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Creating a safe and secure environment is a priority for governments all over the world.

As a nation we are constantly facing challenges. From road traffic accidents and crime through to natural disasters such as flooding and infection outbreaks, these circumstances are something we plan for and deal with daily.

Accurate geospatial data plays a key role in supporting national security and resilience.

In Britain Ordnance Survey’s location datasets have been critical in keeping people and communities safe, and a new series of digital services are being made available this year to continue that work.

Blue light services

In Great Britain location data is relied on every minute of the day to support blue light services when they respond to 999 calls and emergency incidents. Every minute counts once an emergency call has been received and it is vital the emergency responder can find the address or location quickly.

In north west England, the North West Fire Control has utilised OS MasterMap data to make sure the closest available resources respond to emergencies instead of the nearest fire station.

In Greater Manchester, OS data is being used in Salford City centre to reduce crime, support local authorities and create safer smart cities. A new web interface has allowed crime reduction agencies to access CCTV systems, viewing footage captured by public and private cameras. Information can be shared easily between organisations and has driven faster response times to disturbances and anti-social behaviour.

Natural disasters

Location data is also critical when natural disaster such as severe flooding strike. Knowing where people and resources are is vital. Police, fire and ambulance services, local authorities, government agencies and armed forces need to work together. Geospatial data, combined with the ability to manipulate it through a geographic information system (GIS) and connect other datasets, can play a valuable role in risk assessing, warning and informing local communities as well as ensuring business continuity.

The OS Mapping for Emergencies (MfE) service supports the resilience community and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year at no cost. It provides quick access to reactive geospatial support at any time.


OS has been running MfE for over twenty years and been called into action many times. OS often supports localised responses to major incidents such as the Toddbrook Reservoir overflowing in 2019 and the heavy snowfall in Cumbria in 2018.

Security at major events

Geospatial data also plays a vital role in managing events – from town carnivals to international sporting competitions.

Critical to delivering safe and successful events is ensuring that all stakeholders understand and work from the same plan. Geospatial data provides common platforms to supports special events, which in turn leads to providing better planning and decision making.

Over the last decade OS data has helped support the successful delivery of many events including the Commonwealth Games and the 2012 London Olympics.

OS Data Hub – the next step

OS is keen that location data continues to play a critical role in tackling national security and resilience challenges.

Under the terms of the Geospatial Commission’s Public Sector Geospatial Agreement (PSGA), public sector developers and the private sector now have greater access and easier usability to OS’s premium geospatial data than ever before via the OS Data Hub.

From January 11 a new suite of APIs will be available for the public sector to access and use for free to support their many projects.

These APIs will simplify and make it far easier to extract premium OS data for whichever project you are working on that would benefit from it.

OS Product Manager Charley Glynn said: “We have made a range of new APIs available to help the public sector that would be particularly useful for national security and resilience work.

“So if you are looking at flood prevention and need to identify properties at risk then OS Features API contains waterways and OS Places API has the residential and commercial property information that would help your task.

“Or if you’re planning an event and need to look at road closures, then again consider working with the OS Features API as it contains the highways data you’d need.

“Whatever product it is that you think would benefit from incorporating premium data, we’d love it for you to get in touch to see how we can help.”

To find out more what OS APIs can do for you, visit the OS Data Hub.

Mapping for Emergencies

If you want to know more about access to Mapping for Emergencies, particularly around supporting

COVID-19 activity, and we may also be able to support you.

For initial advice and support requests, please contact us through our website or through your normal OS points of contact. In an emergency where you need an immediate response – including COVID-19 related – contact us on the Mapping for Emergencies number, 03456 050505.