How the British Army use mapping APIs for battlefield training

The British Army is using Ordnance Survey mapping data to create training scenarios, and provide soldiers with accurate and realistic experiences.

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Virtual battlefield simulations are key to army training. To immerse soldiers in accurate and realistic ‘mission scenarios’, the 47 Regiment of the British Army is pioneering high fidelity mapping to create realistic training scenarios. 

Soldiers in 47 Regiment are innovative, adaptable, and work in a highly skilled aviation environment. They are trained in roles including as pilots of the Watchkeeper Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), to provide intelligence for commanders across the British Army.


During exercises, the OS NGD API is the backbone of the simulation platform, providing an automated base-map for the training area.

The API includes the buildings, roads, surface and elevation data for the UK. However, any attribute from the National Geographic Database (NGD) can be applied.

The training team have found the Ordnance Survey maps visually pleasing and engaging compared to other mapping providers, which has helped their teams get absorbed into the tactical environment. Using accurate location data in the simulation helps achieve a lot of army training objectives.


The mission of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command’s (TRADOC) Geospatial Centre of Excellence (GCOE) is to “provide timely, relevant and reliable geospatial support in support of the Army.” The Geospatial Centre of Excellence provides capabilities in geospatial intelligence, geo-processing, operations and training, as well as capabilities to support future soldier digitisation initiatives

OS NGD API is a core infrastructure for developing location-based applications, including turn-by-turn navigation. It enables anyone to explore their geodata, as well as providing rich mapping and visualisation capabilities.

It is a flexible solution that allows clients to tailor the information in their simulations to meet their needs and can be used with third-party applications and games.

The Ministry of Defence is able to use OS data and expert help under the Public Sector Geospatial Agreement (PSGA) license, which includes expert technical consultancy and support.

"We found OS data to be extremely useful and saved us time by using the API to build out maps that would normally be done manually."

Staff Sergeant Stuart Brauninger, 74 Battery (The Battle Axe Company), 47 Regiment Royal Artillery, British Army

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