As we start a new year we thought it would be a good time to reflect on 2017 and also look ahead to 2018. 2017 was our first year with the new team name, GeoDataViz, prior to which we had been known as CartoDesign. You can read more about the changes we made and the reasons why here.
Throughout the year we saw and heard an increasing number of things from many others that validated our decision to make these changes to our team. We always want to stay relevant and forward-thinking and we feel that we are really well placed to do this. It was much more than just a change of name for us – more a change of mindset and a new approach to data. We’re now more journalistic and we aim to tell compelling visual stories rather than just map topography. When working through a project we are now asking more questions, challenging requirements, digging deeper and looking for different angles to tease out narratives and insights.
One of our big achievements last year was the release of our GeoDataViz Toolkit (read more about the release here). Our toolkit is a set of resources that will help you communicate your data effectively through the design of compelling visuals. It is something that we developed and used ourselves throughout 2017 and it enabled us to be more efficient and consistent, allowing us to free up time to work on other things.
What is a basemap?
Often referred to as a contextual or backdrop map, a basemap contains reference information used to both orient the viewer and add context to any data that is overlaid. Basemaps come in a variety of types, styles, and scales, from full detail to muted ‘background’ styles.
In this post we want to explore the options available and share some useful tips for presenting your contextual data effectively.
What are the options?
When it comes to choosing a basemap there are many choices available, from creating your own to using a provided service. Let’s look in more detail at some of these options:
Raster maps are images made up of pixels. The content is set and the scale and style are predefined however it is possible to make minor alterations to the look and feel of them. If you’re using a raster basemap then it’s often a good idea to desaturate the colours, reduce the opacity or even convert it to greyscale. This will help your overlays stand out more clearly.
GeoTech masterclasses are a popular series of events organised by the team at our Geovation Hub in Clerkenwell Green, London. These workshops are not to be missed and book up quickly and it was on a chilly November evening that the Hub played host to the GeoDataViz (GDV) team.
Kicking off the session was Charley Glynn who gave an overview of the team and the important role we play within OS. Our role involves making sense of complex data through compelling visuals and we do that through a number of different techniques and using a range of software.
To emphasise this Charley took us on a journey through some of our recent work including our visuals for the CityVerve project and OS Custom Made. You can find out more about our team and the type of work we do here.
Next up was Paul Naylor who introduced the new GeoDataViz toolkit, a set of assets and resources that can help with communicating data effectively through the design of compelling and informative visuals.
What is in the toolkit?
The GeoDataViz Toolkit is a set of resources that will help you communicate your data effectively through the design of compelling visuals.
What is in the toolkit?
Basemaps – Often referred to as a contextual or backdrop map, a basemap contains reference information used to both orient the map and add context to any data that is overlaid. We are providing information about the OS range of basemap styles, the colour values for each and some best practice guidance.
By Paul Naylor
The British Cartographic Society (BCS) and the Society of Cartographers (SoC) joint conference recently got underway at the Redworth Hall Hotel in Durham. After months of careful planning and organisation the stage was set for three days of inspirational presentations, hands-on workshops and the annual BCS/SoC awards ceremony.
Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the work of our Cartographic Designers. The team have been posting a variety of articles here since 2013 from reviews of events to sharing helpful resources. The team recently made some changes to the way in which they work and the work that they undertake, including a name change; from Cartographic Design to GeoDataViz.
In this post the team will consider some of the reasons why, and what the changes mean for them, their work and our customers.
This visualisation, which we created in June 2016, was the trigger for us to review our team and led to the changes that we have made subsequently. It was the first time that we had published a geographic visualisation that doesn’t contain any topographic data. We simply plotted the GPS data using colour techniques that help represent the density. This method is much more abstract (possibly considered as more art than science) than our traditional topographic maps but we felt it gave us a more engaging and visually stunning visualisation.
Yes, there are 607 OS paper maps of Great Britain for you to choose from, but did you know there are also infinite Custom Made maps you can order? Tens of thousands of you have already put your Custom Made map orders in, creating enough map areas to cover the moon three times, an amazing 111.5 million km2 of Britain printed on your maps.
CartoClinic is a simple way to get in touch and get help whether you are having problems with your GI or concerns with your cartography. Made up of Paul Naylor and Charley Glynn from our GeoDataViz team, we can also call on industry experts from both within OS and from our extensive external network.
Last month marked the seven year anniversary of OS OpenData. We have recently shared insights into how our open products are made and how they are being used. In this post we would like to share some of the other activities we undertake to support our open data and support the community of users, including those involved with free and open source software.
The take-up and effective use of our datasets are fundamental to their success. With this in mind we have produced various resources that lower the barrier to entry and make use easier. We also support the community of users in various ways, from sponsorship of events and awards to the release of assets and resources to lower the barriers of entry.
If you are using, or planning to use OS OpenData then you can find help and support here. There are frequently asked questions and a forum for posting questions and keeping up to date with the latest announcements.