Based in the UK with a band of 70 or so volunteers and a handful of permanent staff, MapAction is an international disaster mapping charity working to ensure humanitarian responders have access to the maps and data they need to save lives and relieve suffering.
MapAction has received long term support from the OS since 2006. In addition to donations, OS also allows employees who are MapAction volunteers to take 10 days volunteer leave.
OS and MapAction have also worked closely on influencing the international agenda at the UNGGIM (United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management), successfully lobbying for the availability of crucial geospatial data in the aftermath of a humanitarian disaster.
Having just been presented with MapAction’s Volunteer of the Year 2019 award by founder David Spackman, OS employee Steve Hurst shares his volunteering experience…
From the Isle of Arran to Cornwall, our field surveyors are working hard throughout Great Britain come rain or shine. As we did back in August, we want to share a glimpse into how our 200+ surveyors feed in to the 20,000 changes we make to our database every single day. Alongside our surveyors, we have two aircraft and an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) team working to keep our database up to date.
We asked a handful of surveyors about their latest jobs, and they didn’t disappoint. We have everything from Strawberry Field in Liverpool to a new state-of-the-art events venue in Aberdeen.
Tim Glasswell surveyed Europe’s first eco-friendly mosque in Cambridge. With a near-zero carbon footprint, this purpose-built mosque is the epitome of sustainability.
Liverpool-based field surveyor Christopher Robinson found himself on the site of Strawberry Field. Previously the site of a Salvation Army children’s home and made famous by The Beatles hit Strawberry Fields Forever, in September of this year it opened to the public for the first time. Dodging some tourists, Christopher surveyed the new café, meditation rooms and community space – he even found a benchmark!
From indoor arenas…
Having OS Maps downloaded to a mobile phone came in very handy for a walker who found himself completely stuck in mud on a cliff bank near Barton-on-Sea in Hampshire.
Aged 20, Barney Lee was seven weeks into a 6,000 mile-charity walk around the coast of Britain when he arrived at a beach between Barton and Highcliffe. Hoping to find a shortcut for the Mudeford ferry to Bournemouth, Barney followed footprints along a track which became wilder and less clear.
Did you know, our Graduate Development Programme is now open for applicants? As part of our series to introduce you to the wonderful people within OS and share the diversity of our work, meet Matthew Ricketts. As a Graduate Consultant Data Scientist, here he gives us a glimpse into his graduate experience here at OS…
How long have you worked for OS?
I joined OS as part of the Graduate Programme back in September 2017. I finished this in June 2019 and since have landed a full-time position in the Consultancy & Technical Services team within our Public Sector division.
We were delighted to welcome the British Cartographic Society (BCS) and Society of Cartographers to our head office in Southampton for their Annual Conference.
From specialists in commercial, academic and governmental organisations, this two-day event attracts those with the common interest that maps are a valuable communication device. As well as being host to the BCS Award Ceremony, this event offers an opportunity to share information about recent projects, join discussion groups and learn from colleagues and experts.
The BCS Award Ceremony
On the day, everyone had the chance to celebrate and witness first-hand a range of excellent entries across a range of different criteria and formats. The BCS Awards recognise the very best cartographic work and scholarship from around the globe. Among these is the OS Award, which is given for excellence in the application of OS data. Every year it becomes harder and harder to judge as the entries get better and better, but this year there was one clear winner.
As a self-proclaimed outdoor enthusiast, it’s no surprise our guest blogger Dan Harris is a Forward Planning Manager at the Cairngorms National Park Authority. In his spare time, he used our data to create a 3D LEGO map and in doing so, enthused many Twitter users. Here, he tells us about the project…
LEGO is an extremely engaging medium that can generate great enthusiasm in almost any subject, whether the audience is young or old. There are hundreds of examples of its use to promote subjects such as history, philosophy, economics, science and more, so I wanted to bring it to the world of cartography and use it to inspire engagement with mapping, landscape and place.
I’ve always really liked the way 3D relief maps can quickly and often dramatically convey the geography of an area. They’re popular and inspiring so to me, LEGO seemed like the ideal material from which to make my own; and where better to make one for than Scotland? With its mountains, islands and intricate coastline, it seemed to me to be the ideal subject. Plus, I live there and if it’s going to be displayed in my house, I want it to mean something to me.
One of my main objectives was to make the map using open data, so OS’s open datasets were an obvious solution. While I did consider other options, I decided that OS Terrain 50 DTM best suited my needs. To be fair, OS Terrain 50 is total excessive for a model of the resolution I had planned, but I wanted to use it so that in future I could create more detailed maps without having to process loads of new data. My map also includes a part of Northern Ireland, so I used the ALOS World 30m DSM to fill in that gap. Watercourses data came from the OS Open Zoomstack dataset, which is a great source of open data.
Continuing our series to introduce you to the individuals within OS and share the variety of work we do, meet Nicole Frith. As an Associate Data Management Specialist, here she gives us a glimpse into her varied role…
How long have you worked for OS?
I’ve worked at OS for just over 3 years now. I joined the OS Graduate Scheme in September 2016 and have since worked in a wide range of roles and teams across the business. Whilst on the graduate scheme, I visited remote sensing services, cartography, field production and spent time in the customer service centre, market insight, consultancy and technical services and product strategy and management. In September 2018, I started working in the data office and have been there ever since!
Guest blog by OS Surveyor Lee Harvey.
Imagine you’re buying a new house and are worried about the risk of flooding. Or you’re installing a mobile network, such as 5G, and want to know where to place transmitters. You’ll need to know the shape of the ground, buildings blocking line of sight, where will water flow, and a host of other things. OS create a set of 3D height products as well as our 2D maps and data.
Remote Sensing at OS is a big thing. The team spends Spring and Summer (when the weather is better… apparently!) flying up and down Great Britain capturing aerial imagery. These images are used to update our maps quickly and efficiently at head office in Southampton. By taking many overlapping images and using some air triangulation software (that’s the maths of measuring angles from the air), we match these images to their real-world location and work out the height of features on the ground. The software takes these height points and constructs a Digital Surface Model (DSM), which also forms the basis of our orthorectified imagery (a top-down perspective, map-like image). The DSM data includes buildings, trees, bridges and anything which exists at the time the photos are taken. A video game is a good example, as you move your character through any 3D environment, the hard surface that the game graphics display, will be draped over a DSM (although it’s called a Mesh in the 3D graphics industry, the fundamentals are the same). To complement this surface, and to allow lots of clever analysis of the real world, we also create a Digital Terrain Model (DTM).
Back in May, we supported the launch of Places of Poetry with a blog about the project with details on how our mapping is involved. Led by poet and Radio 4 regular Paul Farley and academic Professor Andrew McRae, to celebrate National Poetry Day Andrew has kindly written a guest blog for us…