16
Mar
2011

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

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.

Read More

4
Mar
2011

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

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

Read More

23
Feb
2011

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.

Read More

18
Feb
2011

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?

Read More

18
Feb
2011

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

Read More

9
Feb
2011

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

Read More