We often talk about the 10,000 changes a day being captured in our database containing all of the features of Great Britain. It can be hard to grasp how that much change is taking place – until you think about all of the new roads and buildings under construction and then burrow down into the level of detail we capture – right down to phone boxes and even electricity pylons.
When National Grid announced that the first new electricity pylon design in 90 years was going to be erected in Nottinghamshire, we knew our surveying team would need to swing into action. Pylons not only feature in our large scale products, such as OS MasterMap for our business and government customers, but also in smaller scale products, like the 1:25,000 scale mapping in our OS Explorer maps used for outdoor activities.
There are two questions we’re often asked: ‘Why is there a man (or woman) in a hi-vis OS jacket in my area carrying a pole?’ and ‘Why is there an OS plane going backwards and forwards overhead?’
In both cases, whether on foot or in the air, it’s members of our surveying team, capturing some of the thousands of changes taking place every day and adding them to our mastermap of Great Britain. As well as 250 surveyors on the ground working across the country, we operate two aircraft which are used to take aerial photography and are based in East Midlands Airport. They capture on average 50,000 aerial images covering 40 000 km squared of Britain every year.
Regular blog readers will have come across Myrddyn Phillips and his intrepid team of mountain measurers from G&J Surveys previously.Their latest challenge focused on Snowdon and on Tuesday 2 September, Myrddyn’s team and our own geodetic expert Mark Greaves, set off up Wales’ highest peak along with a film crew. The re-survey was being covered by ITV Wales as part of their programme ‘The Mountain’.
Today’s guest blog is by Nick Hancock
In June 2014, I landed for the second time on the remote Isle of Rockall which lies around 250 miles off the Outer Hebrides in the North Atlantic. I had already landed on Rockall in 2012 on a reconnaissance for Rockall Solo. The challenge was now for me to survive on the rock on my own in order to set two new endurance records: THE LONGEST SOLO OCCUPATION OF ROCKALL and THE LONGEST OCCUPATION OF ROCKALL IN HISTORY.
During my 45-day record-breaking occupation of the remote Isle of Rockall in order to help pass the extended time alone I measured and mapped the summit of Rockall and Hall’s Ledge, the only vaguely level area on the rock, where my shelter, the ‘RockPod’, was secured. In addition, in an attempt to update the current United Kingdom Hydrographical Office (UKHO) 1977 Doppler sourced records relating to the position and height of Rockall, I installed a fixed permanent survey marker on the summit plateau of the rock, from which on 13 June and 14 July I ran two 24-hour data collection sessions using the Leica GS10 GNSS receiver with AS10 antenna which had been loaned to me for the expedition by Leica Geosystems.
We currently have 250 field surveyors who contribute to the 10,000 changes taking place every day in our database. Thanks to them our master map of Great Britain is constantly, subtly shifting and changing. Luckily, the country is nothing if not varied, and not all of our surveyors are pounding concrete and worrying about urban canyons (the phenomena of being in an area so built up that satellite signals – can’t reach their GNSS kit). Some spend their days surrounded by sheep, not Starbucks. One such surveyor is Guy Rodger who looks after Shetland. Guy’s worked for OS for 30 years and spends an average of four weeks in Shetland every year and has to carefully plan his work to maximise his time there. I caught up with him recently to ask him some questions.
Our surveyors roam the length and breadth of the country, but it’s not every day that they get to visit Britain’s most famous cobbled street. We’re always talking about making 10,000 changes a day to the master map of Great Britain and keeping the 460 million features in our database up-to-date – and our latest changes include the new set of Coronation Street!
The new map follows the recent move of the Coronation Street lot from ITV’s Quay Street studios to its new purpose built state-of-the-art home in Trafford. With updates ranging from changes in kerb lines to the addition of new roads, houses and retail properties, it’s not surprising to see the Street being captured in our most detailed mapping, OS MasterMap.
Today marks the anniversary of the death of Major General William Roy, a man of enormous importance in the history of Ordnance Survey. He is honoured with a Blue Plaque at his former home in Argyll Street, Soho. The building is now home to a branch of French Connection, something which raised a little smile for us as there is a French connection with William Roy.
Born in 1726, the hugely far-sighted Scottish military engineer and surveyor understood the strategic importance of maps very early on and when King George II commissioned a military survey of the Scottish highlands in 1746, in response to the Jacobite uprising a year before, Roy became involved. William Roy worked without a military commission until 1755, but was then promoted steadily in recognition of his talents. His technical drawings showing the phases of a battle were adopted as the standard across the military and saw him promoted to a Captain in the Corps of Highlanders. He later advanced to Engineer-Director of military surveys in Great Britain and eventually the Director of Royal Engineers in 1783, after achieving the rank of Major-General in 1781.
Every so often we receive a tweet from one of our followers saying that they’ve seen an Ordnance Survey plane overhead. Or someone will tweet us a picture like the one below and ask us what we’re up to. The simple answer is that we’re capturing aerial imagery of Britain, as part of our role as the national mapping authority.
We’re often asked about how our surveyors carry out their work, and particularly how they cope in adverse weather conditions. Our blogging surveyor Dom Turnor, gives his take on surveying in the recent wet weather.
The Telegraph reported at the end of January, that we have had the wettest January since records began over 100 years ago, with some parts of Britain receiving two times the average rainfall for the month. Whilst this has caused devastation and considerable heartache across the country, the job of a field surveyor goes on; we have deadlines to meet and customers to serve and they need new or amended data to appear on our maps so they can go about their business.
Ordnance Survey make 10,000 changes a day to the master map of Great Britain. This fact often astounds people and this behind the scenes story from one of our surveyors, Dom Turnor, helps explain just how many changes occur to our landscape every day.
I’m a forty-something field surveyor living and working in the rolling hills and hidden valleys of Worcestershire, where my primary job and purpose is to keep the large scale mapping up-to-date. I have been working as a field surveyor for nearly 13 years and have concentrated my efforts mainly around the golden villages of the Cotswolds, the post-industrial towns of the Forest of Dean and the wooded valleys of Stroud. It has only been in the last year that I have been transferred a little to the north; where I now find my area of responsibility to be the Malvern Hills.