18
Feb
2011
0

Why ‘space weather’ is bad news for map making

What is ‘space weather’? Well this generally means solar flares – or as you might have heard on the news recently – coronal mass ejections to give them their full title!

Solar flares are related to sunspot activity which tends to run in 11 year cycles. We’re now entering the period where sunspot activity is increasing to amaximum for the current cycle. On Tuesday there was a big flare – the biggest for 4 years – whilst tonight those of you in Scotland might even get to see the Northern Lights as a result, so keep your eyes on the skies!

Solar flares

A solar flare

So what’s all this got to do with mapping?

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18
Feb
2011
0

Focus on Cartography – part one

Mention a cartographer and people will think of someone who draws maps. Well, it’s obvious isn’t it? Having spent a few hours talking to various members of our Cartography team though, I’m actually amazed at the breadth of areas they cover. So, if you’ve already read our ‘day in the life of a surveyor’ blogs, read on to find out what happens once that surveyed data gets inside the building.

Our Cartography team, which is really lots of separate teams with different specialisms, is led by Huw, and they are responsible for deriving and maintaining cartographic databases, and providing the finished data for Ordnance Survey national series paper and data products. They do this through the manipulation and enhancement of our core databases. But as well as this ‘core’ work, they work on lots of other projects from specialist maps to innovative work on the effects of colour vision deficiency on mapping.

Explorer team

Sandy leads the Explorer team. Unsurprisingly, they work on the design, editing and updating of databases for our very popular 1:25 000 OS Explorer Map. The team also work on the data for our OS Select bespoke product where customers can centre a map on an area of their choice and on our digital product, 1:25 000 Scale Colour Raster.

One of the team at work

One of the team at work

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9
Feb
2011
0

Britain’s romantic place names

Over the last few months we’ve looked at spooky place names, we’ve looked at festive place names and we’ve even written about ‘alternative’ place names. But with love in the air at this time of year, it’s about time we revealed Britain’s most romantic place names.

A quick search of our place name gazetteer reveals that the country is blossoming with plenty of places for budding romantics to confess their love on Valentine’s Day.

Ahhhhhhh

Ahhhhhhh

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1
Feb
2011
0

Mapping in emergencies

In recent years we’ve seen geography underpin the response to a range of different national and regional emergencies ranging from flooding and terrorism to pandemic flu – all of which have endangered parts of our critical infrastructure. Whatever the emergency, given the myriad of differing organisations involved, geography is really the only way of quickly visualising information in a consistent and integrated way.

Through the use of GI based emergency planning tools, Bristol City Council has reduced the amount of time it takes to produce analysis and reports of relevant geographic data from 6 hours to just 20 minutes. This huge improvement supports those involved in the response effort, providing rapid access to data on which to base decisions and will essentially speed up response times and help save lives.

Visualising flooding

Visualising flooding using OS MasterMap

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21
Jan
2011
0

A day in the life of…Digital Products Supply Centre

When many people think of Ordnance Survey, they think of the lovely OS Explorer and OS Landranger maps. However, the vast majority of mapping, or data, that we send out to customers is actually on CD, DVD or hard drive. Last year we shipped 38 terabytes of data – or approximately 39,874,560 MB. These were produced on six robots and give our customers access to our OS MasterMap products and many more. The team responsible for producing the customer digital data orders and sending them out are the DPSC team and I caught up with Kelly Callawayto find out about a typical day in the life…

00.01 – OK, so we don’t start just after midnight but, on the first of every month, at this time our SAP system will start to create update orders for our robots. In fact, both our fulfilment systems run 24/7 and our robot, the Microtech XL Express with an 800 disk capacity, means that we can support unattended running even over the longest holiday.

Some of our robots in the DPSC

Some of our robots in the DPSC

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20
Jan
2011
0

How the recession transformed the high street

In an article from the latest issue of Intelligence magazine for the land and property market, Guy Grainger, Head of Retail at Jones Lang LaSalle, gives his views on how shopping habits will change and the importance of location of stores for retailers in the current environment.

High street retailers face an epic battle next year, with consumer spending under pressure and competition from out-of-town parks and supermarkets. When Sir Philip Green announced that he would close up to 300 regional stores operated by his Arcadia brand, it was interpreted as another threat to the vibrancy of the UK high street.

Woolworths was just one victim of the recession

High street Woolworths stores were just one victim of the recession

“This is a very common theme,” says Grainger. “It gets in the press because it’s Philip Green, but really it could be any other retailer out there.” HMV and Game Group are two he names as walking away from less profitable regional stores when leases come to an end. The result? Rising vacancies in the high streets and shopping centres of affected towns.

“London and the South East are proving to be very robust in the downturn, but the regional picture is not nice to see,’ he says. ‘The locations that retailers choose to walk away from could be areas of high unemployment, or high streets that are overshadowed by a large out-of-town retail destination or food store,” he adds.

“Spend has shifted from the high street to somewhere else. The supermarkets are the real powerhouses; they are all expanding, and they sell more non-food lines than ever before.”

What our data shows

By comparing the number of retail addresses across Britain today with the amount in October 2008 (just after the collapse of Lehman Brothers), we can see that:

Estate agencies are down by an average of 9.2%. Our data shows that the North West and Waleswere hit hardest, with numbers of estate agency offices falling far more than the national average at 15.4 %. The South East (down by 14.8%) and West Midlands (down by 11%) also suffered significant falls.

Intelligence

Intelligence

Building societies are down by 28.2%. London suffered the biggest fall, with the amount of building society offices decreasing by 46.9%. Meanwhile, the South East, Scotland and North West were also hit hard, experiencing drops of 33.8%, 33.7% and 30.1% respectively.

The number of auction houses across the UK have fallen by 14%, whilst the amount of employment agencies on the high street has shrunk by 13.4%

In comparison, one of the only types of outlet on the high street to increase in number were bookies, which opened in 280 new locations, reflecting a jump of more than 5%.

[Picture innpictime via Flickr]

14
Jan
2011
0

To infinity and beyond…with food waste

What do River Cottage and the Royal Air Force have in common with us at Ordnance Survey? The A700 Rocket composter.

Huw and Gwen from Tidy Planet came in recently to do some training for our new industrial composter, so in the future we’ll be composting all our food waste. At our ‘tea points’ around the building there are compost bins and any food waste from our Restaurant will also be included. Before you know it, all our waste will become lovely compost to spread onto our grounds at Adanac Park.

The A700 Rocket composter - image courtesy of Tidy Planet

The A700 Rocket composter – image courtesy of Tidy Planet

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6
Jan
2011
0

Changes to the OS OpenData licence

opendata2From today, anyone who visits the OS OpenData site, where they can download a wide range of Ordnance Survey mapping for free, will notice something a little different.

That’s because we’ve incorporated the Open Government Licence, the new government wide licence, developed by The National Archives, which enables easy access to public sector information.

The Open Government Licence is a key element of the Government’s commitment to greater transparency. It is the licence used by data.gov.uk and provides a single set of terms and conditions for anyone wishing to use or license freely available government information.

The licence is designed so that developers and entrepreneurs wishing to use government data to create new applications will no longer need to formally apply for permission. And, the new licence is interoperable with other internationally recognised licensing models, such as Creative Commons.

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