From the Isle of Arran to Cornwall, our field surveyors are working hard throughout Great Britain come rain or shine. As we did back in August, we want to share a glimpse into how our 200+ surveyors feed in to the 20,000 changes we make to our database every single day. Alongside our surveyors, we have two aircraft and an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) team working to keep our database up to date.
We asked a handful of surveyors about their latest jobs, and they didn’t disappoint. We have everything from Strawberry Field in Liverpool to a new state-of-the-art events venue in Aberdeen.
Tim Glasswell surveyed Europe’s first eco-friendly mosque in Cambridge. With a near-zero carbon footprint, this purpose-built mosque is the epitome of sustainability.
Liverpool-based field surveyor Christopher Robinson found himself on the site of Strawberry Field. Previously the site of a Salvation Army children’s home and made famous by The Beatles hit Strawberry Fields Forever, in September of this year it opened to the public for the first time. Dodging some tourists, Christopher surveyed the new café, meditation rooms and community space – he even found a benchmark!
From indoor arenas…
Guest blog by OS Surveyor Lee Harvey.
Imagine you’re buying a new house and are worried about the risk of flooding. Or you’re installing a mobile network, such as 5G, and want to know where to place transmitters. You’ll need to know the shape of the ground, buildings blocking line of sight, where will water flow, and a host of other things. OS create a set of 3D height products as well as our 2D maps and data.
Remote Sensing at OS is a big thing. The team spends Spring and Summer (when the weather is better… apparently!) flying up and down Great Britain capturing aerial imagery. These images are used to update our maps quickly and efficiently at head office in Southampton. By taking many overlapping images and using some air triangulation software (that’s the maths of measuring angles from the air), we match these images to their real-world location and work out the height of features on the ground. The software takes these height points and constructs a Digital Surface Model (DSM), which also forms the basis of our orthorectified imagery (a top-down perspective, map-like image). The DSM data includes buildings, trees, bridges and anything which exists at the time the photos are taken. A video game is a good example, as you move your character through any 3D environment, the hard surface that the game graphics display, will be draped over a DSM (although it’s called a Mesh in the 3D graphics industry, the fundamentals are the same). To complement this surface, and to allow lots of clever analysis of the real world, we also create a Digital Terrain Model (DTM).
Continuing our series to introduce you to the people within OS and share the range of work we do, meet Mark Cuthbert. As a Senior Production Manager, here he gives us a glimpse into his ever-changing role…
How long have you worked for OS?
32 years. I started as a Survey Technician when I was 17 and spent the next 12 years surveying. My surveying career progressed to Mapping and Charting Officer, Surveyor, and then Senior Surveyor.
Most of us are aware that Britain’s coastlines are constantly changing with erosion and landslides and we’ve blogged before about how our data is being used to predict future changes to the Scottish coastline. One challenge is capturing the changes quickly and ensuring our data reflects the current coastline.
A recent landslide on the Norfolk coast at Sidestrand demonstrated the benefit of drone use to capture change. Footage of the cliff fall was captured by a member of the public and James Morrison from our Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) team, worked with our Norfolk–based surveyor Jez Hull, to respond quickly.
Based out of East Midlands airport, our team are getting to grips with some new technology and a new aircraft for the 2019 flying season, which runs from the end of February to the end of October.
This year, we’re excited to be adding two Vexcel Mark 3 UltraCam Eagle cameras and a Pressurised Beechcraft B200 King Air aircraft to our kit! In a bid to capture more imagery than ever before and to test efficiency with flights, the new cameras and plane are being flown higher and at faster speeds.
Continuing our series to introduce you to the hard-working individuals within OS and showcase the wide variety of work we do, meet Dave Tucker. Dave has been with us for a long time but has always worked out in the field. Here, he gives us an insight on his role in mapping Great Britain…
How long have you worked for OS?
43 years – I started at OS in April 1975 at 19 years old! I started as a basic grade 4 surveyor after a gruelling survey course lasting 9 months. I’ve since been sponsored for qualifications including an MSc in Surveying. Currently, I am the South Region Manager in Field Operations and have been in this role for 15 years. I have also been an RICS Chartered Surveyor (MRICS) since 2006.
Can you describe your working day?
In three words, each day for me is busy, varied and rewarding. I have daily responsibilities such as liaising with my fellow field managers, regional management team and the team of 40 surveyors working remotely across London and the South East (using Skype as appropriate).
The Royal Institute of British Architects is gathering tonight to preview the RIBA Stirling Prize 2018 shortlist. The annual awards celebrate the best buildings in the UK, the vast majority of which OS surveys and adds to the master map of Great Britain. We’re wondering if our surveyor Tim Glasswell will complete a hat trick and find he has surveyed the winning building once more…
Tim works in our East of England team and has surveyed two buildings in Cambridge which have previously won the national RIBA Stirling Prize – the Sainsbury’s Laboratory (at the University Botanic Garden) in 2012 and the Accordia development in 2008. From this year’s shortlist, Tim and colleague Howard Boyer, surveyed the Storey’s Field Centre and Eddington Nursery, University of Cambridge.
You may know about our trig pillars, but did you know that there are more nostalgic reminders of how we used to map Great Britain? Have you ever seen one of these while you’ve been out and about? If so, it is highly likely you have spotted one of our renowned benchmarks. 2018 marks 25 years since the last traditionally-cut arrow style benchmark was carved on a milestone located outside The Fountain pub in Loughton.
The Timepix historic photo site launches today and makes a unique set of photos from OS’ history available online for the first time. Over 21,000 photos catalogue the Manchester streets between the 1940s and 1960s, giving a unique insight into the city’s past captured by OS surveyors. From children and animals photobombing the surveyors, to a background of vintage adverts, Timepix showcases a fascinating collection of photos around Greater Manchester.
Why were OS surveyors photographing Manchester?
OS surveyors took revision point (RP) photos across Britain to provide a network of surveyed locations. These known spots could then be used to ‘control’ the position of detail on a large scale map. RPs were often on corners of buildings and other immovable features, and were fixed to centimetre accuracy. Finding the RPs for future map updates was an issue, and photography quickly became the best visual reference – leading to thousands of photos of men with white arrows…