Ordnance Survey’s open data journey

Find out more about our open data journey and where we're supporting Open MasterMap.

Open MasterMap | Trials | Background and delivery plan

Where the Open MasterMap Implementation Programme is now

OS has created an internal programme (Open MasterMap Implementation Programme) to identify, propose and deliver the outputs agreed with Geospatial Commission, acting as the Government customer and policy lead for the project and providing overall governance and assurance for the project.

Ordnance Survey (OS) is responsible for the operational implementation of the majority of the outputs of the project and will work with the geospatial industry to identify and propose the most valuable outputs in meeting Government's policy objectives.

As a reminder, Government's intended outcomes from this policy are to:

  • Fully open significantly more geospatial data for businesses and developers to use, free and without restriction.
  • Enable start-ups to deliver new products and services with the data using the free threshold.
  • Make the data available for free, up to a threshold. Some businesses will not need to pay at all for their use of OS data because of the use of the free threshold.
  • Help make new innovations possible in the housing market. For example, this data will make it easier for property developers to identify potential development sites that aren’t currently registered.
  • Help new users understand the pricing structure for the data more easily following the OS changes, removing uncertainty around cost of use.
  • Implement an improved errors and omissions tool and reporting process.
  • Publish data in additional formats will also improve the quality of the data and its ease of use.

Who are we working with?

We’re working with the Geospatial Commission, Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG), GeoPlace, Local Government Association (LGA), and Improvement Service, as well as new and existing users to ensure success against these objectives.

We’re committed to evolving our products and services

It’s important to note that we're proposing to only deliver data products and APIs. There will be no software solutions.

Up and coming trials will focus on:

  • Enhanced mapping datasets
  • Improved access platform
  • Identifiers
  • Accessible licensing

What APIs are proposed to be developed?

We’re working on a set of utility APIs which we're proposing will improve the accessibility of OS data.

Six of the proposed APIs

Web map tile service

Individual flat image (raster) tiles delivered online for base maps in geographic information systems (GIS), web and mobile applications.
Vector tile service Individual data (vector) tiles, consisting of geometry with limited or no attribution, delivered over the web primarily for customisable base maps in GIS, web and mobile applications. This was trialled as part of the OS Open Zoomstack trial.
Web feature service

This will deliver geographic features (vector) online – geometry and attribution. It can be used in various ways such as for visualisation, querying or creating derived data in GIS, web and mobile applications.

Navigation API

This will provide point-to-point (A to B) and multi-point (A to B to C) routing across roads and paths to support routing use cases, for example route planning.

Identifier API

A look-up service to link between different identifiers and datasets. This will enable a variety of use cases outside the service, such as linking users’ own data to common identifiers.

Machine-to-machine bulk downloads

Users will be able to access OS products in an automatable way to drive business processes. It’s likely to provide access to OS products at a persistent URL for each epoch.

We believe that these APIs will result in:

  • Faster time to market
  • Lower cost to enter market
  • Reduced cost of ownership
  • Easy to integrate into solutions

You can see our schedule for these trials in our proposed delivery plan (PDF), which will start from early 2019.

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Our open data journey

1.9 million open data downloads in eight years

OS OpenData was made freely available for the first time in 2010, when 12 OpenData mapping products were released. And ever since, OS has updated and added to its open data sets.

Over the past eight years we’ve seen our open data downloaded 1.9 million times. On average, 150 people download OS OpenData every day. That’s 54,750 people a year.

In 2015 we released OS Open Map - Local, OS Open Names, OS Open Rivers, and OS Open Roads.

In 2017 OS Open Greenspace was launched.

Enabling data exploration

Licensing was simplified through the Open Government Licence (OGL), which made it easier for customers to do more. And we created an Exploration Licence for products which are not included in the open data portfolio. This gave anybody free access to premium OS data, such as OS MasterMap, to explore how it could benefit their own products or business.

Our desire to be part of the open data revolution saw the birth of Geovation in 2010, with a series of annual challenges designed to get entrepreneurs working with open data and geography.

And in 2015, we opened the Geovation Hub in Clerkenwell, London. The Hub runs the Geovation Programme to help start-ups using third-party property or location data accelerate and grow.

We toured the country with OS OpenData masterclasses, showing people how to work with open data and put it into their own products and services. We launched a software development kit to make it easier for people to plug the data into apps and mobile.

We’ve also released open data in alternative formats, including the creation of a Minecraft map of Great Britain which had more than 250,000 downloads.