Maintaining national coverage of paper maps in Great Britain – commitment from Ordnance Survey

You may have read articles in the media recently which reported that Ordnance Survey is to end its policy of routinely producing maps that cover the whole country. This is simply not true.

We would like to stress that this statement is wholly inaccurate and that we are committed to maintaining a national series of paper maps for both OS Explorer and OS Landranger maps. Paper maps are used by millions of outdoor enthusiasts every year enabling people to explore and enjoy Great Britain. Our paper products remain an important part of Ordnance Survey with nearly 2 million sold over the last year. Users will continue to be able to purchase paper maps covering the whole of Great Britain from many outlets, including our own online Map Shop. Read More


Raster styling: A grey area?

Over the last couple of years we have been developing and applying our new corporate map styles which provide visual consistency to our portfolio of digital maps. These new styles have been applied to our OS VectorMap products and stylesheets are supplied for our vector products.

We have developed a full colour style and a backdrop style, with the latter being designed for contextual basemaps that facilitate data overlays. We have applied an element of colour science to ensure that all map features take their place within a clear visual hierarchy whereby the features deemed most important will be perceived first. This means that if you convert our raster products to greyscale, the visual hierarchy is still maintained. 1:10000 TILE SK54SE

OS VectorMap Local backdrop colour raster converted to greyscale: The visual hierarchy is maintained

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Why are maps still so powerful? BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival

We were delighted to have been invited along to participate in BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival last weekend at Sage Gateshead.

Sage Gateshead is an iconic building, which opened in 2004, on the south bank of the River Tyne and hosts a range of musical education workshops, performances and conferences. It was a fitting venue to some of the country’s leading thinkers over a weekend which promised provocative debate, new ideas, music and performance.

Sage Gateshead Photo credit Mark Savag

Sage Gateshead Photo credit Mark Savag

Our Director General Vanessa Lawrence was invited to be on the panel for a session entitled ‘Why are maps still so powerful?’ along with author and academic Jerry Brotton – author of ‘A History of the World in 12 Maps’. Presented by BBC’s Rana Mitter, the radio interview was recorded in front of a live audience of around 200 map users.

Discussions are recorded for BBC Radio 3 and broadcast over the next three weeks or available to download.

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Digital Shoreditch festival 2013 – hear how we’re involved!

Digital Shoreditch Logo






This week from Monday through to Sunday you’ll find us at the Digital Shoreditch festival, an event that attracts hundreds of speakers from the most innovative and successful companies and organisations across creative, technical, start-up tech and digital spaces and beyond. During the week, we’ll be exhibiting, speaking and promoting our digital products and services amongst some of Tech City’s most talented digital and technical creative individuals.

The festival has a different theme each day, comprising of panel sessions, key note speeches and discussions – kicking off with today’s “What Tech City” theme. During the day, festival goers will collectively explore the many companies and organisations that make Tech City what it is, focusing on developing new ways to exploit the potential for growing global engagement and improving our digital economy and society.

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Medical cartography exhibition opens

In 1854 a severe outbreak of cholera swept through the Soho district of London, resulting in the death of hundreds of people. Many believed the cause of deaths were linked to ‘bad air’, however a physician named John Snow was determined to get to the bottom of the devastating outbreak.

John Snow strongly believed that the deaths were linked to the local areas water supply and began to mark the locations of each death as a dot on a map centred on Bond Street (now Broadwick Street). The map highlighted large clusters of fatalities in the vicinity of the Bond Street pump, from where residents used to get their water from. Snow suspected that this water pump was the source of the outbreak.

In order to add more proof to his theory Snow added a further line to his map – an irregular shaped loop that marked the boundary between the Broad Street pump and other water pumps in the area. The new boundary line showed the residents and workers who could access the Broad Street pump the quickest.

The map now clearly displayed that the majority of deaths had occurred within the drawn boundary, reinforcing the fact that the Broad Street pump was the source. This map became the central piece of evidence that convinced the authorities of cholera’s waterborne transmission and of their need to improve the sewer system.

Image from Wikipedia

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Putting our customers on the map

Guest blog by Ordnance Survey’s Mike Wooles

The public sector team at Ordnance Survey works with wide range of organisations spread across the country. The challenges faced by our customers are extremely varied, but they all united in that they all have a business or organisational need that involves location and geographic data.

As the public sector web editor, I am continually surprised by new areas of public sector services that I wasn’t previously aware of and the work that the great and often unseen work that is taking place that helps to keep our much valued public services operating efficiently.

Some examples of public sector work includes protecting Scotland’s historical monuments, managing highways in Blackpool, improving street cleaning in Immingham, flood alert responses in Cornwall and fire services in south Wales. However, unless you are close to the public sector or work in a particular sector, it’s difficult to appreciate the scale of work that goes.

All of diverse activity is carried out through the One Scotland Mapping Agreement (OSMA) and the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) for England and Wales.

To give you a better picture of what’s happening across the country and who is doing what and more importantly where, we have recently updated our case-study map, to give you a clearer picture.

Like all Ordnance Survey products, once you get to know them you discover that it’s not just a map! – the drop down box allows you to select the sector or industry you are interested in, so if you just want all of our Emergency Services customers or learn about Solutions for Transportation, make your selection from the drop-down menu to find the information you want.

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How do you look after your paper map?

Depending on what you hope to read about on this blog, you may be interested to know that we are also on Facebook and on Twitter. Our Facebook page tends to have more about our much loved paper maps and is a good place for followers to discuss walks and adventures they are planning. Recently we posed the following question to our Facebook friends:

How much care do you take of your Ordnance Survey maps? Are they a treasured tool or do you use and abuse them? Our team have quite different views with some folding them up neatly and keeping them pristine, while others (me!) scribble over them, highlight the good pubs and make notes about things to remember for next time. And as for folding, well… mine get a bit messy. What about you? We’d love to know how you look after your maps.

What followed was one of the biggest responses to a Facebook question we have had and led us to really think more about how our customers use our paper maps.

The majority of people who responded told us that they tried hard to look after them, keeping them in pristine condition with one or two using fairly unorthodox storage methods (freezer bag anyone?). People also seemed to enjoy having them stacked neatly in a bookcase and seeing the spines lined up neatly.

However the consensus was that they tend to get worn with use, especially if it’s a favourite area, but some recommended the Active series of paper maps which have been laminated to make them showerproof and a little bit more sturdy in the wind. Several admitted to writing on them, using coloured pens to highlight good routes and walks and trimming them to get them into map covers so they could be used without too much wear and tear.

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Football ground map quiz

Next week sees a number of FA Cup round one replays taking place, with round two kicking off from 2 December. While many football fans will recognise a picture of their team’s stadium and be able to recite all the stats and facts and figures – would you recognise your local ground on a map?

Our team makes some 5,000 changes each day to the master map of Great Britain and thanks to the work of our 300 surveyors and an extensive aerial photography programme, significant changes are ‘on the map’ within six months of them appearing.

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