‘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


First public view of work towards UK GEMINI 2.3

Do you use GEMINI? See the latest version and send your feedback on the new approach. Peter Parslow, our open standards lead and chair of the AGI Standards Committee explains more.

AGI has long-maintained UK GEMINI, a guide to creating metadata for geospatial resources. Local authorities and major data publishers like ourselves, ONS, BGS, Defra all use GEMINI to describe our products – datasets and services. These records are then collated automatically to data.gov.uk, and on the European INSPIRE portal. The records in data.gov.uk can also be accessed directly from within desktop GIS tools like Arc Desktop and QGIS, by using the OGC Catalogue Server interface, and by other tools by using the CKAN API described at https://data.gov.uk/data/metadata-api-docs. There’s ongoing work in Europe to integrate this approach more with mainstream web search engines – at present, it is a bit ‘geo specialist’! Read More


Have you entered the AGI Awards yet?

AGI Awards imageWith just under a month until the deadline (30 September 2014), there is still time to submit your entry to the AGI’s prestigious annual awards ceremony recognising the very best achievements in the field of Geographic Information throughout the year. This year sees a new format and ten new awards showcasing high impact projects, innovation and commitment to the GI industry and in GI Education.

Along with Ordnance Survey, other key industry players such as ESRI, 1spatial, Informed Solutions and GIStandards are sponsoring awards to help recognise excellence, innovation and best practice within the sector.

Ordnance Survey is delighted to be sponsoring the AGI Award for the Best Use of Geospatial for Business Benefit and we are looking forward to seeing entries illustrating how geospatial has become a core tool in the business arena helping to improve decision making, making cost savings and support efficiencies. With this award, we hope that examples of geospatial being used as a mainstream business tool to deliver intelligence can lead the way for future business and economic growth. Read More


Global Geospatial Event launches

A brand new global geospatial event is taking place in London next week and as you might expect Ordnance Survey are going to be there.

Over 2,000 people with interests in gathering, storing, processing and delivering geospatial information from the international geospatial industry are expected to attend some of the conference sessions, workshops and free exhibition.

GeoBusiness 2014 is taking place at the Business Design Centre in London over 2 days (28/29 May) and there is a packed conference programme with around 50 speakers including presentations by our acting Director General Neil Ackroyd talking about Innovation and beyond as well as Dr John Goodwin talking about Linked Data and Debbie Wilson sharing our experience of working internationally.

The exhibition features more than 80 free product and service workshops attending-workshops/ from a range of companies including one on how OS OpenData and geospatial information are driving innovation and supporting business growth.

Those attending the exhibition will learn how the content in the Gazetteer of Great Britain can be used to search for settlements, roads and postcodes as well as hear about our new thinking about improvements to OS Street View.

We will also be running special Land and Property sessions on our stand, so if you’d like to hear the latest on BIM or asset management, do drop along to the stand to say hello!

To find out more and to register, visit http://geobusinessshow.com



UK Interoperability Assessment Plugfest – call for participation

We’re working with the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), with the support of the Association for Geographic Information (AGI), to lead the first of a series of events called the United Kingdom Interoperability Assessment Plugfest (UKIAP) 2013.

What exactly is a Plugfest?

According to Wikipedia, a Plugfest (sometimes written as PlugFest) is an event around a certain standard where the designers of software test the interoperability of their products to other vendors.

The purpose of this Plugfest is to advance the interoperability of geospatial products and services based on OGC standards within the UK geospatial information (GI) community.  Specifically, four OGC standards will be tested, namely Geography Markup Language (GML), Web Map Service (WMS), Web Map Tile Service (WMTS) and Web Feature Service (WFS).

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Welcome to GeoCom and FOSS4G

Maptember is continuing in style this week with both the AGI Annual Conference – AGI GeoCommunity ’13: Open for Business and FOSS4G taking place in Nottingham.

It’s the 7th year of the AGI GeoCommunity conference and this year’s theme is ‘Open for Business’ which perfectly reflects our initiatives for OS OpenData and OS OpenSpace – as well as our future product innovations through the OS Insight programme. If you’re at the event, pop by our stand or come along to one of our presentations. We’ll be talking about linked data and open source as well as our Director General and CEO, Vanessa Lawrence, presenting at the opening plenary.

If you can’t make it to our stand, do check your conference pack for our OS Insider newsletter to bring you up to date on all of our new products and services this year. If you haven’t made it to the conference, check it out here instead.

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Welcome to Maptember!

This September is busy time for those of us in the world of mapping and with so many mapping related conferences planned, we’ve renamed the month ‘Maptember’.

It kicked off with the Society of Cartographers Annual Summer School Conference during the first few days of September with a jam-packed programme full of interesting topics including mapping the railways and climate change resiliance mapping.

Then the British Cartographic Society, celebrating their 50th anniversary held their Annual Symposium titled ‘Mapping 2013 – Today, Tomorrow and Beyond…’

Our Director General and Chief Executive Vanessa Lawrence delivered an interesting keynote presentation charting the history of Ordnance Survey and the role of cartography moving into the future and the special 50th anniversary event included presentations from the heads of each of the five British mapping and charting agencies.

Then the week ended with State of the Map – the conference of OpenStreetMap, the project to make and distribute free geographic data for the world. This year SOtM was being held in Birmingham, in the heart of the country and Peter ter Haar, our Products and Innovation Director delivered a presentation called ‘Lessons from the crowd: How to be truly authoritative’.

Hot on it’s heels is the AGI Annual Conference – AGI GeoCommunity ’13: Open for Business – which will be held in Nottingham on the 16th to 18th September 2013.

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What I’m expecting in 2012….

A guest post by Chris Holcroft, Director and CEO of Association for Geographic Information (AGI)

Well, we all saw it. It was only hours into the New Year before political leaders and media pundits started to talk down the prospects for economic success stories in 2012. Questions like will the Euro still exist in the same form in 12 months time? Will the UK avoid a double-dip recession? Or even closer to home, can Open Data really drive innovation?

It is against this sort of “these are bigger problems than just the two of us’” backdrop that I’m asked to pen a few words pondering developments in the year ahead for the geocommunity. But rather than speculate about which geo-start-ups may strike gold, which markets are up and which are down, and the landscape of where new entrants will go for digital mapping to power their web applications, I think it is time to get back to basics.

Over a decade ago I wrote a long-forgotten magazine article about the role of Ordnance Survey as I then saw it. Fast forward to 2012 I think my fundamental point still rings true. Back then I likened Ordnance Survey to a utility and its digital mapping data to ‘energy’ or ‘fuel’ for the myriad applications that need to understand the ‘where’ question and all that follows from it. Yes, I know this is an over simplification from some perspectives, but this analogy does make a point.

Over a decade ago it was a different landscape from today. For example, pricing and licencing for Ordnance Survey products was in a different place (as it was for a lot of PSI); OS OpenData did not exist. Neither did initiatives like Geovation. Additionally procurement agreements were fragmented; there was nothing as cross cutting as the PSMA. Beyond Ordnance Survey, Google Earth was yet to emerge and so was Steve Coast’s OpenStreetMap. SatNav was well established, but it was still a few years from becoming a ubiquitous consumer item you could buy in Tesco’s. Web GIS was already there, but not as diversely applied or such a consumer of cloud sourced data or a driver of consumer level interest as it is today. I could go on…

The point I’d like to make however, is that at this time of really fundamental economic difficulties we need to stay bullish about 1) the genuinely high value that geographic information and its associated technologies offer to the economy and its growth, but also be realistic in recognising that 2) we don’t hold the key to this exclusively. So going back to my analogy, Geographic Information remains a vital fuel for economic growth, but all the other components and processes in the engine (and the vehicle it is bolted on to) need to have synergy to function well and get us to where we need to go.

The good news is that what I’m seeing develop (and will continue in the years ahead) is geographic information from a variety of sources that constitutes an ever increasingly ‘high-octane mix’.

Happy New Year to all.


Catch up on this week’s GeoCommunity Conference

The Association of Geographic Information (AGI) GeoCommunity Conference is taking place this week with good attendance from key players in the geographic industry. Organised around the theme of ‘placing ourselves in the new economy’ and based at a new venue in Nottingham, the very varied and interesting conference programme has led to packed rooms and a real buzz around the event.

Interestingly, a good overall view of GeoCommunity can be found on Twitter using the #geocom hashtag where comments have been fairly forthcoming.  Read More