Ordnance Survey in the news


Ever passed “Go” and wondered where it is?

I think most of us have played Monopoly at some point in our lives and we all know that friend or family member who can be a bit liberal at their banking…does the thought of taking more than 200 Monopoly dollars to pass “Go” ring any bells? But have you ever wondered where “Go” actually is? 

OS OpenData Monopoly map

OS OpenData Monopoly map

The rest of the board game is well-labelled and “Go” actually sits between Mayfair and Old Kent Road – but where is it? Monopoly celebrated its 75th anniversary on Wednesday and we joined forces with them to pinpoint the location of “Go”.

“Go” is actually centred on Lambeth North Tube Station, close to Queen’s Walk, where Monopoly held their celebration event. As well as locating “Go” we worked with Monopoly to create a bespoke map: from the range of free Ordnance Survey data available within OS OpenData, OS VectorMap District was chosen as the base for the new map. 

Highly customisable, OS VectorMap District was stripped back to basics to allow for the Monopoly data to be added and overlaid. The map of London was quickly transformed to highlight the roads and areas shown on the Monopoly board before adding the locations and the title deeds for each property and station. 

It was fantastic fun to work with Monopoly and as well as plotting “Go” on the map we also marked the locations of all the other Monopoly board positions. The final ‘Monopoly map’ looks great and really brings the game to life, giving it a whole new dimension. 

Visit OS OpenData to create and connect exciting ideas, applications and datasets.


Surveying one of Snowdonia’s highest mountains

Over the past year or so, I’ve been working with a group people who are on a quest to rewrite the map of Great Britain.

John Barnard, Graham Jackson and Myrddyn Phillips have been tirelessly climbing some of the country’s most famous peaks and measuring their heights using state-of-the-art GPS equipment.  In doing so they have helped create mountains where once there were mere hills, and vice versa of course!

Their latest expedition takes them to Snowdonia and one of Wales’ most iconic mountains.

This is their story:

“One of the most spectacular mountains in Snowdonia – Tryfan – may be suffering from delusions of grandeur.  With a 915 metre (3,002 ft) map height, it is close to one of Britain’s historically important benchmark heights, that of 3,000 ft.

Since there is a +/-3 metre (+/-10 ft) margin of uncertainty associated with the surveying method that determined this height (using aerial photographs), it means that Tryfan might not be a 3,000 ft mountain at all.

Tryfan, viewed by many as iconic, rises above the Ogwen Valley, its profile dominating the surroundings.  Its crowning glory is its summit, which comprises two monolithic blocks of rock, known as Adam and Eve. They are separated by just enough daunting space to tempt the occasional “fearless” scrambler to clamber atop and jump from one to the other!

At the summit

At the summit

It is our intention in the latter half of June to resurvey Tryfan and determine if this mountain is in fact over 3,000 ft high. Our surveying activities have stemmed from our quest to improve the accuracy of hill-related data within the Database of British Hills, a database available on the internet which contains details of over 6,500 hills.

It’s also fun to bring an activity based on measurement science into a realm such as hill walking.  Moreover, there is the opportunity to take in the beauty of our much varied upland landscape while awaiting the GPS equipment to gather data!

Gathering data

Gathering data

This project is taking place in conjunction with the Snowdonia Society and also with involvement from Paul Beauchamp and Mark Greaves of Ordnance Survey.

The announcement to resurvey Tryfan was broadcast by the BBC on 15 March, who along with ITV and an independent production group, CREAD, all want to join us at the summit on the day of the survey.

We decided it would be wise to conduct a reconnaissance in order to work out exactly, at our leisure, how we would survey Tryfan!  This would save us time on the actual day of the survey as solutions to any problems would already have been found.

The day of reconnaissance was clear and sunny, but with a biting wind from the North West. We strapped the equipment to one of the blocks, checked that it remained stable and made sure that satellite signals could be received satisfactorily. All we have to do now is repeat this procedure, but this time gathering the minimum of 2 hours of data required for Ordnance Survey verification whilst being filmed doing so.  No pressure there then!

Will Tryfan remain a 3,000 footer?  Keep checking the Ordnance Survey Blog for the answer!

For those interested in ‘The Tryfan Project’ you can now follow its progress on YouTube.

John Barnard, Graham Jackson, Myrddyn Phillips”


OS OpenData goes live!

Today is a big day in our history with the launch of OS OpenData, giving more access to free, unrestricted Ordnance Survey mapping than ever before. You can read more about the service and the products available in our news release.

Today’s launch is the result of a huge amount of work by a great number of people both here at Ordnance Survey, in government and elsewhere, including Professor Nigel Shadbolt at the University of Southampton and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web. To understand a little more about the project and how OS OpenData fits into the wider work of the ‘Making Public Data Public’ initiative, Nigel and Sir Tim made this film whilst here in Southampton for our recent Terra Future conference.

Keen to know what everyone thinks of the service, although please be patient with it!

Update – May will see OS VectorMap District added to OS OpenData. There are sample tiles and data available now on our website and here’s a short interview with Ordnance Survey’s Rob Gower about the product.


Could the future of maps be 3D?

Some incredibly clever people up in our Research team have spent part of a 3 year project working on this spectacular 3D map of the Bournemouth seafront. The work has been part of trials looking into how people might want to use 3 dimensional data for business, government and leisure in the future. I was gobsmacked when I first saw it.

The map was created using traditional GPS techniques combined with air and land based laser surveying, using something called Lidar, which works like light based sonar. Apparently this fly around is made up of about 700 million individual laser points!

If there was a 3D map of the whole country, can you imagine having a virtual tour of a town or mountain peak before heading off on holiday? Or, what about the emergency services being able to visualise the scene of an incident before they arrive? They would know about points of access, be able to see any obstructions and know the size and shape of any buildings involved. We’ve even spoken to someone who’s interested in renting roof space for solar panels. The possibilities are huge! How do you think you could use it?

There is still a lot of work to do before that could become a reality, such as how you would keep a 3D map up-to-date when we already make 5000 changes a day to the two dimensional mastermap of Britain, but its an exciting window into the future for using GI.

If you want to find out more about our 3D mapping project, you can read this article from the Daily Telegraph.


Pathe news reel: how things used to be done!

A bit of fun and a fantastic window into the past here thanks to this Pathe news reel. I love the voice over and most of us can only dream of the motorway being so free of traffic! The technology, hairstyles and brown overcoats may have changed, as you can see from this film showing our modern techniques and taking us behind the scenes, but the passion, dedication and attention to detail are still here.

Just a note on accuracy though, I’m reliably informed that the film probably isn’t actually from 1953 since the first motorway in this country, the Preston by-pass, wasn’t opened until December 1958 and tellurometer didn’t come into use until 1957.

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