We have an excellent help and support section on our website to advise you on Ordnance Survey map products, map facts, maps and symbols for emergencies and getting the most from our online mapshop. A question we’re often asked is ‘what is GIS?’ and there’s a whole section dedicated to that too. Find out the basics here and visit the website to dig deeper into the subject.
Put simply, a GIS is a geographical information system, and to make that system work, you need maps and some software. We are one of many organisations producing map data for use in GIS. There are many more companies who then produce GIS software.
We were delighted to have been invited along to participate in BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival last weekend at Sage Gateshead.
Sage Gateshead is an iconic building, which opened in 2004, on the south bank of the River Tyne and hosts a range of musical education workshops, performances and conferences. It was a fitting venue to some of the country’s leading thinkers over a weekend which promised provocative debate, new ideas, music and performance.
Our Director General Vanessa Lawrence was invited to be on the panel for a session entitled ‘Why are maps still so powerful?’ along with author and academic Jerry Brotton – author of ‘A History of the World in 12 Maps’. Presented by BBC’s Rana Mitter, the radio interview was recorded in front of a live audience of around 200 map users.
Discussions are recorded for BBC Radio 3 and broadcast over the next three weeks or available to download.
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT) is part of the influential UK-wide partnership of 47 Wildlife Trusts and has worked for more than 65 years to protect wildlife and wild places and educate, influence and empower people to conserve wildlife.
Responsible for 95 sites covering in excess of 6300 acres, YWT manages assets within different territories as well as mapping and tracking the ownership of site boundaries and collecting and storing extensive conservation data from surveys. They work with landowners on many conservation projects and mapping plays a key role in the large portion of their activity.
The Trust needed to be able to view and analyse the information they were gathering on a digital map – the data needed to be presented in a comprehensive, visual and geographic nature to fully understand the relationship between the data and the geography.This in turn would help with funding bids, as well as managing projects and memberships.
Guest post by Gayle Gander of GeoPlace (@GayleGander)
Case studies from the 2012 GeoPlace Exemplar Awards have now been published in book form.
The case studies celebrates the work of Award winning Custodians across the country and demonstrate how Authority Address Custodians and Authority Street Custodians are enabling local authorities to create efficiency savings and support service delivery.
The Custodians are the people responsible for creating and maintaining essential national resources in the form of the National Street Gazetteer and the National Address Gazetteer. The National Address Gazetteer is a critical part of the AddressBase® range of products which are now widely available, and being used by the public sector through the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) as well as by the private sector.
The case studies featured in this book demonstrate the importance of address and street information to local government – with much of the best practice transferable to other organisations across the public sector.
It’s getting to the time of year where the school holidays are approaching and you might be thinking of something to keep the children entertained, especially after the excitement of Christmas Day. One idea to get outdoors that can appeal no matter the time of year is the zoo. Most are open all year around, closing only on Christmas Day itself.
Did you know that London Zoo was founded in 1828, making it the world’s oldest scientific zoo. Located on the edge of Regent’s Park, it’s home to 755 different species of animals and more than 16,000 animals.
Today’s zoos are a far cry from the tiny enclosures of days gone by and capturing zoos on a map, makes you realise just how large an area they cover. Of course, our intrepid team of surveyors don’t have to map the animals themselves, no matter how large they may be.
Would you recognise zoos from across the country on a map? That’s the theme for our mapping extract quiz this week. Let us know the names of the zoos on our eight OS MasterMap Topography Layer extracts and post your answers on the blog.
Guest blog by Graham Pennington, Geodesy & Positioning team
Today (Friday 7 December) is the 75th anniversary of the completion of measurements on the Ridgeway Base. The Ridgeway Base runs from White Horse Hill (grid ref. SU3008386375) to Liddington Castle (grid ref SU2098279752) with trig points marking each end. The baseline was one of several measured sides in the network of observed triangles that made up the triangulation network for the re-triangulation of Great Britain. A triangulation network requires at least one measured side in order to control scale and to fix the size of the network to “the real world”.
At its simplest, the baseline was a straight line measured between two fixed points, measuring just over 11 km in length and divided into 18 bays approx. 3/4 km in length. However, in these days of satellite surveying at cm accuracy and laser distance measurement at mm accuracy, it is easy to take for granted the accuracy of the results achieved 75 years ago and the effort involved in measuring the baselines. The measurements were taken using little more than tapes measuring 24 m in length and just 3 mm wide. Each bay was measured 3 times and the measurements only accepted when they agreed to within 0.2 mm. This is an incredible tolerance even today and the overall accuracy of the whole length was estimated to be just 1 cm. When the length was checked in 1951, with superior equipment, it only differed from the original measurement by just over 6 mm!
Today’s guest blog is by Jo Rawlings, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, explaining how a vernacular geography project called FINTAN is helping to pinpoint locations for emergency responses.
When receiving an emergency or distress call, understanding the position of the person in difficulty is vital in delivering a swift response.
HM Coastguard is working in partnership with the Ordnance Survey on a dataset that will help with this process.
Expanding the depth of the dataset
Developed by Ordnance Survey with a pilot run within the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), the vernacular project (FINTAN) is a software data collection and management web application covering Great Britain. The dataset initially included within FINTAN will locate any place name already shown on an Ordnance Survey map. However, to deal with the fact many locations are known by alternative local names, work is underway to identify and verify these, and then add them to the FINTAN database.
When a person calls 999 and asks for the Coastguard, they may not be certain of their exact location or the position where they can see someone in trouble.
However they may know the area by its nickname, such as Cow Beach, otherwise known as Prisk Cove in south Cornwall.
Guest blog by Colin Fane, Geodesy and Positioning Consultant
Most people are familiar with trig pillars. There are over 7,000 of them scattered around Great Britain. However, there is another, considerably more elusive, type of pillar to be seen across the land – the fundamental bench mark (FBM). FBMs are the physical realisation of our national height datum ‘Ordnance Datum Newlyn’ (ODN – mean sea level at Newlyn, Cornwall, 1915-1921) and are still crucial in defining this reference system today.
There are nearly 200 FBMs around Great Britain, mostly constructed in the first half of the twentieth century at sites carefully selected to provide an anchor to bedrock. The height of each FBM relative to ODN was determined by a network of precise levelling lines across the country. The levelling network was then densified with approximately three-quarters of a million bench marks, using less precise levelling. These lower-order bench marks are often seen cut into stone at the base of a building, church or bridge and about half a million of them are still in existence today.
Approximately half the FBMs are surrounded by railings, particularly in urban areas. To the casual observer the railings could be mistaken for a receptacle for other people’s rubbish (or at least this seems to be what some people use them for). However, the railings do provide protection and some of those FBMs without them can get damaged.
Lampeter FBM (SN5752) is one such example. It was brought to our attention that the pillar had been broken in two and the visible section of the pillar, above ground, was now laying on the ground. As these monuments are still important to our work, it was essential to rescue the broken pillar (before someone liberated it as a garden ornament!) and to repair it.
We’ve been telling you about the campaign we are running to encourage land and property professionals such as surveyors, conveyancers, architects and developers to ensure they are licensed and up-to-date when they use location data. The campaign is supported by RICS, Land Data, FAST and other leading industry figures and features a series of filmswhich explain why it’s important.
In the final of the three films aimed at the Land and Property sector, RICS’ Land Director, James Kavanagh explains why he believes that up-to-date data offers chartered surveyors peace of mind that they can offer the best service to their clients. In short, they need to understand how up-to-date, licensed data plays an important role in maintaining their professional reputation. Professionals who have any doubts about whether their location data licence is up-to-date should contact their data supplier or Ordnance Survey directly for guidance.