If you tune into BBC World Service, you may have heard the series 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy.Tim Harford tells the fascinating stories of 50 inventions, ideas and innovations which have helped create the economic world. The series asked for nominations on the 51st thing and Miranda Sharp, our Head of Smart Cities Practice, suggested GNSS (the Global Navigation Satellite System which encompasses GPS, the US’ Global Positioning System, amongst others). It made it to the shortlist and is open for votes until 6 October. Miranda explains why she nominated GNSS – and why you should vote for it!
I gobbled up Tim Harford’s latest series 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy. Tales of female emancipation wrapped up in TV dinners, tackling corruption through the technology of M-Pesa and enabling rapid transfer of ideas in an urban economy with the advent of the elevator. Listen to them all, buy the book, they are brilliant stories.
This week marks 80 years since the trig pillar was first used in the retriangulation of Great Britain on 18 April 1936. We’ve been celebrating by sharing the story of the humble trig pillar, and giving you the chance to join our celebrations with The Trig Pillar Trail Challenge. But if the trig pillar is now obsolete – just how do we survey Great Britain today?
Life after the trig pillar
Talking about the 79th anniversary of the trig pillar this month has sparked a flood of reactions. Lots of our lovely followers on social media sent us pictures of them (or their dogs) with our trig pillars around Britain. Others expressed delight that they now know what those odd concrete pillars were for. Some wanted to adopt a trig pillar if we no longer used them (sorry, not something we offer). Still more people were amazed that we no longer use the vast majority of trig pillars and asked us what we use instead. The answer to that is OS Net.
Mark Greaves is our resident Geodetic Analyst
OS Net is Ordnance Survey’s network of permanent, high accuracy GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) receivers (see Tiree station below). A GNSS is a satellite system that is used to pinpoint the geographic location of a user’s receiver anywhere in the world. For OS Net, its day to day operation is to supply a stream of real time GNSS data covering the whole country. The data streams enable the correction of GNSS errors to be computed in real time and, when transmitted to our surveyors, allow them to coordinate new map features to an accuracy of just a few centimetres using RTK (Real Time Kinematic) GNSS.
OS Net data is not all about positioning. Another lesser known use is that it helps the Met Office predict the weather. Met Office scientist Dr Jonathan Jones explains…
What is ‘space weather’? Well this generally means solar flares – or as you might have heard on the news recently – coronal mass ejections to give them their full title!
Solar flares are related to sunspot activity which tends to run in 11 year cycles. We’re now entering the period where sunspot activity is increasing to amaximum for the current cycle. On Tuesday there was a big flare – the biggest for 4 years – whilst tonight those of you in Scotland might even get to see the Northern Lights as a result, so keep your eyes on the skies!
So what’s all this got to do with mapping?