We are going to explore what many consider the heart of Ordnance Survey; contextual mapping.
Whilst OS is synonymous with providing rich geographical information through visualisation such as contextual mapping, it is important to understand the key reasons for using our ‘out of the box’ open datasets on background mapping. It's also important to understand how these can differ to reasons for using our premium datasets which offer a higher degree of contextual information at a local scale. Two products we are going to review, to bring this comparison to life, are OS Open Zoomstack and OS VectorMap Local.
The first of these products, OS Open Zoomstack, is a free to use product is focused around giving the user a complied stack of open data products. Each map content layer is matched to an appropriate zoom scale so that the user can use the same product over various zoom scales, thus visualising consistent mapping content from a national scale, down to street level. The product also comes with 4 specifically designed styles to compliment, allowing the user to create a look and feel that is their own and impactful.
Moving away from the open product, let us turn our attention to the second of these products, OS VectorMap Local. This premium dataset is focused on giving the user rich geographic detail to the highest cartographic standards. The product is built to provide significant detail on a contextual map, that are required when identifying & highlighting local amenities. This detail also extends itself to being used for very specific purposes, to which a more generalised open product would not suffice.
For the remainder of this article, we shall look at a use case of a festival organiser looking to identify appropriate contextual products to support in their production planning. The organiser has determined requirements that need to be met for the planning to run smoothly. They also have an allocated budget but this is being stretched in other parts of the planning, so they have a desire to keep costs down as much as possible. The requirements set out include:
- Simple to understand maps of the festival location to share with third party promoters.
- Implement a map of the festival location on the festival website and branding material.
- Detailed maps of the festival site to identify local amenities to sign post towards for ticket holders.
- Bespoke detailed map of the festival layout to help ticket holders navigate around the site during the day.
Each of these requirements can be met by either of the contextual products mentioned. The following will identify which product best fits the requirement:
Simple to understand maps of the festival location to share with third party promoters.
OS Open Zoomstack is the perfect product for this requirement as it gives the clarity of the festival location when detailed local information is not required. It can be easily adapted by a user to make it branded with the festival design and as it is an open product – it is possible to share with a third party to promote as long as OS copyright is clearly acknowledged.
Implement a map of the festival location on the festival website and branding material.
OS Open Zoomstack is again right for the job of this requirement as it has that same ability to distribute to a wider audience without a prohibitive cost. The styles provided can also make for a good starting to point to make the map fit with the rest of the branding material.
Detailed maps of the festival site to identify local amenities to sign post towards for ticket holders.
OS VectorMap Local would be an ideal product to work on this requirement as the context heavy information is served up on a local scale. Amenities such as car parks, accessibility requirements and emergency access routes can all be clearly marked and sign posted towards. This makes for an insightful tool for planners and ticket holders alike.
Bespoke detailed map of the festival layout to help ticket holders navigate around the site during the day.
OS VectorMap Local adds a level of user configuration to it that allows for creating a more bespoke style that suits the branding and the purpose of display. As before, it is possible to highlight information that is useful at a local level and can be merged with plans of the festival layout to allow for clear navigation routes.