As we’re sure you know from your own experience of lockdown, the availability of greenspaces has become even more important throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. With our comprehensive data, we’ve been able to support work identifying them for business and government use as well as for the public to ensure they can get outside safely.
A recent report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that one in eight households (12%) in Great Britain has no access to a private or shared garden during the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown. ONS used our map data to work towards their conclusions, one of many organisations who have contacted us for assistance during the pandemic.
Our Mapping for Emergencies (MfE) service supports the resilience community and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year giving quick access to reactive geospatial support at any time. ONS put in a request for data to help understand how access to greenspace and outdoor gardens may impact Covid infections and to highlight areas with limited outdoor access.
Back in July, we announced the addition of OS Open Greenspace to Esri’s ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. We added this dataset to test how the data is received and to gather feedback from users who access it via Living Atlas.
This decision is part of a trial which will enable us to understand if this integration has made it easier for users to optimise the value of OS data and if it solved any previous barriers. Ultimately, we want to know if it’s of value to our existing users and whether it encouraged new users of open geospatial data.
What is OS Open Greenspace?
In short, it is a dataset that shows every publicly accessible recreational and leisure greenspace in Great Britain and is of huge interest for analysis and as a means of promoting the benefits of getting outside.
On 28 June 2019, NHS Lothian, Edinburgh & Lothian’s Health Foundation and greenspace scotland published Scotland’s first health board-led Green Health Strategy.
What is the Green Health Strategy?
The Green Health Strategy aims to fully realise the potential of the NHS outdoor estate and community greenspaces as a community health asset benefiting patients, visitors, staff and communities. It covers a range of Green Health activities as well as greening the NHS outdoor estate and encouraging access to greenspace close to where people live – find out more.
The ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World is the foremost collection of geographic information from around the globe. It includes maps, apps, and data layers from Esri’s authoritative community and the wider GIS world. A global audience accesses Esri’s curated set of data, which allows users to combine these multiple datasets with their own data to create new maps and applications. We’ve added OS Open Greenspace to test how the data is received and are keen for feedback from users who access it via Living Atlas.
Why was OS Open Greenspace selected?
We first got involved with Fields in Trust in the run up to the publication of OS Open Greenspace, our dataset of greenspaces in urban and rural areas and including parks, playing fields and sports grounds.
Fields in Trust is an independent charity that champions and supports parks and green spaces in the UK by protecting them for people to enjoy endlessly.
The Green Space Index has enabled Fields in Trust to take stock and analyse publicly accessible local park and green space provision within Great Britain (around 216,000 ha) for the first time. It has been created to support their evidence-led approach calling for parks and green spaces to be revalued for the benefits they contribute to society and protected for future generations to enjoy.
It follows on from their Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces research in 2018 which demonstrated that these green spaces across the UK provide people with over £34 billion of health and wellbeing benefits. Additionally, this product offers the charity a baseline, so future iterations of our greenspace data will enable them to track trends in provision and population over time.
The Understanding Scottish Places (USP) platform launched in April 2015, offering a way of understanding the similarity of places across Scotland. The tool contains a range of demographic, social and economic data on all 479 Scottish settlements with a population of over 1,000 people. Deliberately designed to avoid a simplistic ranking of places as better or worse, USP focuses on the shared characteristics of towns.
Following positive feedback on the GeoPackage format trial, where many of you asked us for a greater choice of formats, we made a commitment to make our data more accessible, interoperable and quicker to use.
On 10 April we released these four OS OpenData products in GeoPackage format, in addition to their existing formats:
- OS Open Greenspace
- OS VectorMap District
- OS Terrain 50
- Code-Point Open
The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that this list is longer than we originally announced. We hope to continue expanding the number of products available in additional formats.
By Katerina Harrington, Public Sector Relationship Manager
The expanding population of Great Britain brings certain challenges for local authorities. Large cities have become accustomed to rapid growth and increasingly dense living situations, but across the country, other councils are facing pressure to adapt to a rising populace.
Residential property development has plateaued since the 1970s which has led to house prices rising steadily with exceptional spikes in places such as London. Location data can paint a more accurate picture of Britain’s changing landscape by demonstrating trends that differ locally and enabling a greater understanding of how to prepare our infrastructure for a more densely–populated future.
To help local authorities to prepare, the government has set housing targets, to encourage councils to prioritise the development of new and affordable housing.
By Andrew Cooling, Strategic Development Manager (Government Relationships Team)
There’s a growing body of research showing a connection between greenspaces and human health and wellbeing.
So much so, areas of green – including parks, public gardens and open spaces – are now a key consideration in the design and structure of towns, cities and communities.
Research into this field comes from all sectors, including social, medical, transport, recreation, housing and planning.
One independent study by land management charity The Land Trust looked at the value of greenspaces and their impact on society. The Value of Greenspaces report reveals that they play a positive part in 90% of people’s wellbeing. Those living near these spaces felt more encouraged to stay fit and healthy, and believed that green areas helped make their communities more desirable (leading to economic uplift).
Greenspaces also improve air quality, reduce the likelihood of flooding, mitigate climate change and are havens for wildlife.
‘Green space should be accessible to as many people as possible. People are more likely to visit green space if they do not have to travel far to reach it, and the most frequent visitors report the greatest benefits to their mental wellbeing.’
There are economic benefits, too. According to the Office for National Statistics’ Natural Capital Accounts, the value associated with living near a green space is estimated to be just over £130 billion in the UK.
With this in mind, further research has been happening in the geospatial arena. What kind of greenspace? Where exactly is it? And how accessible? More insight is being applied to greenspaces to make them more ‘quantifiable’.