If you’re a user of OS data, you may well have explored our GitHub page. For those unfamiliar with GitHub, it is a web portal where the 28 million users primarily share code and engage at a technical level. GitHub has been adopted by a large number or commercial and public sector organisations, so we jumped at the chance to create a page and work closer with users of our products.
Having been active on GitHub for a while now, we’ve been able to receive feedback from OS partners and other users (including those who were at our technical showcase event). From this, we’ve recognised there was a lack of navigation on the page that made it tricky to locate content.
Following the press release on OS MasterMap Water Network, Product Manager Jessica Gaskell discusses the product further in this guest blog…
As the first comprehensive, single dataset covering Great Britain’s watercourses, I am delighted to say that OS MasterMap Water Network has now become a full product!
The OS MasterMap Water Network product means the data on all the watercourses in GB will be in one place. It is a nationally consistent, topologically structured data of all GB’s watercourses. It identifies how our watercourses interact with each other through the detailed scale of mapping, direction of flow and the primary flow channels alongside giving key information into the characteristics of the watercourse including name, catchment information, gradient and width (to name a few!).
The Understanding Scottish Places (USP) platform launched in April 2015, offering a way of understanding the similarity of places across Scotland. The tool contains a range of demographic, social and economic data on all 479 Scottish settlements with a population of over 1,000 people. Deliberately designed to avoid a simplistic ranking of places as better or worse, USP focuses on the shared characteristics of towns.
On 31 January, the Data Discoverability project published the Geo6 geospatial data catalogues. This project is one of the Geospatial Commission funded projects to maximise the benefits of geospatial data for the UK. The project has involved the 6 partner bodies of the Geospatial Commission. Also known as the Geo6, this includes Ordnance Survey, the British Geological Survey, Coal Authority, HM Land Registry, the Valuation Office and the UK Hydrographic Office.
We’ve been working with the Geospatial Commission alongside The British Geological Survey, Coal Authority, HM Land Registry and The UK Hydrographic Office to create a single Data Exploration Licence. The single licence replaces a number of different agreements from the five partner bodies and allows registers users to freely access available data to research and develop their own ideas and propositions.
We were pleased to provide our own Data Exploration Licence as a template for the new partner body licences. First released to Geovation Hub members as a trial in 2016, we later rolled out the OS Data Exploration Licence in October 2016.
Over the past two years we have seen over 300 registrations from start-ups to large commercial companies sign up to the agreement, including those starting to explore opportunities to create new products and services. We look forward to seeing this trend accelerate with the introduction of the four new licences from the Geospatial Commission, providing users with access to a far wider range of geospatial data.
Benefits of a partner body Data Exploration Licence
By Katerina Harrington, Public Sector Relationship Manager
The expanding population of Great Britain brings certain challenges for local authorities. Large cities have become accustomed to rapid growth and increasingly dense living situations, but across the country, other councils are facing pressure to adapt to a rising populace.
Residential property development has plateaued since the 1970s which has led to house prices rising steadily with exceptional spikes in places such as London. Location data can paint a more accurate picture of Britain’s changing landscape by demonstrating trends that differ locally and enabling a greater understanding of how to prepare our infrastructure for a more densely–populated future.
To help local authorities to prepare, the government has set housing targets, to encourage councils to prioritise the development of new and affordable housing.
As expert map readers will know, when you’re out and about navigating with a compass, there is a difference between magnetic north (where the compass points) and grid north (the vertical blue grid lines shown on OS maps). And if you’re exploring in the west of Great Britain, there is a change to be aware of…
The difference between magnetic north and grid north is often referred to as grid magnetic angle and it not only varies from place to place, but changes with time too, and needs to be taken into account when navigating with a map and compass.
In 2014 there was a significant event in the changing direction of magnetic north relative to grid north on OS maps. For the first time in Great Britain since the 1660s, magnetic north moved from being to the west of grid north to the east. The change started in the very south west corner of Britain, currently affects the areas to the west of the line on our map, and will slowly progress across the whole country over the next 12 to 13 years.
By Andrew Cooling, Strategic Development Manager (Government Relationships Team)
There’s a growing body of research showing a connection between greenspaces and human health and wellbeing.
So much so, areas of green – including parks, public gardens and open spaces – are now a key consideration in the design and structure of towns, cities and communities.
Research into this field comes from all sectors, including social, medical, transport, recreation, housing and planning.
One independent study by land management charity The Land Trust looked at the value of greenspaces and their impact on society. The Value of Greenspaces report reveals that they play a positive part in 90% of people’s wellbeing. Those living near these spaces felt more encouraged to stay fit and healthy, and believed that green areas helped make their communities more desirable (leading to economic uplift).
Greenspaces also improve air quality, reduce the likelihood of flooding, mitigate climate change and are havens for wildlife.
‘Green space should be accessible to as many people as possible. People are more likely to visit green space if they do not have to travel far to reach it, and the most frequent visitors report the greatest benefits to their mental wellbeing.’
There are economic benefits, too. According to the Office for National Statistics’ Natural Capital Accounts, the value associated with living near a green space is estimated to be just over £130 billion in the UK.
With this in mind, further research has been happening in the geospatial arena. What kind of greenspace? Where exactly is it? And how accessible? More insight is being applied to greenspaces to make them more ‘quantifiable’.
By Iain Goodwin and Kat Harrington
During the last year, OS has been working with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Office of National Statistics (ONS) to improve our joint understanding of high streets. Since the Government’s £675 million Future High Streets Fund budget announcement, our collaborative government project has become increasingly more significant.
The importance of high streets has also been acknowledged by Public Health England through their Healthy High Streets research, published at the beginning of 2018, highlights how a healthy high street provides “Accessible, safe, communal spaces foster social interaction and strong local economies and can be used to create healthier, safer and more cohesive local communities”. It also drew the conclusion that the “unequal distribution of healthy and unhealthy high streets is likely to contribute to health inequalities”.
This is a view echoed by retailer, Sir John Timpson, who speaking last December to the BBC about high streets said: “It’s not just about shopping. It’s about communities and creating a hub for entertainment, medical facilities, housing.”
So how can OS help?
We asked ourselves some questions. Where does a high street start and end? What is their geography, and how do they compare? High streets up and down the country have no obvious physical boundaries, and not knowing the exact geography of our high streets makes it difficult to identify and analyse them.
Last week we published our Data Discoverability with Geo6 blog, which followed one of four data-related projects being brought together by the Geospatial Commission to maximise the benefits of geospatial data for the UK. The Data Discoverability project is all about making it easier for current and future users of geospatial information to find out exactly what UK location-based data each of the Geo6 bodies holds.
Today we are excited to announce that as a result of the Data Discoverability team’s work over the last few months, the Geo6 have published 6 catalogues (one for each organisation) listing all the data we each hold. These catalogues are published in a CSV format on data.gov.uk to ensure they are visible and accessible to anyone who needs them. The OS catalogues alone hold over 1,200 datasets from zip lines to roads! This data represents the first stage in a longer process to unlock the value of geospatial data held by the Geo6, and we are publishing this now so that you can get involved in shaping the future work we do.