The beast from the east dominated headlines this month, with snow causing traffic issues, school closures and disruption across the country. In Cumbria, the depth of the snow and challenging terrain resulted in significant issues accessing some communities. Cumbria’s multi-agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (SCG), made up of partner agencies, secured military assistance to help access the most isolated communities, many of which had been cut off from all supplies for five days. We were asked to assist the SCG under Mapping for Emergencies (MFE).
One of our technical consultants, Kevin Topping, knows the power of geospatial in these situations only too well. Since joining OS last autumn, Kevin has been working with local resilience teams across England and Wales, showing how geospatial data can help in emergency planning. He ensures that authorities are aware of the data available under the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) and how to best make use of it, including calling for extra assistance from OS under MFE.
By Andrew Cooling and Steve Kingston, OS
The Office for National Statistics (ONS), have begun the delivery of a Great Britain-wide natural capital accounting project, gathering insights on urban green spaces and their effect on our social and economic well-being. We’ve been working with ONS on the project, along with Defra, with our GI Consultant Steve Kingston being seconded to the ONS team to provide geospatial analytical support.
The project started with a pilot in the Greater Manchester area, which delivered at the end of 2017. The pilot helped shape the methodology to deliver two parts of the urban ecosystem accounts, estimates of the extent of green space and blue space in urban areas and estimates of the services provided by this nature, such as filtering air pollution and recreational opportunity.
The urban accounts offer a coherent way of looking at the value of green space in urban areas across Britain. The project aims to help both the private and public sectors to value and monitor the extent and condition of nature in the urban environment and recognise the services it provided. The accounts will aid policy makers in prioritising investment and making informed decisions.
The Timepix historic photo site launches today and makes a unique set of photos from OS’ history available online for the first time. Over 21,000 photos catalogue the Manchester streets between the 1940s and 1960s, giving a unique insight into the city’s past captured by OS surveyors. From children and animals photobombing the surveyors, to a background of vintage adverts, Timepix showcases a fascinating collection of photos around Greater Manchester.
Why were OS surveyors photographing Manchester?
OS surveyors took revision point (RP) photos across Britain to provide a network of surveyed locations. These known spots could then be used to ‘control’ the position of detail on a large scale map. RPs were often on corners of buildings and other immovable features, and were fixed to centimetre accuracy. Finding the RPs for future map updates was an issue, and photography quickly became the best visual reference – leading to thousands of photos of men with white arrows…
Guest blog by Egbe Manners, GI Consultant
One of my colleagues loves online shopping, so, when she moved to a new flat and her favourite home delivery services couldn’t find her address, she was frustrated. Increasingly having a successful delivery to her flat is becoming a differentiator to which online retailer she chooses. Is she expecting too much from online retailers?
Luckily, working at Ordnance Survey (OS), I know a bit about address data. I understand some of the challenges facing retailers to keep customer address data updated. It takes time, investment, and effort to maintain their mailing lists. However, it is worth the effort.
Having access to over 29.6 million addresses in Postal Address File (PAF) from Royal Mail, is a good starting point. However, finding those households within a building that has been divided could prove trickier. But this is made easier with the 12 million additional addresses that OS source from Britain’s local authorities.
While the world enjoyed the action at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, we were just as interested in what was happening away from the ice and snow. Namely the first large-scale 5G pilot service.
For critics it served as a marketing ploy for KT Group, South Korea’s largest telecom, who promoted the event as the first “5G Olympic Games in the world.”
For us though, the games with its driverless buses, immersive broadcasting, 360-degree instant replays and zooming, as well as the opening ceremony’s spectacular 5G-enabled peace dove, the trial seemed like a fun way of introducing the next generation of wireless communications to a wider audience.
However, the surface has yet to be scratched on what 5G can truly deliver to help improve our lives. It’s very much in its infancy, but already we see how more and more devices are increasing their worth to us with services that require reliable Internet connectivity. Even the humble doorbell has received a tech makeover. You can now see and speak to whoever is at your door, no matter where you are on the planet. Imagine one day a surgeon in one area of the country performing vital surgery somewhere else through a 5G-enabled robot. 5G will help the Internet cope with this increase in demand.
In 1899, the Head of the US Patents Office, Charles H. Duell, famously declared: “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”
Then came the 20th century, the age of mass invention. Nearly 120 years on and, in this context, you sense that 5G is the start of something extraordinary. With some even stating it will: enable the future – accelerating innovation and growing the economy. Exciting stuff for everyone, you’d think. But it’s not that Mr Duell was wrong in 1899, though he was, he just demonstrates how fallible we all are when it comes to imagining the future.
If Mr Duell, a man surrounded by invention and America’s brightest minds couldn’t see computers, microchips, moon rockets and the Internet coming – to name just a few of the 20th century’s stunning breakthroughs that would have bent his head – then what chance do the rest of us have in explaining what the 5G future will be or look like? Except to say: It’s what you make it.
5G and OS
One thing that we know with certainty, and we write about this in two government-funded reports published today, is that the most cost effective and simplest way for the UK to adopt 5G is through the creation of a ‘Digital Twin’.
A short while ago, my wife received two seemingly identical catalogues in the post from a well-known online fashion retailer. Both were addressed to our home, but the catalogues differed in two respects. Firstly, one was labelled using her maiden name, whilst the other used her married surname. The second difference was more interesting. The first catalogue promised a 30% reduction on all purchases as a loyal customer reward. The second catalogue promised a 20% reduction. This told me two important things: (1) my wife spends more with this retailer since we married; (2) the retailer in question has no master data management (MDM) strategy for addresses.
By Katerina Harrington, Relationship Manager, OSGB
With an increased focus on house building across the country, how can we monitor the changes to the landscape of Great Britain? Government has pledged to enable the building of 300,000 new homes a year, to counteract the short fall of homes in this country. But they’ve also promised to protect the greenbelt and build more homes on brownfield land. How can we ensure our green spaces are being protected? Do we know how many homes are built on brownfield land vs greenspace or on the green belt? How can we monitor land change?
Land classification from Ordnance Survey (OS) data provides a way of monitoring the changes to the natural and built environment. Information about land cover and land use is a key part of the planning process. It’s used as a benchmark of current investments and can reveal patterns to inform regional planning. Planners may use land change patterns as part of an environmental conservation or sustainability project, or to predicted future housing requirements.
In fact, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) use OS land change information. It aids the analysis and monitoring of change in the number of homes built on the green belt, flood risk areas and previously developed land (brownfield).
We were hugely proud of our Geovation alumni Refill last week. Refill encourages businesses to allow thirsty passers-by to fill up their water bottles for free and their scheme is being rolled-out across England. And the good news created a splash of national headlines!
We’ve all heard about the issue of single-use plastic bottles and Refill, backed by industry body Water UK expect to cut usage by tens of millions bottles a year. All 15 water companies in England support the expansion of the scheme, which originated in Bristol.
You can use Refill’s app to find water stations and public fountains, or through window signs pointing people in the direction of the nearest one. Whitbread (owner of Costa Coffee and Premier Inn), has already signed up and will allow you to refill your bottles with drinking water in all branches from March 2018.
What’s in a name? Do you know where to find your Nuncle Dicks or your Deadman’s Head? Here’s half a million reasons why OS is helping the Coastguards save lives.
A distress call comes in. HM Coastguard swings in to action, time is of the essence, but the chances that the caller has a grid reference, post code, road name or the official title of a landmark is by no means certain. However the caller might well know the local nickname or vernacular for the location and when that information can be accessed immediately, then vital minutes could be cut off the time to save lives.
We’ve been working in partnership with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) using a technology which has helped Coastguard teams with more than 20,000 call outs last year alone.
A map is a graphical visualisation of the world around us and is made up using a variety of symbols to help us represent that geography.
Maps use symbols to label real-life features and make the maps clearer. With so many features on a map, there would not be enough space to label everything with text.
Symbols can be small pictures, letters, lines or coloured areas to show features like campsites, pubs or bus stations. If you look closely at a map, you will see that it is covered in symbols.