Bringing the OS Data Hub to desktop GIS

As the Technical Director at Cadcorp, Martin Daly has written this week’s #OSDeveloper guest blog to share his experience of the new OS Data Hub and desktop GIS…

At Cadcorp, we have, for the best part of 30 years, endeavoured to ensure that our Cadcorp SIS – Spatial Information System® suite of GIS software supports all of the wide variety of Ordnance Survey data products, in all of the wide variety of data supply formats, in as simple and effective a way as possible.

We’ve worked very hard over those years to allow end-users to, for example, drag-and drop file-based data in the format supplied by OS. That capability began all the way back with Land-Line NTF in the 1990s:

Land-Line NTF screenshot

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Using Ordnance Survey’s world-class Leisure maps in your app

Update: 1 July 2020, OS APIs now live and available via our OS Data Hub, sign up here

Our OS Explorer Maps and OS Landranger Maps are iconic, and so are their digital counterparts! 1:25 000 Scale Colour Raster and 1:50 000 Scale Colour Raster can be downloaded as georeferenced image files for use on commercial terms – and they’re also available via API.

These maps have enjoyed a successful transition from paper to digital, and you can easily integrate them into your GIS, web and mobile applications. Alongside 1: 2500 000 Scale Colour Raster and Miniscale, they form part of our Leisure style which is available via our new OS Maps API. Read More


Volunteering with MapAction

Based in the UK with a band of 70 or so volunteers and a handful of permanent staff, MapAction is an international disaster mapping charity working to ensure humanitarian responders have access to the maps and data they need to save lives and relieve suffering. 

MapAction has received long term support from the OS since 2006. In addition to donations, OS also allows employees who are MapAction volunteers to take 10 days volunteer leave. 

OS and MapAction have also worked closely on influencing the international agenda at the UNGGIM (United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management), successfully lobbying for the availability of crucial geospatial data in the aftermath of a humanitarian disaster. 

Having just been presented with MapAction’s Volunteer of the Year 2019 award by founder David Spackman, OS employee Steve Hurst shares his volunteering experience…

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Using maps in the public sector

We work closely with a wide range of public sector organisations across England, Wales and Scotland and help organisations to reduce time, save money and be more efficient in the delivery of public services. Today’s guest post is from Steve Campbell, GIS Manager at the Borough of Poole, explaining why geographic data is at the heart of his work.  


I am passionate about maps, even working in a local authority, it never ceases to amaze me that there is wealth of data in the public sector that has an element of geographic reference which can be located on a map. So it may not come as a surprised to you that geographical data is at the heart of the creation and delivery of many public services today. Our everyday working and home environment provides lots of data that can help a local authority to prioritise their services; for example for profiling waste refuge collection points, traffic management during rush hour road congestion and reporting a faulty streetlight. It was this passion for mapping data and seeing how these results inform decision making that lead me to volunteer to become chair of Public Sector Mapping Agreement User Representative Group. Read More


What is GIS?

We have an excellent help and support section on our website to advise you on Ordnance Survey map products, map facts, maps and symbols for emergencies and getting the most from our online mapshop. A question we’re often asked is ‘what is GIS?’ and there’s a whole section dedicated to that too. Find out the basics here and visit the website to dig deeper into the subject.


Put simply, a GIS is a geographical information system, and to make that system work, you need maps and some software. We are one of many organisations producing map data for use in GIS. There are many more companies who then produce GIS software. Read More


All things open at Ordnance Survey – using open source GIS

Last week we presented at the fourth Open Source GIS conference at the Nottingham Geospatial Institute, University of Nottingham. The annual conference provides a platform for people from across government, academia, industry and open source communities to network and share ideas for future collaborative work in open source, open standards and open data geospatial technologies.

So…for the benefit of those of us that aren’t sure what open source is, well, it is often described as being a way of working that allows the source code for software applications to be made freely and openly available, encouraging a public and collaborative approach to the ongoing development and enhancement of the software. This ensures that everybody can contribute to, and benefit from, these developments.

Image: Nottingham Geospatial Institute, University of Nottingham

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Geography underpinning the digital switchover

The digital television switchover has been a massive undertaking from both a logistical and public engagement perspective.

Making sure the 60-odd million television sets in the country are set up with the correct equipment and the conversion of 1,160 TV transmitters has been a task of herculean proportions. And to help tackle this challenge, the BBC has been making extensive use of geographic information.

There are around 50 separate switching dates, and at every step the coverage of TV services has changed as new frequencies come on, old ones go off, and the pattern of interference between sites varies. At every stage the BBC has had to calculate the transmitter coverage to make sure people could still pick up a signal.

They did this by firstly divided the country into 100-metre grid squares and through the use of ADDRESS-POINT data, which pinpoints the location of residential, business and public postal addresses, the BBC were able to identify which of those areas were populated.

From there it was a case of plotting the location of each transmitter and through the use of a digital terrain model, which maps the physical shape of the landscape; they were able to calculate the likely coverage. This involved taking into account the transmitter location, its height, the shape of the landscape and any obstructions or ‘ground clutter’ such as trees and buildings – they even took into account the affect of typical weather conditions!

A series of calculations then enabled them to identify the amount of signal someone would receive from the best placed transmitter, as well as the amount of interference.

And it’s all thanks to that work that when you or I check the Digital UK website, you’re able to see when your area will switchover and what you need to do to be ready.

The switchover started in 2007 and is on track to be completed next year – partly due to the usefulness of geographic information.

Something to ponder when you next curl up in front of the box…


Lake District National Park – relying on geography

This week we're celebrating 60 years of the Lake District National Park.

This week we’re celebrating 60 years of the Lake District National Park.

This week we’re celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Lake District National Park. Today we’re looking at the national park authority and how they rely on Ordnance Survey mapping data. Today we’re talking to Rosemary Long who is a GIS Officer for the Lake District National Park (LDNP). Rosemary has worked for LDNP for over ten years but has been in her current role since March 2011.

What’s a typical day like for you Rosemary?
No two days here are ever the same in the GIS team. The one constant thing that we have to deal with though is location. When we need to show someone where something is in the Lake District the best way is to show them on a map – and the best maps of the Lake District are Ordnance Survey ones. Read More