If you missed last week’s blog, catch up now before finding out a little more about what goes on behind the scenes in our Cartography teams…
My next stop was with Jim in Landplan. His team of 20 are responsible for the revision and update of the 1:10 000 database. This covers OS Landplan, 1:10 000 Scale Colour Raster and 1:10 000 Scale Black and White Raster, OS Street View and more recently, OS VectorMap Local.
Jim told me that the Landplan vector editing system was developed in-house during the mid 1990s. The capture programme started in September 1996 and the 10 587 tiles in the initial database were completed in 2001. It was the first production system in Ordnance Survey to use auto generalising algorithms to do Cartographic generalising for a derived product.
What is ‘space weather’? Well this generally means solar flares – or as you might have heard on the news recently – coronal mass ejections to give them their full title!
Solar flares are related to sunspot activity which tends to run in 11 year cycles. We’re now entering the period where sunspot activity is increasing to amaximum for the current cycle. On Tuesday there was a big flare – the biggest for 4 years – whilst tonight those of you in Scotland might even get to see the Northern Lights as a result, so keep your eyes on the skies!
So what’s all this got to do with mapping?
Mention a cartographer and people will think of someone who draws maps. Well, it’s obvious isn’t it? Having spent a few hours talking to various members of our Cartography team though, I’m actually amazed at the breadth of areas they cover. So, if you’ve already read our ‘day in the life of a surveyor’ blogs, read on to find out what happens once that surveyed data gets inside the building.
Our Cartography team, which is really lots of separate teams with different specialisms, is led by Huw, and they are responsible for deriving and maintaining cartographic databases, and providing the finished data for Ordnance Survey national series paper and data products. They do this through the manipulation and enhancement of our core databases. But as well as this ‘core’ work, they work on lots of other projects from specialist maps to innovative work on the effects of colour vision deficiency on mapping.
Sandy leads the Explorer team. Unsurprisingly, they work on the design, editing and updating of databases for our very popular 1:25 000 OS Explorer Map. The team also work on the data for our OS Select bespoke product where customers can centre a map on an area of their choice and on our digital product, 1:25 000 Scale Colour Raster.
When many people think of Ordnance Survey, they think of the lovely OS Explorer and OS Landranger maps. However, the vast majority of mapping, or data, that we send out to customers is actually on CD, DVD or hard drive. Last year we shipped 38 terabytes of data – or approximately 39,874,560 MB. These were produced on six robots and give our customers access to our OS MasterMap products and many more. The team responsible for producing the customer digital data orders and sending them out are the DPSC team and I caught up with Kelly Callawayto find out about a typical day in the life…
00.01 – OK, so we don’t start just after midnight but, on the first of every month, at this time our SAP system will start to create update orders for our robots. In fact, both our fulfilment systems run 24/7 and our robot, the Microtech XL Express with an 800 disk capacity, means that we can support unattended running even over the longest holiday.
What do River Cottage and the Royal Air Force have in common with us at Ordnance Survey? The A700 Rocket composter.
Huw and Gwen from Tidy Planet came in recently to do some training for our new industrial composter, so in the future we’ll be composting all our food waste. At our ‘tea points’ around the building there are compost bins and any food waste from our Restaurant will also be included. Before you know it, all our waste will become lovely compost to spread onto our grounds at Adanac Park.
OS MasterMap is our flagship product family, but have you ever wondered how a photo taken by a plane makes it onto a computer screen as a piece of data? Photogrammetry is the science of measuring and interpreting objects from photographs to answer questions like how high is that feature?
Remote Sensing is the process of acquiring information without coming into physical contact with the subject under investigation. We use this process, in conjunction with ground-based revision by our field surveyors, to update our large-scale databases
We have a large contract in place with external suppliers to supplement our own flying and photogrammetric production.This gives us the capacity to have to 6 planes flying on our behalf at any one time, allowing us to make best use of good weather conditions and process 60 000 to 70 000 sq km (more than a quarter) of Great Britain each year.
I’ve talked in previous posts about the new head office we’ll be moving to later this year and how excited I am about a shiny new building – but what about all that packing? If you think that there are around 1,100 of us currently living in a building intended for around 3,500–4,000, you can imagine how much space we’ve got. And if you think about what you do with any spare space in your home (come on, I bet your lofts, garages, sheds and cupboards are packed to bursting!), then you can imagine the task facing us after 40 plus years at Romsey Road.
Paul’s already updated us on the historic artifacts we’ve uncovered, but there are also thousands and thousands of old maps and map-related records. So, what do we do with them? There are actually several routes we follow. Our Historic Map Archive has been used to complete collections and libraries up and down the country for example.
We recently caught up with two of our Inverness surveyors to find out what challenges they face in their remote corner of Scotland. They mentioned mapping the changes at a hydro scheme and I thought it might be an idea to find out how we updated our OS MasterMap database to show the Glendoe Hydro Scheme, Scotland’s largest recent civil engineering project. Craig and Dave faced a technical challenge in finding the best way to map the new and changed topographical features.
The Glendoe Hydro Scheme is located in the hills above Loch Ness near Fort Augustus and although a significant part of the project is underground, many new and changed features needed to be incorporated into our OS MasterMap database. These included the dam wall, the reservoir, all of the access and service roads, changes to water courses and their associated walls and sluices, and changes to the extents of vegetation and other surface features.
The job of a surveyor is the one that we get asked about the most. People are fascinated by the people in hi-vis jackets that work their way around the country capturing the 5 000 changes made to our database everyday. Craig Methven and Dave Robertson work in our Inverness field office and told me what they get up to…
The prospect of the upcoming move to our new head office has resulted in buzz of increased activity around the building in recent months. Just like when you move house, it’s been a good time to have a bit of a clear out and take stock of what’s been hiding under the proverbial bed or in the attic.
Well, part of that process has included cataloguing the many pieces of antique surveying equipment that have been accrued by Ordnance Survey over the past 200 years. Some of the items have played an historic role in the birth of modern map making in Britain and are irreplaceable.
To understand more about some of this fascinating equipment, I caught up with Ken Lacey, a surveyor by trade who now works in our education team. Ken was kind enough to give me a tour of what is rapidly turning into an Aladdin’s cave of cartographic memorabilia, with two pieces being of particular interest.