Guest blog by Victoria Synek Herd
I’m Victoria, and I’ve just finished a fantastic week of work experience at Ordnance Survey. I’m currently a Year 12 student at Colyton Grammar School in Devon, studying Geography, Biology, English and History at A Level. I decided to come to the OS for work experience as I’m interested in studying Geography at university, and have always wanted an insight into the process behind producing maps. I cannot thank OS enough for such an insightful and fun experience.
I was stationed in the Products team for the week where I had my own computer and workspace, and I started the week by testing out the OS OpenData ‘Simple Guides’ which explained how to use the OS OpenData on QGIS. I was a little apprehensive to start with, seeing as I was not at all familiar with downloading data or using QGIS, however I soon discovered the guides were easy to follow and gave a good foundation of understanding for the beginner. On completing the four guides, I knew how to create simple maps using several different types of opendata, including OS Open Map Local and OS VectorMap District. This provided a good platform for me to investigate the other sets of opendata available, and I enjoyed creating some of my own maps.
OS OpenData launched back in April 2010 and we’ve seen over a million downloads over the last five years. From red squirrels mapped in the Highlands to crime statistics overlaid on tweets, we’ve seen a huge variety of uses too. Most examples we see are online, so when we spotted OS OpenData used in a book recently, it caught our eye.
Guest post by summer intern, Jessica Fisher
Under the banner of OS OpenData are over a dozen products which vary in format, scale and design to offer the greatest flexibility and usability possible. These products are all freely downloadable from our OS website – and now there are new start-up guides to using a number of the products.
When we talk about our range of OS Open Data products, it’s sometimes hard to visualise them from a set of words or descriptions and understand what these products can do for you. Maps and data are by their nature visual things that you have to see to appreciate them. An easy way to this is to visit the OS Open Data viewer site, showing a selection of our national datasets that can be zoomed and searched as you move around the map.
At the end of March, we’ll be releasing OS Open Map – Local in beta. It will be our most detailed open data product, providing a backdrop for integrating and visualising analytical datasets. There’s an enhanced level of detail for buildings – including functional sites such as hospitals and schools, an extended naming of roads and an extensive set of cartographic names optimised for digital styling and presentation.
The flexible and easy to use vector dataset, will show urban and land features across Britain and is designed to work with other OS OpenData products, offering consistent styling, and links with other data sets. It will be available in GML 3.2 and ESRI Shapefile when it launches. We developed OS Open Map – Local following feedback from the OpenData User Community who asked for greater flexibility, more building detail and more options for customising of the data.
As part of ongoing moves to make our data even more accessible and easier for start-ups and others to understand and use, we are pleased to announce that following close work with The National Archives we have now adopted the Open Government Licence (OGL) version 3.0 in place of our OS OpenData licence.
We were delighted to work with the The National Archives throughout 2014, in helping form this new version of the OGL, and were enthusiastic throughout to explain and navigate through previous sticking points that had prevented us from adopting the OGL in its entirety in the past. In particular, one of these sticking points concerned the issue of sublicensing and giving greater clarity as to the applicability of OGL terms to sublicensees, a matter that has been addressed in this new version of the OGL.
Together with Land Registry, we recently launched our eighth GeoVation Challenge – “How can we enable people in Britain to live in better places?”. A share of £101,000 of funding is available to ideas that best address the long-term housing issues uncovered during our tried-and-trusted GeoVation Pow Wow methodology and you can check further details about how you can enter challenge on the GeoVation blog.
Entrepreneurs, developers, geographers, community groups and innovators are encouraged to enter the challenge – in fact anyone that believes they have a great idea that addresses the issues we’ve identified. Ideas must make use of Ordnance Survey and Land Registry data and to help you, we’ve organised a roadshow of free opendata masterclasses – check out this short promotional video to learn more about the events:
One year on from the release of GB Minecraft, we launched GB Minecraft 2.0. This free-to-download Minecraft map offers gamers a much more natural-looking and detailed version of Great Britain.
Last summer our intern Joseph Braybrook created the original Minecraft map, which, at the time, with its 22 billion blocks, was thought to be the largest Minecraft map in existence built using real-world geographic data. This year Joseph, who recently re-joined us full-time as a member of our graduate scheme, has improved upon his previous work by using a staggering 83 billion blocks to create a new map of Great Britain.
Last summer, one of our interns, Joseph Braybrook, created a Minecraft world of Great Britain using our OS OpenData products. In September 2013, we released the world for users to download and explore – all 22 billion blocks of it!
We teamed up with TechHub late last year to launch our Developer Challenge and were thrilled to receive 35 entries by the closing date in February. We whittled that down to seven finalists and had a fantastic morning at TechHub’s Old Street office this week watching the seven pitch their innovative geolocation ideas for a chance to win a year’s support package for their start-ups.
The finalists had just five minutes to present their innovative, profitable or cost saving ideas, all using Ordnance Survey data at the core. Following their Dragon’s Den-style pitch, the finalists then had five minutes to be questioned by our talented panel of judges.