Our Geovation team has four new GeoTech start-ups with new technologies and new thinking joining them on their corporate accelerator, the Geovation Programme. Since opening their doors less than two years ago, Geovation has welcomed some of the UK’s leading geospatial start-ups onto the Programme. They’ve helped businesses as varied as app makers improving the public’s fitness and access to sports facilities, to big-data platforms revolutionising drone risk and insurance.
Are you a teacher? Or a governor? Or have children at school? Then you need to know that the popular Digimap for Schools service has been updated to include over five million photos of Great Britain.
The fantastic online service already brings geography to life, with OS maps past and present, aerial photography and more. The new photos are supplied by Geograph and are set to enhance the classroom experience of discovering and exploring the country.
Guest blog by OS-sponsored PhD student Katherine Stansfeld at University of London
Superdiversity is a concept which recognises that cities are becoming ever more diverse, complex and unpredictable. But how can OS respond to the ever-shifting multicultural city?
Through my PhD research, based around Finsbury Park, a neighbourhood in north-east London, I’ve discovered the power and potential of mapping to explore and investigate the meanings of places in diverse contexts. Using interviewing, visual ethnography and participatory mapping, the research explores vernacular geographies; the everyday ways places are talked about, lived and experienced. This allows an investigation of how lives and trajectories overlap in the area, finding what is shared and what is different. The research conceptualizes place as radically open, shifting and multiple and employs mapping as a tool to explore the connections and plurality in the superdiverse city.
March 24 sees the UK film release of Lost City of Z. It chronicles the South American adventures of British explorer, cartographer and archaeologist Lt Colonel Percy Fawcett. I joined a panel discussion in London last week, along with historian Dan Snow and Lost City of Z author David Grann, discussing how Percy would have explored and mapped a new land. Catch up on the podcast here.
A member of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), Percy Fawcett first arrived in South American in 1906 to survey and map an area of jungle lying on the Brazil and Bolivian border. The border between the two countries was not fully mapped and it was agreed that an RGS survey and map would be accepted as an impartial representation of the border. Today we would complete this activity using satellite systems and sophisticated surveying technology, which obviously wasn’t available back then. So, how would Percy and his team have gone about making maps?
Guest blog by Andy Ryan, Senior Technical Product Manager
When I go somewhere new, I usually look up a map (OS of course) before I go. I’m not quite sure why I do, but it’s a habit of mine which my children tease me about. In the world of business, when location is involved then you probably do the same, often without realising it. Using a sat nav to route a delivery van, ascertaining if a house you want to buy is on a flood plain, reviewing a site for a new development, or planning some underground pipe replacement all involve ‘maps’. But what if the map was blank or only partially complete, or you had to ask lots of other different people to send you bits of information that you had to stick together and even then you were not quite sure if it was complete?
When you need to work under the ground this is how it can feel. Lots of organisations have information, but it can be hard to share the information quickly and to common standards. This creates delays, unanticipated disruptions, extra costs and danger to those working in these areas. This is a widely recognised problem and the direct costs to the UK of accidental damage to utilities alone has been estimated at £150 million, with associated indirect costs, such as traffic disruption, of ten times this*. If other potential costs or savings are factored in, for example assessing the potential of brownfield sites, identifying infrastructure at risk from subsidence or tree roots, then the benefits of a map that includes what lies below ground increases significantly. The Treasury estimate that greater cross-sector collaboration with infrastructure networks across GB could save the economy £3 billion#.
It’s not every day that we add a whale to our maps, but surveyor Shaun McGrath did recently…
I first became aware of the Colonsay Whale some time after a visit to the Isle of Colonsay in the Inner Hebrides last year, on a particularly fine day trip to carry out some survey work. It’s a long day as the ferry sets off around 9.30 am from Islay where I was working on detached duty and returns around 7.30 pm. I had plenty of time to get the survey work done and it left me a little spare time to explore the island’s fine sandy beaches before the return ferry. I visited Kiloran Bay in the north, as recommended by the occupants of a house I had surveyed earlier that day. They also said that there was an even finer beach further north, but it was only accessible by foot and would have added a couple of hours to my trip – and made me miss the ferry.
Our surveyors are usually local to the areas they survey and this was the case for Andy Caulfield when he was mapping the new Tadcaster Bridge. The bridge partially collapsed in the aftermath of the Boxing Day storms in 2015, impacting local residents and businesses for the next 14 months while repairs were carried out. Many, like Andy, will have seen an 11-mile detour added to their days and are welcoming the reopening of the bridge.
One of the joys of working for OS is that you get asked to give authoritative answers to all sorts of geographic questions. ‘Classic’ questions such as how long is the coastline of Great Britain? often crop up. Which, if you read our recent blog on which English county has the longest coastline, you’ll know isn’t as easy to answer as you might think. Often, seemingly simple questions have no definitive solution. For me that doesn’t matter. The joy comes from thinking through the problem to come up with the best answer possible.
The coastline question reminded me of a problem I tried to tackle myself last year. Listening to a news story on the radio, it described “27 million households across the country”. Over the next 48 hours the story was repeated across a broad selection of media outlets and every time the same statistic came up. After mulling on this for a while I decided I didn’t like this number. It’s too imprecise. So, I decided to delve a little further and try and work out a more accurate number for myself.
With news that Lover (Wiltshire) had created a pop-up Post Office for romantics to get their Valentine’s cards stamped ‘Posted at Lover’, is it now the most romantic place in Britain?
A quick search of our database reveals that the country is blossoming with plenty of places for budding romantics to confess their love on Valentine’s Day. We’ve mapped out some of our favourites in this OS OpenSpace map.
We’re heading to London on Friday to take part in a celebration of all things map, geo and cartographic at the British Library’s evening bash. And we’ve already blogged about the Tower of London being a former home to OS. Today we take a look at the staggering amount of change taking place in London, that our surveying team need to capture on foot and from the air.
Our surveyors and aircraft are constantly tracking the changing look of Britain and ensuring the 450 million geographic features in our database of the country are kept up to date. What do all the changes to London, its roads, its rail, its buildings look like over the last 10 years? Take a look in our video and find out: