Skip to content

Meet the team: Jacob Rainbow

22 Nov 2019
Ordnance Survey
Behind the scenes
datameet the teamprototypingscience

Did you know, our newly created Rapid Prototyping Team is now open for applicants? As a member of the team himself and to add to our series introducing you to the brilliant people within OS, meet Jacob Rainbow. As a Senior Data Scientist, here he offers us an insight into his OS experience so far…

Jacob Rainbow
Jacob Rainbow

How long have you worked for OS?

I joined OS as part of the Graduate Programme back in September 2017. Having been granted the opportunity to progress rapidly, I was fortunate enough to be made a Senior Data Scientist within two years.

What made you choose to join OS?

Having not had a geography lesson since I was 12, Ordnance Survey was not a natural next step following a Maths degree. I applied on a whim, having just watched the fascinating BBC documentary ‘A Very British Map’. I know I enjoyed solving visual problems and was impressed by OS’s recognition of the importance of data science.

What will the Rapid Prototyping Team do?

OS is establishing an exciting new team to build Proofs of Concept / Minimum Viable Products and test them in the market. The projects will be varied, but the process will be rooted in Agile practice and will be guided by the commercial growth strategy. As such, this is a fantastic opportunity for developers to work on greenfield projects without having to trawl through archives of legacy code. Example projects might include building a crowdsourcing tool to modernise our methods of capturing data or develop a technique for modelling global population change using satellite data.

Which positions are being advertised within the Rapid Prototyping Team?

We are currently looking for skilled and enthusiastic Data Scientists, Software Engineers and Test Engineers to kickstart the new Rapid Prototyping Team. We welcome developers from all backgrounds – all we require is people who enjoy working as part of an Agile team and getting their teeth stuck into interesting projects.

Did you see a future at OS when you joined?

In all honesty, I did not expect to be given as many development opportunities as I have received since joining OS. The Innovation Team has offered the perfect incubation environment to learn data science best practice whilst working with like-minded friends. Practically speaking, OS offers the perfect mix of technical expertise coupled with a genuine respect for work/life balance seldom seen in London or beyond. I can now fully see a future at OS and have no hesitation when recommending it to friends.

What is the most exciting piece of work you’ve been part of?

We regularly host hackathons where we work hand-in-hand with some of the most skilled Engineers and Data Scientists in the world to achieve short-term goals. Last year, we spent two weeks with Microsoft / ESRI / Databricks to develop a methodology for classifying the roof structure of all 40 million buildings in Great Britain. It was amazing to see the levels of focus that are possible when experts from different fields come together on a single problem.

Have your interests changed since working at OS?

The stereotype about geographers wearing anoraks and spending their time sharpening colouring pencils proved deeply unfounded. I have well and truly been won over and now regard geospatial data as the most interesting diet for the Data Scientist. Two years ago, I knew nothing about satellite imagery and machine learning, and now I am fortunate enough to work with them every day. Oh, and I now wear an anorak to work!

What is your favourite part of the job?

My favourite part of the job has been the trust granted to me to present my research directly to stakeholders. I have been given the opportunity to travel internationally to attend training sessions or provide consultancy to customers overseas. At no point have I ever felt patronised by senior management and it is enjoyable to be able to voice opinions without fear of reprimand.

What is your favourite part of OS beyond the job?

I would have to say the Ordnance Survey Cycling Club has been a game-changer. We go on weekly rides in the New Forest and regularly have longer group rides, for example the annual ‘Tour of the Isle of Wight’ ride. Incidentally, it is my least favourite part of the job watching my Strava segments be depleted by other members of the club.

What are you excited to work on (or continue working on) in the future?

I’m excited to learn more about the Scrum process and running an Agile Team. I have learned so much from spending time in the Engineering Team and see a huge potential in coupling this directly with the data science process. The Rapid Prototyping Team provides the necessary vessel to see the fruits of research ripen.

Finally, what advice do you have for any applicants to the Rapid Prototyping Team?

We are looking for creative thinking and fresh insight on problems, so play to your strengths and recognise where your skillsets lie. I would say that a lack of geographical training is not necessarily a disadvantage. We are an equal opportunities employer, so do not let anything put you off about the workplace environment. If you think you’ll love what you do, then please do not hesitate in applying!

Interested in joining us as a Data Scientist, Senior Software Engineer or a Test Engineer? Apply now.

Ordnance Survey
By Ordnance Survey
Press Office

Sharing the latest news about OS. We can license you to use OS maps in print, online and film format. For more information and resources for journalists, bloggers and media professionals, email or call 023 8005 5565.