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


Carto Design to GeoDataViz: An evolution

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the work of our Cartographic Designers. The team have been posting a variety of articles here since 2013 from reviews of events to sharing helpful resources. The team recently made some changes to the way in which they work and the work that they undertake, including a name change; from Cartographic Design to GeoDataViz.

In this post the team will consider some of the reasons why, and what the changes mean for them, their work and our customers.

This visualisation, which we created in June 2016, was the trigger for us to review our team and led to the changes that we have made subsequently. It was the first time that we had published a geographic visualisation that doesn’t contain any topographic data. We simply plotted the GPS data using colour techniques that help represent the density. This method is much more abstract (possibly considered as more art than science) than our traditional topographic maps but we felt it gave us a more engaging and visually stunning visualisation. Read More


Custom Made Britain

Yes, there are 607 OS paper maps of Great Britain for you to choose from, but did you know there are also infinite Custom Made maps you can order? Tens of thousands of you have already put your Custom Made map orders in, creating enough map areas to cover the moon three times, an amazing 111.5 million km2 of Britain printed on your maps.

This shows Custom Made map orders a week at a time since February 2012, with the centre points coloured based on the map type: Orange = OS Explorer, Pink = OS Landranger.  Read More


#CartoClinic – how can we help?

We held the first #CartoClinic at #DataMash at our head office recently. Over the two days we engaged with over 100 people discussing cartography, geography, data visualisation and more.

CartoClinic is a simple way to get in touch and get help whether you are having problems with your GI or concerns with your cartography. Made up of Paul Naylor and Charley Glynn from our GeoDataViz team, we can also call on industry experts from both within OS and from our extensive external network. Read More


Premier League map art

The 2016/17 English Football Premier League season is over and what a great season it has been.

Chelsea are champions for the sixth time while Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hull have been relegated. Tottenham Hotspur say a fond farewell to White Hart Lane after 118 years and finish the season in second. West Ham started life at the London Stadium and finished the season in a respectable 11th place.

To mark the end of the season, the GeoDataViz team have created a one-off visual of all 20 locations for each of the Premier League stadiums. Each of the stadiums have been mapped using OS Open-Map Local and styled using the team colours.

Have a look for your favourite team below in the final league table or view and download a poster of all 20 stadium locations.

The 2016/17 Premier League Table

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Introducing visual deconstructions

Taking visualisations apart to understand how they were made

Have you ever looked at a map (or any data visualisation for that matter) and thought, I wonder how that was made? If so, then a new concept that we’re calling visual deconstructions, could help.

What is a visual deconstruction?

A visual deconstruction is a concept that our GeoDataViz team have created, allowing them to record the styling rules for a given data visualisation. It is made up of a title, a description, a url where relevant, keyword tags, an image, plus the draw order and styling information for each layer of data from which it is compiled.

It is a form of documentation that allows you to quickly reference and recreate styling rules, as well as being able to share it clearly with others. It is also a great way to learn how something is made and therefore is a useful tool for someone designing their own visualisation.

For a better idea, here is a minified version of what a visual deconstruction looks like:

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How to map a new country?

Update: DVD released on 24 July 2017. We have one copy of the DVD to give away. Just retweet this message by 12 noon on Friday 28 July: https://twitter.com/OrdnanceSurvey/status/889486114536476674

March 24 sees the UK film release of Lost City of Z. It chronicles the South American adventures of British explorer, cartographer and archaeologist Lt Colonel Percy Fawcett. I joined a panel discussion in London last week, along with historian Dan Snow and Lost City of Z author David Grann, discussing how Percy would have explored and mapped a new land. Catch up on the podcast here.

Dan, David and Mark

A member of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), Percy Fawcett first arrived in South American in 1906 to survey and map an area of jungle lying on the Brazil and Bolivian border. The border between the two countries was not fully mapped and it was agreed that an RGS survey and map would be accepted as an impartial representation of the border. Today we would complete this activity using satellite systems and sophisticated surveying technology, which obviously wasn’t available back then. So, how would Percy and his team have gone about making maps? Read More


Carto tips: Using blend modes and opacity levels

Colour is one of the main graphic elements that a cartographer uses to make their map clear to read. Amongst other things we use colour to create familiarity, to differentiate features and to create a clear visual hierarchy. There are many things we can do to the features on our maps to change their appearance and many techniques we can apply to adjust the colours. Adjusting opacity levels and applying blend modes are the two techniques that we will explore in this post and we will look at some examples of how we can use them together to create effective visualisations.


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Mapping showcase at the British Library

Indoor AR

Indoor AR

We’re excited to be taking part in an evening event at the British Library with our London Geovation Hub colleagues. On Friday 10 February from 7.30 pm, the Library is hosting an eclectic evening dedicated to maps, atlases and all things curiously cartographic, set to a live soundtrack by special guest DJ Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne.

We’re part of a digital and analogue showcase of all things maps. Come along to see the team demo our work in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) mapping and see how indoor mapping can benefit us all.

Our Flying Unhit as you haven't seen them before - come along to find out about an exciting new craft  project going up for auction

Our Flying Unit as you haven’t seen them before – come along to find out about an exciting new craft project going up for auction

Our cartography team will be talking about crowdsourcing and giving you a hands-on chance to show us what you would like to see on the London map.  How would you draw a map to direct a friend? What landmarks or buildings do you navigate by? What names (or nicknames) for areas or buildings would form part of your directions? Come along to share your views about maps of the future.


Plus, you’ll be able to colour in our giant floor map and we’ll be unveiling a crafty project before opening it up for auction.  Read More

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