When I wrote about ‘Why you need an address master data management strategy’, I highlighted how organisations could gain better control of the address data they hold. There are many reasons why you would want to do this; better addresses can streamline operations, reduce errors and waste and even lead to new business opportunities.
For many organisations, their main activity is reliant on location, which is often expressed as an address. A delivery company needs to find an address to deliver goods; a mortgage lender wants to value the property found there; a utility company needs to deliver underground services there; an insurer wants to know the risks surrounding it. An address by itself cannot tell you any of this, but it can be used to unlock other location data.
Organisations who want to gain advantage by using location data should take a structured approach and start by creating a location data strategy. In this two-part article, I’ll explain the steps you need to take to get started.
Our Media team were recently asked to confirm whether Essex was the English county with the longest coastline. That should be easy enough, right? We have some very talented geographic information (GI) analysts at OS and a database containing over 450 million features across Great Britain. But it’s not actually that simple. The length of the coastline can be a very contentious fact. Here’s why.
Firstly, the length of the coastline changes on a daily basis. With changing tides across the days and during the seasons, we get a higher tide or a lower tidal point – which affects any measurement on the length of coastline.
Hands up if you were the lucky recipient of a copy of The Great British Colouring Map this Christmas? Or if you decided to treat yourself to a spot of mappy colouring in? We’ve loved seeing some of you sharing your photos on Twitter and Instagram of your pristine new books, and of progress as you get started with the colouring. And it gave us an idea for a competition…
Looking ahead to New Year’s Resolutions for 2017? Trying to decide how to work off those Christmas calories? How about walking? Getting outside and walking in Britain is free, easy and accessible to most of us.
We’ve already seen 2016 prove to be a big year for the outdoor enthusiast with the nation either donning their running shoes or walking boots to #GetOutside.
With the year coming to an end we’ve taken a look back at the most popular destinations searched by walkers on our popular OS Maps online service. An amazing 1.4 million destination searches were carried out via our online version of OS Maps in 2016. So, where were people hoping to explore?
It has to be said, we do love seeing inventive ideas for old maps. It’s sacrilege to some, but old maps can be cut up for a whole range of different arts and craft uses. We’ve seen some brilliant uses recently on Instagram and thought we’d share our favourite five with you.
1. Christmas crafts
I’m sure we all love a mappy paper chain, but @sevarina took map Christmas decorations to a whole new level. Combining origami skills with some festive fairy lights to create a really personal Christmas decoration. Just make sure they’re not too close to the bulb if you try this at home.
The lights themselves. 20 origami waterbombs made out of an OS map of Edinburgh and the surrounding areas, then each one placed over a bulb on a string of fairy lights. Took quite a few hours to put together, but the end result is something both pretty and personal. #origami #origamiart #paperfolding #paperart #crafting #crafty #homemade #creative #fairylights #lights #bedroomdecor #decoration #maps #osmaps #Edinburgh #eastlothian #northberwick
2. Framed map prints
A lovely idea to highlight a place that is personal to you. Cut out an area you love, and box-frame it. Good for a first wedding anniversary too!
3. Mappy pets
The second in our new series of blogs from the teams behind our apps, maps and services, sharing their experiences in software engineering, cartographic design, user experience and more. Chris Hall, based at our London Geovation Hub, shares his experience on updating OS Maps’ route ratings.
Whilst I was using our OS Maps app to find a new route, I stumbled upon a frustrating experience with the route discovery process in OS Maps. Through some research and visual exploration, I was able to solve the problem.
OS Maps allows users to find and follow routes all over the country. Users can plot their own routes, and share them with the community publicly. To aid the discovery process we allow users to grade their route out of three options to reflect its difficulty. Routes are currently displayed as a pin on the map with a gradient indicator: Green for leisurely; orange for moderate; and red for challenging. This has created a great spread of the types of routes we get in the app, which for the most part works really well. However, one day I discovered this route:
The first in a new series of blogs from the teams behind many of our apps, maps and services, sharing their experiences in software engineering, cartographic design, user experience and more. We start with a tale of collaboration, a rapid feedback process and pies!
It’s never good to be faced with a new problem deep into a project, but it is very satisfying when an effective solution is developed swiftly. During a recent app development sprint, one of our software engineers hit upon one such problem.
The app in question allows the user to select a group of properties which are rendered as point features on the map. Following standard web map convention, these points are aggregated, or clustered, as the user zooms out. This is to make the map more legible and to improve performance; it saves rendering potentially thousands of points in a single map view. Clustering is a fantastic and much-used technique in web mapping applications. Lots of effort has been put into developing slick clustering behaviour and designing effective markers. It works perfectly well if your points are all representing the same phenomena – and that’s where we ran into a problem.
The app we’re developing splits the point features into four discrete categories, therefore, if we apply standard clustering behaviour, we are effectively grouping these categories into one and hiding a level of information from the user. The user will still see a total value to show how many points are aggregated into each cluster – but in this instance they are also interested in how that total is split amongst the four categories.
Cue an informal meeting between software engineer, cartographic designer and UX designer; a mini brainstorm…
Really helpful to find out more of what will happen at the Geovation Camp and how the Challenge application process works. It was also great to bounce ideas off other people and network with them.
The workshop schedule was great and I learned a lot!
Our 10th Geovation Challenge has launched – ‘How can we better manage underground assets in Britain?’ We’re looking for innovative ideas to help solve the problems in the underground utility space, which offer lucrative business opportunities.
To support understanding around this Challenge, to help build your confidence to enter, and to encourage collaboration among those interested in tackling this challenge area, we’re running a national tour of workshops.
Our graduate recruitment scheme for 2017 launched this month and we’re looking for graduates who want to change the world. Our Consultant Data Scientists will have the chance to get stuck into what we do, right away. We think that’s more important than sitting in training courses.
You’ll get exposure to all parts of the business, working with different teams to get to know what we do, how we do it and who our customers are. We’ll get you started on the most interesting projects, and give you the space to innovate and deliver to make a real difference.
You may be surprised at the wide range of projects we’ve worked on. Take a look at these five examples to gain an insight into OS and the work we do.
1. We’re making Oculus Rift games
We created a virtual reality Ben Nevis; Britain’s highest mountain, and gamified it for Oculus Rift, and Google Cardboard. Not content with turning OS data into a Minecraft world (see more below), our OS Labs team created a virtual Ben Nevis to explore on Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard. In Oculus Rift, our developers created a game where players race against the clock to find a hidden trig pillar. For those without access to Oculus Rift, our dev team built a virtual reality tour of Ben Nevis. You can try it out on iOS and Android along with Google Cardboard to experience the virtual reality 3D affect.
Over the last few months, Geovation has worked with the utility industry to identify their biggest challenges in managing our underground assets. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an innovator or a developer we’re now inviting you to come up with solutions to tackle these real-world problems using location data.
As a result of consultations with senior figures from utility companies, the owners of underground pipe and cable networks, and those responsible for their maintenance, 55 problem areas have been brought to the surface. These have been grouped into 4 themes: Asset Location, Asset Management & Maintenance, Stakeholder Impact and Predicting Asset Future.
It is thought that through improved asset management and operations and the digitisation of records, production could be increased by 15% and profitability by 20-30%. Also revealed was the value of sharing data between utility companies and innovators to effectively resolve problems.