3D maps for your apps

We have been publishing building heights for a while now, but did you know they just got even easier to access and even easier to build into your web applications?

With the release of OS Vector Tile API and OS Features API, you can access detailed OS MasterMap Topography Layer buildings in new ways – and the height attributes are ready to be used!

Image: OS Vector Tile API with MasterMap buildings extruded to their roof heights.

OS Vector Tile API with MasterMap buildings extruded to their roof heights.

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LEGO cartography

As a self-proclaimed outdoor enthusiast, it’s no surprise our guest blogger Dan Harris is a Forward Planning Manager at the Cairngorms National Park Authority. In his spare time, he used our data to create a 3D LEGO map and in doing so, enthused many Twitter users. Here, he tells us about the project…

LEGO is an extremely engaging medium that can generate great enthusiasm in almost any subject, whether the audience is young or old. There are hundreds of examples of its use to promote subjects such as history, philosophy, economics, science and more, so I wanted to bring it to the world of cartography and use it to inspire engagement with mapping, landscape and place.

I’ve always really liked the way 3D relief maps can quickly and often dramatically convey the geography of an area. They’re popular and inspiring so to me, LEGO seemed like the ideal material from which to make my own; and where better to make one for than Scotland? With its mountains, islands and intricate coastline, it seemed to me to be the ideal subject. Plus, I live there and if it’s going to be displayed in my house, I want it to mean something to me.

One of my main objectives was to make the map using open data, so OS’s open datasets were an obvious solution. While I did consider other options, I decided that OS Terrain 50 DTM best suited my needs. To be fair, OS Terrain 50 is total excessive for a model of the resolution I had planned, but I wanted to use it so that in future I could create more detailed maps without having to process loads of new data. My map also includes a part of Northern Ireland, so I used the ALOS World 30m DSM to fill in that gap. Watercourses data came from the OS Open Zoomstack dataset, which is a great source of open data. Read More


OS Maps has a new 3D fly-through feature

Keswick Mountain Festival trail run.

Following the Easter indulgence, we’re releasing a new feature for OS Maps – the 3D fly-through. Perfect for planning GetOutside adventures with your friends and family or for justifying your chocolate consumption (just us?), you can visualise your whole route before you start your trip.

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Creating 3D data for Countryfile

If you tuned in to BBC’s Countryfile on Sunday, you’ll have seen Roger Nock from our Flying Unit talking to Adam Henson at his Cotswold farm. We were talking about how the aerial imagery we fly in our planes has been used to map hedgerows for the Rural Payments Agency, and help work out subsidies for farmers. We showed an example of how 3D data can be captured and displayed over Adam’s farm.

After the programme, we received a tweet asking where the LiDAR camera was in our plane. The answer is simply that we don’t fly LiDAR (3D laser scanning of the ground) and our planes are surveying aerial imagery (taking a photo with a high-resolution camera on-board the plane). We are treating this imagery in a similar way to how others would work with LiDAR data though.

3D mesh of Adam’s farm, with attributes attached to the data

So, what were you seeing on Countryfile?

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3D streaming

At last, serving huge quantities of 3D geospatial data into interactive user applications is getting easier and more accessible. Support for ‘3D streaming’ is gaining a foothold within popular geospatial applications, paving the way for data providers to present their own 3D data assets in ways that users will find natural and accessible. For us at OS, this is a development that we’re very excited about, as we believe it will be a powerful tool in helping to unlock the potential of geospatial 3D data.

For many people, Google Earth (launched in 2005) was their first experience of navigating a ‘digital globe’ – a tool that is typically supported by ‘streaming’ technology. Overwhelming volumes of geospatial information were clearly available, yet how had it got there? Although Google Earth was then only available as a downloadable app, it was clear that the data was being sourced quite independently. For many of us, this served as our introduction to ‘3D streaming’ – the ability to selectively deliver content, based upon real-time navigation, within a 3D scene. Read More


See a 3D map of London at The Building Centre

We blogged about the fab 3D map of London on display at MIPIM back in March. Now, the New London Architecture (NLA) team’s huge model map has come back home to London and you can go and see it. The New London Model was built by Pipers, with data supplied by us at OS, using a combination of laser-cutting, 3-D printing and hand-crafting.

The New London Model is 12.5 metres long

The New London Model is 12.5 metres long

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Unveiled today – London like you’ve never seen it before – thanks to an OS treasure trove

Guest blog by David Roberts, Ordnance Survey’s Land and Property Strategic Relationship Manager 

The tens of thousands of pieces of geographical data and knowledge about London, which OS capture every year, have been brought to life in a unique way. The largest ever model of London, commissioned by New London Architecture and sponsored by OS, has been unveiled today on the London Stand at MIPIM, the annual get together of the most influential international property players in the world in the most elegant of French locations – Cannes.

Model pictured at Pipers' Ashford offices

Model pictured at Pipers’ Ashford offices

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