Guest blog by Alasdair Rae, University of Sheffield
Thanks to the new Ordnance Survey Data Hub, it’s easier than ever for users to get their hands on the treasure trove of geographic data covering the length and breadth of Britain. In this article, I’ll explain how I used some of Ordnance Survey’s digital terrain model data to create a new map of the Scottish Highlands. I will also say a bit about the software and methods, and I’ve shared the data below so anyone who is interested can try it for themselves. But before that, let’s take a look back at the first ‘3D map’ of the Highlands.
The first ‘3D map’ of the Highlands
We’re looking for your feedback on our new styles for OS Open Zoomstack. They’re aimed at making our data more accessible to those with colour vision deficiency (CVD). Find out about the work that Jessica Baker, Graduate Data Scientist, has been doing on the styles and try them out for yourself.
Unless you’re colour blind, you are unlikely to be aware of the problems which cartographic styles and colour schemes cause for those affected by CVD. Colours usually easily distinguishable to the human eye, such as red and green, appear very similar and can make elements of map reading more difficult. The issue is often overlooked, with traditional spectral rainbow colour schemes kicking up several difficulties for those with colour blindness.
During my first few weeks at OS on the Graduate Development Programme, I’ve been learning how we can improve the accessibility of data. I decided to start by developing free downloadable styles for our popular OS Open Zoomstack product – an exciting project to work on.
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?
Our vision to deliver a single customer portal to provide easier access to OS products and services is continuing at pace. In the 12 months since work began on opening up OS MasterMap, we’ve been busy working with customers and testing the OS Data Hub. The design and build of the new developer portal is aimed at providing an easy to access service for our customers. It will replace our current OS OpenData download pages and the API shop, to give our customers:
- Access to free API services up to a threshold and allow users to purchase credit for further access
- A place to manage their accounts and view their data usage
- The option to download OS OpenData products
- Access to data in new and improved formats
- Feedback on errors and omissions in OS data
- A simple way to navigate to product information, an improved API document store, community support and help FAQs
This year marks the 50th year anniversary of the Moon landing, and to celebrate the occasion the OS GeoDataViz team decided to create a map of Apollo 11’s lunar landing site in our unique map style (available to buy in our OS map shop). Find out how Paul Naylor approached the task.
On 20 July 1969 at 20:17 GMT, Apollo 11 touched down on the moon. Six hours later Neil Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface. It was a monumental achievement for humanity.
We were delighted to have two entries shortlisted for the inaugural Geography in Government Awards this year. We were even more pleased to win one as OS Open Zoomstack scooped the prize for ‘Excellence in geo-visualisation and cartography’, up against tough competition from the Defence Geographic Centre (DGC).
Some of the OS team attended the awards ceremony on 25 April at Scotland House in London and enjoyed a great evening which celebrated the best of geography across Government. OS Open Zoomstack is our latest open data product which we launched in January after a successful trial throughout summer 2018. For this award we owe a huge thank you to everyone who took part in the trial and made this product a success. Without your feedback and support it wouldn’t have been possible.
What’s happened since the launch?
OS Open Zoomstack is now available as a fully supported open data product. Thanks to the 1200 people who took part in our trial and gave us feedback and helped bring this product to life.
What is OS Open Zoomstack?
A comprehensive vector basemap of Great Britain, it’s fast and easy to use and takes you from national to local in one scroll of the mouse or pinch of the screen. It’s highly customisable and can be used in apps, on websites and even offline. Available as one file (in two different formats) our latest open data offering comes with styles, a simple data schema and guides to get you started.
By popular demand, our Geovation team will be delivering another series of geotech workshops across Great Britain. This time, they’re focusing the sessions on OS Open Zoomstack to help you embed OS Maps into your web, mobile and desktop application.
OS Open Zoomstack
We launched OS Open Zoomstack as a trial in July and over 900 people signed up to take part. We’ve seen over 1,100 downloads of the Vector Tiles, 900+ for GeoPackage and over 400 downloads of the PostGIS Export File. It’s been fantastic seeing OS Open Zoomstack being used, from building an interactive map in a day with Axis Maps to supporting a BBC article on rental prices across Britain and enhancing Pocket Pal’s mapping.
We’ve had such a great response to the trial and received a huge amount of feedback from the users, that we’re going to invest in making OS Open Zoomstack a supported product.
For both the downloads and the API we’ll be developing Alpha versions and continue to make changes based on your feedback. We’ll be doing an alpha release shortly for the various downloads. We’ll also continue supporting the API, and will update this with the new data from the Alpha while we plan the release of a fully supported version in the future. Please note that this may involve changes in the API URL at a minimum.
At this point we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped us to make this exciting step!