Last week saw the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), reveal the winners of the RIBA Awards for London 2011. The awards ceremony at the V&A museum also saw three special London awards, with the Chiswick Park Café by Caruso St John taking the region’s top honour as the RIBA London Building of the Year Supported by BLP Insurance. In addition, The Olympic Delivery Authority for the London 2012 Velodrome by Hopkins Architects Partnership LLP won the Design for London Client of the Year Award.
Ordnance Survey was a sponsor for the awards and for the third year running we produced a new Ordnance Survey RIBA Awards for London map which details all the winning schemes across London. The map is mailed to RIBA members and is also available free from the RIBA London office.
I’m sure most of us have been more than happy with the lovely sunny, dry weather this spring, but how many can say that it’s helped them complete their work too? Personally, I’ve given more than one resentful glance out of the window at the glorious weather – not while writing for the blog of course! – but my colleague John has been embracing it whole heartedly.
John is part of the Ordnance Survey Flying Unit. Working as part of our Remote Sensing department, the Flying Unit could be in the skies anytime that weather allows between early March and November.
Five people, some from our field teams and others from head office, work on a rota from our Blackpool airport base during the flying season. The two people on the rota spend around two weeks at a time in Blackpool, flying as often as the weather permits, including weekends.
When we were planning the move to our new head office, we had quite a dilemma over how to dispose of our excess furniture in as environmentally friendly a way as possible.
We were moving from a block purpose built for our needs in the 1960s, with space for over 3,500 people, to a new head office, planned and built for around 1,000 people. This meant we had excess racking and shelves, desk screens, filing cabinets, cupboards, desks, desk chairs, meeting chairs, plan chests, pedestals, soft seating, plants and much more. While some certainly seemed to be reusable, other items, once unbolted from walls and floors and moved, would be of little use to anyone.
Have you come across this problem in the past? How did you deal with it? We worked with a company called Go Green Reprocess Ltd to ensure our excess furniture was disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. As well as recycling every scrap of material they possibly can, Go Green Reprocess work to sell and donate reusable items in the local community. In total, they processed some 17 895 items for us, amounting to 484.6 tonnes – and not one piece of our furniture went to landfill.
In fact, around 20% of the furniture was either sold or donated for reuse. Some 30 organisations benefitted, most local to our Southampton head office, and a handful local to Go Green Reprocess’ base in Shropshire. The rest of the furniture was then stripped apart (often a painstaking task, I’m told) and recycled.
While we know a number of contacts at local schools and charities, Go Green Reprocess spread the net much wider and contacted 123 schools in the area as well as many local charitable groups. They arranged viewing of the items available and then collated lists of requested items and arranged collection times. Local organisations that received donations included Romsey District Scouts, Nursling and Rownhams Village Hall, Hounsdown School and Oakwood Primary School.
Go Green Reprocess have already had some great feedback:
There is no budget allowance for this type of equipment in schools at the moment, therefore the school really do appreciate the generosity of Ordnance Survey and Go Green. Thank you for your help.
Doreen Longman, Community Development Officer, Hounsdown School
Thank you so much for allowing us to collect items from the clearance at Ordnance Survey, we are extremely grateful. I attach our certificate of thanks…
David Sutton, Vice President, Romsey District Scouts
With the weather taking a turn for the better, it sometimes feels like a real treat to spend a day working out of the office – much as I love our new building! Yesterday I was invited along to spend some time in the beautiful Dorset countryside working with a team from ITV West Country who were filming the work taking place on the Osmington White Horse.
The 200-year-old Weymouth monument to King George III on horseback is being renovated and returned to its original position and outline. It’s a story that has generated lots of interest among local people and ITV’s Duncan Sleighthome was keen to find out more for a local news programme.
The Osmington White Horse Society has been working on the renovation of the figure for over a year with help from Natural England and local Army and Navy units. However, Ordnance Survey and English Heritage have now been involved to make sure the outline positioning is as true to the original as possible.
The carving which is 280 feet long and 320 feet high originally took three months to complete. Although from a distance it doesn’t look that big, when you actually get up close – it’s huge and I’m not sure the photographs really do it justice! However, the integrity of the monument has been threatened with weed, scrub and weathering – not surprising really given it’s on a really steep hill and the wind blows a gale up there – even on a lovely spring day.
Following on from last week’s article on the wide range of work our cartographers cover, we started thinking about how cartography has changed over the years. We have a number of team members who have recently moved to our new head office at Adanac Park, and have also worked at our previous two Southampton bases, at Romsey Road and London Road, spanning more than 40 years. I caught up with John to find out a bit more… if you have any memories about cartography at Ordnance Survey, let us know.
“My time at Ordnance Survey started with a training course on 25 January 1966 with me earning the princely sum of £446 per annum. After a few weeks we moved from to the training drawing sections at London Road. The building had been caught in the blitz in 1941 and was a shadow of its former self. At this point in time it still felt like a military organisation with military personnel occupying all of the top management positions.
My cartography skills started with the ruling pen. We would draw a 7/1000 inch gauge line in black ink onto enamel. We were working on enamel coated zinc plates on which an image of the surveyor’s work had been printed in a light blue aniline die, at 1:1 250 map scale. Map symbols and text were added to the enamel and the finished article was used to make the printing plate At that point the zinc plate would be stripped of the old enamel image and re-enamelled to be used again.
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.