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How even quirky press enquiries demonstrate the power of location data

30 May 2022
Ordnance Survey
Behind the scenesOS OpenData
location datapremier leaguesports

The press office of Ordnance Survey (OS), a centuries old national mapping agency and forward-thinking data organisation is an interesting place and, believe it or not, we don’t just receive enquiries about maps.

As you’d expect we receive a number of requests where we have to tap into our national geographic database. From traditional requests like the length of roads and coastlines to the number of addresses and points of interest. However, every so often, we get some unusual requests.

The most recent one related to footballing superstar and golf aficionado Gareth Bale. Amid transfer speculation surrounding his next club, we were asked about the number of golf clubs within a 20-mile radius of all Premier League clubs as well as Cardiff City and Swansea City.

It was not the type of enquiry we usually receive, but it was easily within our skillset, so we got to work to find out the answer.

To identify Gareth Bale’s options our data scientists used OS Greenspace and filtered it to the function of ‘Golf Course’. This produced a definitive list of golfing activity within a 20-mile radius of all those clubs. This included nine and 18-hole courses, driving ranges, putting greens and even crazy golf.

Wales. Golf. Brentford. In that order.

Unsurprisingly, the results are as you would expect. You can see the impacts of population density, geography and affluence. As an island nation, geography appears to be the biggest driver in this case, with eight of the bottom 10 clubs being close to the coast which obviously reduces their land radius.

The good news for Bale is that he has his pick of London clubs, including his former club Spurs. However Brentford lead the way with 239 different golfing venues within a 20-mile radius. The affluence, green space and central location of South West London and Surrey prove to be just the right mix for golf enthusiasts.

Chelsea (232), Arsenal (223), West Ham (212) and Tottenham (205) complete the top five clubs surrounded by the most golf activity. Norwich City, not content with being bottom of the actual Premier League, are also bottom of this list too, surrounded by a comparatively meagre 30 golfing sites.

Cardiff Swansea
The golfing infrastructure within a 20-mile radius of both Cardiff and Swansea

Bale, who famously has a replica of the 17th hole of Sawgrass’ built in his back garden, may not need to worry about this, but this enquiry clearly demonstrates the power and accuracy of the data we are interrogating.

The concept of points, features and addresses within a radius can be equated to the work OS carried out during the Toddbrook Reservoir flood in August 2019. Several days of heavy rain resulted in high volumes of water flowing over the spillway, partially dislodging concrete slabs.

The Environment Agency (EA) issued a severe flood warning indicating a ‘danger to life’ and Derbyshire declared a major incident, with approximately 1,500 residents evacuated from the nearby village of Whaley Bridge.

Geographic Information was pivotal to the response. It was used to identify properties within at risk areas and develop robust evacuation plans in the event of a breach. So the same methodology used to answer the Gareth Bale enquiry is very similar to what we would use in critical situations.

On this occasion we used our Mapping for Emergencies (MfE) service to support the emergency services. Primarily aimed at emergency services, local authorities and NHS bodies, our MfE service provides geospatial support during any emergency or major incident whether it is responding to natural disasters or security threats.

Another example of critical work carried out by points within a radius is the emergency road closure research carried out by OS’s Rapid Prototyping Team. They developed a prototype web app where the user can specify a location and a minimum safe distance, then instantly view an interactive map showing optimised recommendations for road closures.

While the number of golf clubs around Leicester City or Brighton and Hove Albion might not be what we would usually focus on, the methodology and depth of data behind this question acted as a fantastic barometer for the varying types of work OS is involved in, and the significant footprint this leaves on Great Britain.

Number of golf venues within a 20-mile radius of football clubs

Rank

Stadium

Club

Golf venues

22

Carrow Road

Norwich City

30

21

Liberty Stadium

Swansea City

31

20

AMEX Stadium

Brighton and Hove Albion

49

19

King Power Stadium

Leicester City

49

18

St James’ Park

Newcastle United

58

17

St Mary’s Stadium

Southampton

58

16

Cardiff City Stadium

Cardiff City

64

15

Goodison Park

Everton

99

14

Anfield

Liverpool

101

13

Elland Road

Leeds United

107

12

Molineux

Wolves

108

11

Turf Moor

Burnley

108

10

Villa Park

Aston Villa

116

9

Etihad Stadium

Manchester City

147

8

Old Trafford

Manchester United

150

7

Vicarage Road

Watford

184

6

Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace

201

5

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Tottenham Hotspur

205

4

London Stadium

West Ham United

212

3

Emirates Stadium

Arsenal

223

2

Stamford Bridge

Chelsea

232

1

Brentford Community Stadium

Brentford

239

Ordnance Survey
By Ordnance Survey
Press Office

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