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’.
Last Spring, you may remember we embarked on a formats trial which saw nine of our products trialled in up to five new formats. Hundreds of you got involved and we were so grateful to receive lots of useful feedback on what worked for you and what didn’t.
Utilising the feedback from this trial, we started to look more widely at our product formats. When we released our new version of VectorMap Local in October last year, we made changes to our fulfilment processes to enable us to offer this in GeoPackage as well as GML and Raster formats to give you more choice. We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of our customers using GeoPackage so we’re delighted to know we are moving in the right direction.
By Andrew Cooling and Steve Kingston, OS
The Office for National Statistics (ONS), have begun the delivery of a Great Britain-wide natural capital accounting project, gathering insights on urban green spaces and their effect on our social and economic well-being. We’ve been working with ONS on the project, along with Defra, with our GI Consultant Steve Kingston being seconded to the ONS team to provide geospatial analytical support.
The project started with a pilot in the Greater Manchester area, which delivered at the end of 2017. The pilot helped shape the methodology to deliver two parts of the urban ecosystem accounts, estimates of the extent of green space and blue space in urban areas and estimates of the services provided by this nature, such as filtering air pollution and recreational opportunity.
The urban accounts offer a coherent way of looking at the value of green space in urban areas across Britain. The project aims to help both the private and public sectors to value and monitor the extent and condition of nature in the urban environment and recognise the services it provided. The accounts will aid policy makers in prioritising investment and making informed decisions.
If you’re working in the geo industry, you may have heard about Nautoguide and their product Geovey. The former Geovation Challenge winners have expanded from mapping the Battle of Jutland to working with local government and even supplying a feedback service for our OS Open Greenspace product. Dave Barter from Nautoguide tells their story.
We’ve been working closely with OS recently as we won a public tender to supply feedback services for OS Open Greenspace, which launched in 2016. This challenging project saw us work with OS’ brand, design ethos and data requirements to build a feedback system in under two months. This is now live and operational in 19 local authorities and 5 OS field offices with new organisations added each week, and helping OS update OS Open Greenspace.
This is a huge step onwards from winning a £29,000 grant through OS’ Geovation Challenge on “Helping people to live in better places”. For this we conceived Geovey, a mapping platform designed for public engagement, crowdsourcing, consultation and richer citizen involvement. To our delight we were invited to pitch our idea to the Geovation judges and eventually won the grant, along with mentoring and support from OS.
A project combining Ordnance Survey (OS) geospatial data with real-time air quality data from EarthSense Systems is set to highlight clean cycle routes in Britain’s cities.
Using a network of air pollution sensors, EarthSense is producing city-wide visualisations of air quality. Combined with OS’s open dataset of greenspaces, the EarthSense air quality models highlight areas of higher air pollution allowing users to identify cleaner air routes, such as through parks or along canal paths.
“By making it easy for cyclists to see pollution levels before they make their journey, we can help them make better decisions about their route,” commented Professor Roland Leigh, Technical Director of EarthSense. “This maximises the gain they are getting from the exercise whilst minimising their exposure to harmful pollution.”
National Allotment Week kicked off yesterday, celebrating the hard work that volunteers, councils and organisations put in on all of the sites across the country. To mark the week, allotment groups are opening their gates and holding barbecues, plant and produce sales, allotment tours, competitions and exhibitions, coffee mornings and afternoon teas – many of them raising funds to support local charities.
Allotments are a fantastic way to #GetOutside and enjoy some fresh air, meet new people, and grow your own fruit and vegetables. The National Allotment Society say that 30 minutes of gardening on your allotment can burn around 150 calories, the same as doing low impact aerobics. Plus, allotments provide essential habitats for wildlife. Just 1 square metre of land can support hundreds of different species.
Did you know?
OS Open Greenspace launches today, becoming the latest free product available as OS OpenData. The new open dataset will help communities, businesses and developers to create products and services that will encourage healthier and greener lifestyles.
A Government initiative to make it easier for people to locate and access greenspaces launched with the release of our open dataset and maps every publicly accessible recreational and leisure greenspace in Great Britain.
You can access the data, covering all of Britain’s urban greenspaces, through our OS OpenData download page. OS Open Greenspace contains data from us and other sources, and you can also see it immediately through our free OS Maps service and app.