1
Apr
2011
0

Your thoughts on one year of OS OpenData

opendata2It’s one year to the day that we launched OS OpenData and made a range of mapping data and administrative geography available for free for the first time.

You can read our news release to get our take on the past 12 months, but I really wanted to know what you think. Has OS OpenData lived up the hype? Are you using it, and if so what for? We’ve shared some of the applications we’ve come across on the blog, like the award winning DataTap, but what impact do you think it’s had?

To get the ball rolling, I asked a few people in and around the world of geo to share their thoughts on what has been a pretty interesting year…

Chris Holcroft, Director and Chief Executive of AGI:

“The launch of OS OpenData was a big shift in Ordnance Survey digital data supply and a positive one. Stimulated by significant changes in public data policy, it was a reflection of how Ordnance Survey evolves to serve the world within it operates. A far greater community of innovators and users can now access, exploit and benefit from geographic information output from the National Mapping Agency.

“Can I put figures to any economic stimulus and innovation this has created? At this point, no. That said, I’ve met many organisations, some outside the traditional heartland of GI, now positively taking the opportunity to use Ordnance Survey data for the first time.

“We will look to the next 12 months to see how the story develops.”

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25
Mar
2011
0

Moving the Osmington White Horse

With the weather taking a turn for the better, it sometimes feels like a real treat to spend a day working out of the office – much as I love our new building! Yesterday I was invited along to spend some time in the beautiful Dorset countryside working with a team from ITV West Country who were filming the work taking place on the Osmington White Horse.

The Osmington White Horse

The Osmington White Horse

The 200-year-old Weymouth monument to King George III on horseback is being renovated and returned to its original position and outline. It’s a story that has generated lots of interest among local people and ITV’s Duncan Sleighthome was keen to find out more for a local news programme.

The Osmington White Horse Society has been working on the renovation of the figure for over a year with help from Natural England and local Army and Navy units. However, Ordnance Survey and English Heritage have now been involved to make sure the outline positioning is as true to the original as possible.

The carving which is 280 feet long and 320 feet high originally took three months to complete. Although from a distance it doesn’t look that big, when you actually get up close – it’s huge and I’m not sure the photographs really do it justice! However, the integrity of the monument has been threatened with weed, scrub and weathering – not surprising really given it’s on a really steep hill and the wind blows a gale up there – even on a lovely spring day.


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17
Mar
2011
0

OS VectorMap District graduates to beta release

opendata2It won’t have escaped the notice of some of you that we’re rapidly approaching the first birthday of OS OpenData (has it really been a whole year?!) So with that in mind, we’re very pleased to be able to announce that OS VectorMap District has graduated from an alpha to a beta release and is now available to download and order.

Consider it an early birthday gift from us, to you.

OS VectorMap District made its debut as part of OS OpenData last year, designed specifically for displaying third part information on the web (like our Blitz map last year), and when in its vector format, as a customisable backdrop map. It was an alpha release and by no means the finished article, so based on your feedback the new beta version boasts new content and a range of improvements.

What’s new? Read More

16
Mar
2011
0

Trouble with Web Map Builder?

GeoDoctor

The GeoDoctor

In this post I’m going to focus on a particular developer issue around the use of our Web Map Builder. Questions have arisen around what you do with the code you get when you press the ‘Collect code’ button in ‘Step 4 – Generate and save code’. You are actually given a fully formed HTML document.

This is fantastic if all you want is a blank page with a map in it.

For that all I would need to do is:

1. Select all the code

2. Copy the code into a text editor, such as Notepad.

3. Save it as <name>.html, such as mymap.html.

4. Put it on my webserver

You will hopefully have something that looks like this: Read More

9
Mar
2011
0

The science behind GI and mapping

Ever wondered what a career in geography could lead to? A special guest post by Tom Bramald from Newcastle University, reveals all…

“A few years ago, I was sitting talking with a group of friends about why we had chosen our particular degree courses and it pretty much boiled down to this: “I just loved looking at maps and wanted to know how they are put together”.

Geomatics!

“Our “confession” made, we went on to talk about how we had spent hours poring over Ordnance Survey maps and atlases, and in some cases had even sketched our own maps of where we lived and played.Nowadays, apps, web sites and tools such as Google Earth, Where’s the Path?, OS OpenSpace, StreetView, even the in-car sat-nav, bring GI and mapping ever closer to us.

“But what is it that allows the Ordnance Survey map to be made, Google Earth to be browsed and the sat-nav to know where it is going?

“The answer is a science called geomatics.

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4
Mar
2011
0

Cartography – from past to present

Following on from last week’s article on the wide range of work our cartographers cover, we started thinking about how cartography has changed over the years. We have a number of team members who have recently moved to our new head office at Adanac Park, and have also worked at our previous two Southampton bases, at Romsey Road and London Road, spanning more than 40 years. I caught up with John to find out a bit more… if you have any memories about cartography at Ordnance Survey, let us know.

“My time at Ordnance Survey started with a training course on 25 January 1966 with me earning the princely sum of £446 per annum. After a few weeks we moved from to the training drawing sections at London Road. The building had been caught in the blitz in 1941 and was a shadow of its former self. At this point in time it still felt like a military organisation with military personnel occupying all of the top management positions.

Cartographer applying building stipple film to one of the original enamel positives. There is a surveyor's BJ plate by her left elbow, and a ruling pen. Applying building stipple like this was eventually replaced by cutting the buildings out of a 'cut and strip' mask to match what had been scribed.

Cartographer applying building stipple film to one of the original enamel positives. There is a surveyor’s BJ plate by her left elbow, and a ruling pen. Applying building stipple like this was eventually replaced by cutting the buildings out of a ‘cut and strip’ mask to match what had been scribed.

My cartography skills started with the ruling pen. We would draw a 7/1000 inch gauge line in black ink onto enamel. We were working on enamel coated zinc plates on which an image of the surveyor’s work had been printed in a light blue aniline die, at 1:1 250 map scale. Map symbols and text were added to the enamel and the finished article was used to make the printing plate At that point the zinc plate would be stripped of the old enamel image and re-enamelled to be used again.  Read More

25
Feb
2011
0

Focus on Cartography – part two

If you missed last week’s blog, catch up now before finding out a little more about what goes on behind the scenes in our Cartography teams…

My next stop was with Jim in Landplan. His team of 20 are responsible for the revision and update of the 1:10 000 database. This covers OS Landplan, 1:10 000 Scale Colour Raster and 1:10 000 Scale Black and White Raster, OS Street View and more recently, OS VectorMap Local.

Jim told me that the Landplan vector editing system was developed in-house during the mid 1990s. The capture programme started in September 1996 and the 10 587 tiles in the initial database were completed in 2001. It was the first production system in Ordnance Survey to use auto generalising algorithms to do Cartographic generalising for a derived product.

One of the Landplan team at work

One of the Landplan team at work

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23
Feb
2011
0

Bringing the power of Open Data to the citizen

Transparency is high on the political agenda these days.

As you’ll be aware, the coalition government has made serious commitments to change the culture in the public sector from one where data are hoarded in-house to one where they are open by default.

Public sector organisations of all stripes from the biggest government departments to the smallest local authorities are starting to publish datasets on a wide range of topics such as the salaries of senior officers, the details of local schools, or even the service requests received by the customer services department.

The data isn’t always well-formatted or easy to process, nor is it always given out with a happy heart, but it’ there.

However, while great strides have been made in making data available, less progress has been made in making it meaningful to a wider public. Let’s face it, while there’s a lot of a talk about “armchair auditors” downloading reams of data and spending endless nights combing through them in Excel, most people aren’t going to know what to do with a raw CSV file or even care enough to try.

Opendata in government

In Arcus, we have been working with the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead to address this. Jointly, we have created a solution called DataTAP, which makes it easy for the authority to publish open data from internal systems and make it useful to the average resident.

The site allows users to visualise a range of local government data.

The site allows users to visualise a range of local government data.

In a nutshell, the solution has an agent sitting inside the Council’s IT infrastructure that extracts and transforms the data into a publishable format. The data is then transferred to our infrastructure on the Cloud and made available to the public in a variety of formats.

This includes the usual downloadable CSVs and XML, but more importantly we add the ability to instantly visualise the data in a variety of formats including tables, charts, KPIs, and notably in this contexts heat maps based on the OS OpenSpace API.

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