How the British Army use OS NGD API - Features for battlefield training

High fidelity mapping, creates immersive battlefield simulations, which are key to army training.

2 minute read
To immerse soldiers in accurate and realistic ‘mission scenarios’, the 47 Regiment of the British Army is pioneering high fidelity mapping to create realistic training scenarios.

Soldiers in 47 Regiment are innovative, adaptable, and work in a highly skilled aviation environment. They are trained in roles including as pilots of the Watchkeeper Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), to provide intelligence for commanders across the British Army.

During exercises, operators enter a virtual battlespace in 3D. This immersive training environment is created using data from the OS National Geospatial Database (OS NGD), which contains the most detailed information of Britain’s landscape.

The simulation platform includes the buildings, roads, surface and elevation data via an API providing an automated basemap for the training area

The training team have found the Ordnance Survey maps visually pleasing and engaging compared to other mapping providers, which has helped their teams get absorbed into the tactical environment. Using accurate location data in the simulation helps achieve a lot of army training objectives.

These objectives are enabled by the work at Defence Geographic Centre (DGC), part of the National Centre for Geospatial Intelligence (NCGI). DGC’s mission is to deliver geographical information, to support Defence objectives. The NCGI facilitate the data supply from Ordnance Survey to where it’s needed.

The OS NGD API Features is a core infrastructure for developing location-based applications, including turn-by-turn navigation. It enables anyone to explore their geodata, as well as providing rich mapping and visualisation capabilities.

It is a flexible solution that allows clients to tailor the information in their simulations to meet their needs and can be used with third-party applications and games.

The Ministry of Defence is able to use OS data and expert help under the Public Sector Geospatial Agreement (PSGA) license, which includes expert technical consultancy and support.

"We found OS data to be extremely useful and saved us time by using the API to build out maps that would normally be done manually. "

Staff Sergeant Stuart Brauninger, 74 Battery (The Battle Axe Company), 47 Regiment Royal Artillery, British Army.
Watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicle on the tarmac

Watchkeeper is an uncrewed aircraft system with a range of intelligence and reconnaissance cameras and sensors, including a state-of-the-art surveillance radar.  It lets the Army see things up to 200km away and helps keep troops safe.


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Ordnance Survey
By Ordnance Survey

Our highly accurate geospatial data and printed maps help individuals, governments and companies to understand the world, both in Britain and overseas.

Products and solutions featured in this blog

  • OS Maps API

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  • OS MasterMap Topography Layer

    A map dataset of Great Britain's landscape – from roads to fields, to buildings and trees, fences, paths and more.

  • OS Names API

    A geographic directory with basic information on identifiable places. Find the closest location to a given point through the API.

  • OS NGD API – Features

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  • OS NGD API – Tiles

    Create beautiful, responsive, and interactive vector maps powered by the OS National Geographic Database (OS NGD).

  • OS Vector Tile API

    A vector tile service providing detailed Ordnance Survey data as a customisable basemap.

  • OS Places API

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  • OS Features API

    An API to filter Ordnance Survey data for buildings, roads, rivers, hospitals, playing fields, greenspaces.