Keegan Wilson


100 years of getting people outside – celebrating Ellis Martin

OS map cover with artwork by Ellis MartinIf you’re a fan of old maps, you might have seen some of Ellis Martin’s work. The map cover artwork in the 1920s and ‘30s was often created by Ellis Martin, who joined OS in 1919. Those maps with Martin’s distinctive drawings helped establish OS as a leading outdoors brand, something worth celebrating 100 years on.

With the anniversary already in mind, it was quite a coincidence to receive an email saying: “When clearing out a relative’s house, I came across a painting done by the artist who illustrated your map covers, Ellis Martin.” Read More


OS reports recommend the creation of a Digital Twin for a successful rollout of 5G

3D viewshed analysis of Bournemouth used in 5G project

While the world enjoyed the action at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, we were just as interested in what was happening away from the ice and snow. Namely the first large-scale 5G pilot service.

For critics it served as a marketing ploy for KT Group, South Korea’s largest telecom, who promoted the event as the first “5G Olympic Games in the world.

For us though, the games with its driverless buses, immersive broadcasting, 360-degree instant replays and zooming, as well as the opening ceremony’s spectacular 5G-enabled peace dove, the trial seemed like a fun way of introducing the next generation of wireless communications to a wider audience.

However, the surface has yet to be scratched on what 5G can truly deliver to help improve our lives. It’s very much in its infancy, but already we see how more and more devices are increasing their worth to us with services that require reliable Internet connectivity. Even the humble doorbell has received a tech makeover. You can now see and speak to whoever is at your door, no matter where you are on the planet. Imagine one day a surgeon in one area of the country performing vital surgery somewhere else through a 5G-enabled robot. 5G will help the Internet cope with this increase in demand.

In 1899, the Head of the US Patents Office, Charles H. Duell, famously declared: “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

Then came the 20th century, the age of mass invention. Nearly 120 years on and, in this context, you sense that 5G is the start of something extraordinary. With some even stating it will: enable the future – accelerating innovation and growing the economy. Exciting stuff for everyone, you’d think. But it’s not that Mr Duell was wrong in 1899, though he was, he just demonstrates how fallible we all are when it comes to imagining the future.

If Mr Duell, a man surrounded by invention and America’s brightest minds couldn’t see computers, microchips, moon rockets and the Internet coming – to name just a few of the 20th century’s stunning breakthroughs that would have bent his head – then what chance do the rest of us have in explaining what the 5G future will be or look like? Except to say: It’s what you make it.

5G and OS

One thing that we know with certainty, and we write about this in two government-funded reports published today, is that the most cost effective and simplest way for the UK to adopt 5G is through the creation of a ‘Digital Twin’. Read More


Is this the most unusual way of showing support for a team ever?

Following on from the recent ‘Sue x’ field carving mystery, we spotted letters almost as long as the Anfield pitch spelling ‘LFC’ spotted on Shropshire hillside – but who has done it? 

Our Flying Unit captures aerial imagery of over 50,000 square kilometres of the country each season. From the Isles of Scilly to Shetland, the team will capture over 140,000 aerial images each year, using the 196-megapixel cameras on-board the planes. And sometimes their pictures reveal something strange on the landscape…

Such as earlier this week, when flying over Shropshire, Andrew Tyrrell, a Remote Sensing Surveyor and Air Camera Operator, noticed ‘LFC’ carved into the scrub on the north side of Titterstone Clee Hill (SO588787), and took a picture. Intrigued by who or why someone would do such a thing and the effort required in such a remote location, he sent the image back to head office for analysis.

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The Dark End of the Street

Are these some of Britain’s most scariest streets and gruesome roads, ask the batty guys and ghouls of Ordnance Survey this Halloween?

The picturesque Lancashire village of Appley Bridge sits in the Douglas Valley near the Leeds and Liverpool canal. To find the village you need to come off the M6 at junction 27 and go a few miles west before heading south when you reach the B5375. What makes this village extra special when Halloween rolls around is that despite being relatively small, it is home to a number of street names that lend themselves fabulously well to Halloween: Back Skull House Lane, Skull House Mews and Skull House Lane.

The village also has the dubious distinction of being the only place in the country where you’ll find ‘skull’ in a street name. Why? Read More


The OS Map Fan Club

After a sold-out run at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe The OS Map Fan Club is coming to our Southampton head office to help launch National Map Reading Week and raise money for Solent Mind. The performance will be held on Monday October 16 at 7 pm. Space is limited, so booking is essential, and attendees are asked to make a minimum donation of £5 on the night to gain access. To reserve your place email your details to 

The OS Map Fan Club is a solo, comedy show written and performed by OS enthusiast Helen Wood, and is a humorous exploration of the much loved, fold-out, paper map.

In this fast-paced, entertaining show Helen leads the audience on a virtual ramble using sheet 168 Explorer Map of Stroud, Tetbury and Malmesbury. Along the way she weaves together fascinating facts about locations, maps and rambling with amusing autobiographical stories and sketches.

Helen is determined that by the end of the show all audience members will be card-carrying, badge wearing O.S. map fanatics.

‘Joyful, friendly show steeped in ‘Great British Bake Off’ values’

Three Weeks 

‘Helen Wood is a warm and engaging performer who entertains the audience with her fun and touching show’

West End Wilma

‘If you like walking, this is a great way to spend an hour’

To reserve your place email


What can I do to build a smarter future?

Have you ever had an idea so perfect that you know it could improve the lives of many people, only to be left feeling frustrated by not knowing the right person to tell?

If this is you, then you may be interested in a unique opportunity to help shape the smart city of the future.

CityVerve is the UK’s Internet of Things demonstrator, a project set in Manchester that is investigating how to create a connected city using technology to meet the complex needs of people. The aim is for CityVerve to be a blueprint for smart cities worldwide. Read More


Through the looking glass


The Mars map created by OS’ Chris Wesson

By Layla Gordon

Back in February OS took a trip off of this planet to produce a paper map of Mars.

This inspired the Tech Labs team, who had been already involved in Augmented Reality (AR) work, to produce a Mars AR experience using this map.

As all good work with augmentation, the first step was to create some 3D content for augmenting the map. Using a set of height data for the planet captured by NASA, and with the advice of Peter Grindrod from UK Space Agency, I produced a height map in Grey Scale. Then using Blender I created a 3D terrain model of the Schiaparelli crater and its surroundings.

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Talking augmented reality at the GeoTech meetup

Layla Gordon at the GeoTech Meetup

Layla Gordon at the GeoTech Meetup

At our recent GeoTech Meetup at the Geovation Hub the hot topic of conversation was augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and how mashing these with geospatial data unlocks the potential for some pretty exciting innovations in the near future.

OS Labs engineer, Layla Gordon, led the event at the Hub, and here she explains some of her adventures with AR…

Our first foray into the virtual spaces goes back to May 2015 where OS was the platinum sponsor of an event called Digital Shoreditch in London. The venue is a Victorian basement with lots of corridors and rooms and in previous years visitors had trouble navigating within the building and finding the exhibitions they wanted to see.


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Geovation Hub – one year on


The Geovation Hub has been open now for one year. In that time it has:

  • 550 members’ regular attending the hub and using its space and resources.
  • 40 SMEs basing themselves at the Hub.
  • 4 start-ups on the Geovation Programme.
  • 30 lead partners.
  • Delivered £300,000 of revenue through partnerships and sponsorships that was unbudgeted.
  • GeoSpock – one of the first members of Geovation, using the hub to build their business and validate what they are doing. We took an active role in helping them secure £3.5m in investment.
  • FATMAP who came to us in the summer of 2015 with 3 people needing somewhere to establish themselves and take their 3D ski maps to market. They went live with their product in December and went out to a web summit in Ireland. We worked closely with them on their pitch and presentation, and they ended up raising £1m of bridge finance.
  • FATMAP grew from 3 to 8 employees when they were with us.
  • 3 Crowd Cube successes – Stay Safe raised £400,000. OpenPlay raised £150,000. Store Mates is closing in on raising £150,000.
  • Around 20 companies this year that have grown by at least a couple of people since they have been at the Hub.

I caught up with Geovation Hub manager, Alex Wrottesley about Geovation, the Hub and the past year.

Alex Wrottesley

Alex Wrottesley

What is Geovation and what is the Geovation Hub?

Geovation is Ordnance Survey’s (OS) commitment to open innovation and the Geovation Hub, Clerkenwell, is how OS creates new models to work with other companies and organisations outside the business.

In our first year there are already a wide range of businesses using the hub. This includes large corporations, to SMEs to individuals starting out. Basically it is anyone with an interest in innovation and entrepreneurship within geospatial data. Read More


CityVerve launches in Manchester

Guest blog by Simon Navin, Ordnance Survey Project Lead, Smart Practice.

July saw the official launch of CityVerve, the UK’s demonstrator project in Manchester for large scale deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) technology. OS are part of a consortium of over 20 public and private sector organisations, ranging from SMEs to large global corporates, who over the next two years will design and deliver a series of citizen-focused solutions around the themes of Transport, Energy, Health and Culture, using IoT sensor and collaborative platform technology. After six months of governance negotiations, the project is now live and everyone is raring to go.

Our role is to provide the geospatial framework and location expertise upon which solutions may be based. The project will be a challenge to our existing content and working methods, as well as providing us with essential insight into what the content of the future may look like and how it may need to be delivered and shared. We’ll learn a lot from working with experts in data presentation, platform development, hardware deployment and key sector expertise.

The University of Manchester shown in the emerging 3D context model based on point clouds derived from aerial photography

The University of Manchester shown in the emerging 3D context model based on point clouds derived from aerial photography

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