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.
The saying goes that it takes a village to raise a child, and it’s certainly a cross-team effort to create and maintain an OS OpenData product within OS. So, in addition to our surveying teams capturing changes across Britain and adding them to the 500 million features in our geospatial database, we caught up with some of the people who work on OS VectorMap District, our customisable backdrop map.
Creating and releasing OS VectorMap District
A couple of months ahead of a new release of OS VectorMap District, Derek Howland and our ‘GenIE’ team extract the data from our core database. We use this core large-scale data to derive OS VectorMap District so that OS OpenData customers can benefit from our meticulous revision policy and enjoy access to open data which is consistent and up-to-date across the whole of Great Britain. The sheer volume of this data means we process it in ‘partitions’ (created using the national road network) and then ‘stitch’ the data back together.
After processing, the data is stored and validated, to ensure consistency of content and currency. Edits which are identified by the system are manual edited in the Cartography team using their wide range of skills and knowledge to resolve any critical non-conformances in the content store data. This is fairly minimal – affecting about 650 features out of 24.5 million features in the content store!
Released in beta format in March 2015, five years into our OS OpenData journey, OS Open Map – Local rapidly became our most popular open data offering with almost 400 downloads every week. Having released the full V1 for OS Open Map – Local last November, we have just released a refresh of our most detailed street-level open data product.
We’re pleased to announce that The British Cartographic Society (BCS) are collecting entries for their 2017 awards. Their range of award categories aims to recognize the very best cartographic work and scholarship from around the globe and entries are welcomed from all areas of the mapping community.
We provide the BCS with an award to encourage excellence in cartographic design and the innovative and exciting use of OS OpenData. Over the years, we have had some excellent entries including this winning entry from Ashley Clough at Parallel in 2013.
We’re celebrating seven years of OS OpenData, and its success is down to the people and businesses using the products. We are always interested in hearing how open data is being used, so please keep sharing your examples with us. One business who we have spotted using our data regularly over the years is Parallel. We asked Ashley Clough, founder of Parallel to explain how OS OpenData has benefitted them.
Parallel has evolved to specialise in data-visualisation and mapping, particularly for healthcare data in and around the NHS. We started to use OS OpenData when we became frustrated by the styling of available basemaps for website applications. We needed a set of maps that were optimised for the presentation of data overlays; as icons for point locations and polygons for area indications. We needed to control what was visible on the map at every zoom level and crucially we needed to ensure that the level of detail was consistent across the entirety of Great Britain. We investigated using open source map data but we couldn’t rely on the consistency of data within urban locations, and particularly in more rural locations. As the maps are used within the NHS we needed to ensure that everywhere had the same quality of data; OS OpenData was, and we believe still is, the most consistent for our purpose.
Blog by Tim Newman, OS OpenData Product Manager
This month sees us celebrate the seventh anniversary of the launch of OS OpenData. This was a big milestone for us as we released 11 of our mapping and analytical datasets under open licensing. Each day, 150 different people download data from our portal taking, on average, two products each. This adds up to over 400,000 orders placed since the launch of OS OpenData in 2010 and an enormous 1.9 million downloads in total.
Following a number of queries about our Boundary-Line OS OpenData product, please read our statement.
The primary purpose of Boundary-Line is to show the current operative administrative and voting boundaries within Great Britain. New boundaries are determined in accordance with Statutory Instruments and Community Governance Orders, which typically come into effect when elections are held (usually in May). Our product update cycle for the May release aligns with the dates that the changes to electoral and administrative boundaries become operative.
To maintain and update Boundary-Line, we need to process data received at different times, from many third parties, in differing formats within the production cycle. If we released Boundary-Line data ahead of schedule, the data would not have the benefit of going through the production processes which are in place to ensure that the data is accurate and reflects all of the available changes to the boundaries that we receive from local authorities.
Peter Capaldi will be back for his final series as the twelfth Doctor this Easter and media speculation (and betting) on the new Doctor Who reminded us of our OS OpenSpace Tardis map*. We decided to add a new dimension for 2017, marking the location of the birthplaces** of the 12 actors to play the Doctor so far, as well as the 73 Tardis dotted around Britain. Would it reveal a Doctor hotspot and help identify the thirteenth Doctor?
We found that 25% of Doctors hail from Scotland with the remaining 75% being born in England – so is it time for a Welsh Doctor to hit our screens? Or will Scotland continue to attract Doctors due to the huge number of Tardis in the country?
Guest blogger Nicholas White explains how photography and opendata go hand in hand…
I began my photography career shooting digitally. Digital was commonplace, both on consumer and professional levels. It seemed to be the go-to medium for financial viability, instant gratification and provided the photographer with the ability to produce large quantities of imagery without breaking the bank. This is by no means a bad thing, I’m all for embracing change. Change is good, it keeps us on our toes, opens doors to new methods of image-making and challenges us to think about how we align with the current trends in photography. Instagram and smartphone photography has added an extra dimension to this rapidly shape-shifting medium, with an average of 70 million photos per day being shared in 2015.
Our most detailed street-level open data product, OS Open Map – Local, is now live in full V1 format. Since its launch in beta format in March 2015, it has proved immensely popular with 20,000 tile downloads in the first week alone.
Following your feedback during the beta period, the full release includes a number of new features: