26
Oct
2017
2

‘Digital Twin’ is the new ‘Smart City’

By Jeremy Morley, Chief Geospatial Scientist 

‘Digital Twin’ is the new ‘Smart City’. It’s a term that has little consensus on its meaning, but critical importance for those who understand its significance and role in a prosperous future for the UK.

Earlier this month, at the Digital Twin Data Challenge, we saw academics and professionals compete to create a digital model of Bristol: a virtual ‘echo’ or projection of the city, created in digital form.

The University of Manchester shown in the emerging 3D context model based on point clouds derived from aerial photography

This isn’t a new concept. From the interwoven narratives of Lewis Carroll’s “Sylvie and Bruno” in 1893, to the 1982 cult classic action of “TRON” bringing software programs to life in an abstract digital landscape, we can fast-forward to 1999 and see Neo ‘living’ in an almost perfect simulation of the real world in “The Matrix”. Dystopian? Perhaps. But that was nearly 30 years ago. Today, this notion of creating parallel worlds is more than a possibility. It’s a reality – and a necessity. Read More

12
Oct
2017
1

EarthSense Partnership Maps City Clean Air Cycle Routes

A project combining Ordnance Survey (OS) geospatial data with real-time air quality data from EarthSense Systems is set to highlight clean cycle routes in Britain’s cities.

Using a network of air pollution sensors, EarthSense is producing city-wide visualisations of air quality. Combined with OS’s open dataset of greenspaces, the EarthSense air quality models highlight areas of higher air pollution allowing users to identify cleaner air routes, such as through parks or along canal paths.

“By making it easy for cyclists to see pollution levels before they make their journey, we can help them make better decisions about their route,” commented Professor Roland Leigh, Technical Director of EarthSense. “This maximises the gain they are getting from the exercise whilst minimising their exposure to harmful pollution.” Read More

12
Oct
2017
0

Charity comedy gig to mark #NationalMapReadingWeek

We all know that getting outside for a walk is great for both our physical and mental well-being, but did you know that having a good belly-laugh can provide another boost to wellness? We’re supporting Solent Mind as our corporate charity, raising funds to support better mental health, so the prospect of a charity comedy gig with a map theme during #NationalMapReadingWeek was irresistible.

Comedy performer Helen Wood came to our attention this summer, when she was performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as Helen’s show explored one of her passions, OS maps. The eight performances of ‘The OS Map Fan Club’, were sold out at Edinburgh.

Helen is performing her solo show at our Southampton head office on Monday 16 October at 7pm. Space is limited, so booking is necessary, and attendees are asked to make a minimum donation of £5 on the night to gain access. To reserve your place email businesscentre@os.uk. Read More

9
Oct
2017
3

Bringing augmented reality to OS Maps

We’ve just launched the new augmented reality (AR) layer in our OS Maps app which uses your phone’s camera view to display over 200,000 locations across Great Britain. You can identify hills, lakes, settlements, transport hubs and woodland around you and on the horizon. It’s the first time we’ve made AR widely available, but not the first time we’ve used AR. Our Computer Scientist, Layla Gordon, leads the team that experiments with geospatial data and new technologies to create proof of concepts that are shared with partners. Find out about Layla’s work on OS Maps, and the AR projects that came before it.

It’s fantastic to see the OS Maps app AR layer released and being used. You simply point the camera of your Android or iOS device at the landscape and, using GPS and the compass, accurate points of interest that sit in that view will be highlighted.

Taking a look behind the scenes, I created it using Apple iOS Core Location and Core Motion framework. The app accesses the readings from Gyroscope and Accelorometer, to give the accuracy we need. It calls on the OS Placenames API to retrieve the OS populated places, which delivers points of interest within a set radius based on position and orientation. We’ve then set rules within the app to identify which points of interest to prioritise – as the screen could get cluttered with too many points.

If you haven’t tried it yet, take a look at https://www.os.uk/getoutside/AR. But while this is the first AR experience I’ve created which made it to public release, I’ve been working on AR projects for a couple of years. Read More

6
Oct
2017
1

Augmented Reality in the great outdoors

By Tim Newman, Consumer Product Manager

For over a decade, OS has been active in the field of augmented reality – proving the concept back in 2006 with a thought-leading paper on Mobile Augmented Reality, and more recently prototyping 3D maps of Mars, and creating a navigation app for a Shoreditch basement. We’re now really excited to be using this augmented reality technology to introduce a new feature for OS Maps.

The recently released AR feature will help users learn about their surroundings by labelling and categorising the features around them, finally overcoming the big limitation of maps on mobile: the small screen. Have you ever looked out over a stunning vista and found yourself struggling to identify a hill or work out how far it was to the town below you? Now you can simply hold up your smartphone to find out what you’re looking at and how far away it is. If a place catches your interest, just tap on the label to find out more about it.

This fun and informative new feature was made possible by combining sensor data from the phone with OS data of over 200,000 hills, mountains, coastal features, lakes, settlements, transport hubs and areas of woodland. As a company of data experts, it’s fantastically rewarding to make use of our data to help make the outdoors more enjoyable, accessible and safe. This is what motivates the team and, combined with the great feedback we get from users, drives us to continue improving OS Maps – so keep your eyes peeled for the next bunch of features we’re working on to make it easier than ever to plan your time outdoors. There’s never been a better time to open up OS Maps and GetOutside!

To find out more about AR head to https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/getoutside/ar/.

Stay tuned to the blog to learn from Layla Gordon in the tech labs team about how it works and the exciting projects that she’s developing with augmented reality.

5
Oct
2017
0

Britain’s top trig-bagger adds FBMs to his haul

Some of you may remember Rob Woodall, we shared his story in 2016 as he completed a 13-year mission to bag 6,190 trig pillars across Great Britain. Not content with that, Rob’s now added all 201 fundamental benchmarks (FBM – see photo below) to his haul. Rob fills us in on his challenge and talks about other OS survey marks he likes to bag along the way…

My first FBM was Wolsingham in lovely Weardale, in 2004. A group of us get together once a year, and that year the gathering was hosted by a couple who live in Wolsingham and they put together an itinerary which included trig pillars (my main interest at the time) and also mysterious things such as non-pillar flush brackets (NPFBs, which are FBs on structures other than pillars, such as houses, churches, bridges etc) – and the local fundamental benchmark. So I started ticking off NPFBs and FBMs too.

It’s taken 13 and a half years to bag 201 FBMs (including all but 6 of the destroyed ones – which I’ll get round to eventually) – coincidentally about the same time it took to bag 6,190 trig pillars – which is not great productivity.  However, the last two were Patrington (which we all thought was destroyed until it turned up in 2016 when the householder took out a big laurel tree in their garden) – and Windsor Castle which we all assumed was out of bounds. Eventually a friend sent off a letter to the Royal Collection Trust to see if we could visit the FBM, and the answer  was yes! – provided HRH was away at the time. So with no particular plan, I ended up finishing the list this year. Read More

2
Oct
2017
1

Beautiful new map of London – created to celebrate the outdoors

A stunning new map has been published by Urban Good showing London green spaces. The map of the capital shows over 3,000 parks, plus woodlands, playing fields, nature reserves, city farms, rivers, canals and all the spaces that contribute to London’s parkland. Some of the most iconic walks through and around London are drawn, such as the London Loop and Capital Ring, along with symbols marking places to swim outdoors, climb hills, pitch a tent or go kayaking.

The map was published on World Habitat Day (2 October) to mark the launch of the National Park City Foundation, a new charity established to help make the London National Park City a success. The folded paper map, from Urban Good, will be available to the public for free next year, with a limited public release this week.

The public can: Read More

2
Oct
2017
1

Mapping for Changing Reality

By Paul Naylor

The British Cartographic Society (BCS) and the Society of Cartographers (SoC) joint conference recently got underway at the Redworth Hall Hotel in Durham. After months of careful planning and organisation the stage was set for three days of inspirational presentations, hands-on workshops and the annual BCS/SoC awards ceremony.

Maps for Changing Reality 2017. Photo by Martin Lubikowski Read More