Buckled roads, collapsed buildings, destroyed power lines and trapped, injured and isolated civilians in desperate need of help.
That was the scenario played out across the country last week as part of Exercise Orion, an national disaster scenario designed to push the country’s emergency services to the very limit.
In the context of the imagined catastrophe, with a huge amount of information to process, understand and act upon, having a clear picture of the unfolding crisis was absolutely vital. That was why experts from Ordnance Survey were called upon to join the very heart of the operation and provide a geographic context to the unfolding events.
Four of our GI experts were deployed to command centres across the country in response to a call to our ‘Mapping For Emergencies’ hotline. They worked with the disaster management teams, providing them with an analysis on how the ‘earthquakes’ had impacted on electric, water and gas supplies, how the emergency services could be routed whilst avoiding impassable roads; and how best to evacuate civilians based on the location of the most vulnerable.
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?
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”.
With the summer holidays well underway, lots of us are looking forward to loading up the car and hitting the road.
But a survey we carried out of just over 2000 people reveals that while the children in the back seat are screaming “are we nearly there yet?” millions of us will be driving round in circles.
Our results show that two thirds of the population admit to regularly getting lost, a figure that soars to nearly eight out of ten in London, and that 38% of us Brits pretend to know where they are going even when we’ve got no idea!
We all know that maps are pretty useful things. A weekend adventure in the Lake District, the sat nav in your car and many of our public services all rely on using maps or Geographic Information (GI). Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote about how Cardiff City Council is using GI to save a healthy £1.3m by reorganising their bus routes.
But the other day I started thinking about some more unusual uses for maps – the wacky, the bizarre or the inspired. And I was reminded of someone who loved maps so much they had wallpapered their toilet with them! I’m sorry to say we can’t find any trace of them or their toilet (if that person was you, get in touch!) but it prompted me to ask ‘what are the most unusual uses for maps?’
So, we put the question to our wonderful twitter followers who came up with these fantastic examples of map decor and clothes. Can you think of any others?
Maps as clothes
This fetching OS Landranger Map shirt is modelled by Alan Parkinson, also known as @GeoBlogs
Our own example comes in the form of the now (in)famous OS MasterMap jacket and tie!
Maps as wallpaper
There has been a bit of media coverage around in the last couple of week about some research we’re supporting at Cardiff University. It’s called Peoples’ Place Names, and they’re studying what’s known as Vernacular Geography.
What I might think of as the East End of London, or Shirley in Southampton, might be completely different from the next person, or at least different in ways I don’t realise. And that can still be the case even when a place has official boundaries.
For people that live or work in these places, the boundaries are often a matter of strong and passionate opinion. Have you ever met someone who, upon selling their house, was adamant that they didn’t live in a particular part of town?
You might have read my blog on Wessex Archaeology’s finds at our new head office, describing the Bronze Age Farm that was once on our Southampton site…while chatting with the team, based on the outskirts of Salisbury, I discovered just how much they rely on our data, both on paper and in numerous electronic formats. Talking to Paul Cripps, Geomatics Manager at Wessex Archaeology (WA), I discover that their mapping interests run from historic mapping to OS OpenData and a whole range in between.
Much of WA’s work is spatial, finding out how things relate to each other. From historic buildings to excavations to the marine environment, mapping is fundamental to everything WA do. But they don’t just use it as a backdrop, they add information about their excavations and finds too and attach that to their mapping. I was surprised to find that the historic mapping is not only needed to understand change through time but to ensure the accurate interpretation of aerial photography amongst other things; it is not always easy to work out what is shown in an aerial photograph alone and the feature may not be shown on more modern maps, a second world war bunker on a disused airfield can look very similar to a Roman fort from the air!
Last week I wrote about an expedition to resurvey the height of Tryfan using modern GPS technology – the same technology the Ordnance Survey uses to map the country. Well, it was a great success and here is an account from John, Graham and Myrddyn. You can also watch an interview with our very own Mark Greaves on the BBC website.
The morning began dark and grey as we drove into the car park at Ogwen cottage, dark because it was just after 5am and grey because a fine drizzle had fallen on the valley.
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!
OS Explorer Maps – the beginning
The iconic OS Explorer Map, used daily by thousands of people from ramblers to rock climbers and named by the Design Council as an official millennium product, has a fascinating history. Did you know, for example, that it wasn’t until 2005 that the whole of Great Britain was covered, including remote areas of the Scottish Highlands?
1:25 000 was born
Simon Fitzgerald, CIFAS Programme & New Developments Manager, was very enthusiastic about the release of OS OpenData, and downloaded OS Street View, Boundary Line and Code Point Open for the London Boroughs as soon as the service went live. Using a freely available open source Geographic Information System, Simon set about loading elements of the fraud data that CIFAS collects from its Member organisations spread across the financial services sector and beyond.