield, Principal Consultant, Ordnance Survey International
Why does it matter how geospatially mature you are? What impact does geospatial maturity have on life chances, on government policy making, on a nation’s economy?
It feels as though we’re at a moment in history where these questions are being asked increasingly often. And I sense we’ll look back on this as a time of revolutionary change in the geospatial world. Tech development has been exponential over the last decade, creating a brave new world of opportunities to harness geospatial intelligence for societal good. High-quality geographic data can now power effective decision and policy making in government; it can support sustainable growth and deliver real benefits to a whole nation. Being able accurately to locate assets and resources and to know how they’re being used helps authorities design and focus public services, and to engage and involve citizens in this process. And, as cities get smarter, changes to how these services work can be made in near real time.
Did you know that OS Maps subscribers added over 400,000 routes to the service over the last 12 months? We’ve analysed the (almost) 400,000 public routes and found that Snowdon bags the top spot for most routes created.
We broke the country down into square kilometres and counted the number of routes passing through each square, and while Snowdon topped this list, the Edale area of the Peak District grabbed 6 of the top 10 spots, with the Lake District taking the remaining places.
Our Flying Unit has been immortalised by the iconic Squadron Prints who produce the highly acclaimed series of aircraft and ship lithographic prints. One of the Cessna 404 Titan’s we use, G-FIFA, features on the stunning print.
Our Flying Unit operate from East Midlands Airport, taking to the skies above Great Britain between February and November each year. Professional pilots take our air camera operators up in two Cessna 404s, G-FIFA and G-TASK, to take aerial imagery of over 50,000 square kilometres of the country each season. From the Scilly Isles to the Shetland Islands, the team will capture over 140,000 aerial images each year, using the 196-megapixel cameras on-board the planes.