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New data formats coming this year

15 Mar 2021
Ordnance Survey
OS OpenData
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OS dataformatsos data hub

The format in which you receive your data has a huge impact on the usability. Using the right format for the job brings efficiencies – helping save time and effort. Back in September we carried out a survey to find out your preferred data formats. We want to thank everybody who took part, and we are pleased to report that the outcomes are now informing our future roadmap.

Throughout this year, we will be providing more of our current products as GeoPackage, Vector Tiles and GeoTIFF, increasing the options you have and bringing a new level of consistency across our portfolio. We hope you welcome this news, as it makes our data easier to access and ultimately more valuable for a wide range of users.

Coming soon

We are rolling out these new data formats throughout 2021 and in April, you will be able to start using the first of them. As part of their April releases, you can access OS Open Greenspace, OS Open Roads and OS Open Rivers in Vector Tiles (MBTiles). These will work well alongside the OS Open Zoomstack Vector Tiles, a great option for web and mobile mapping which is becoming more popular amongst GIS software too. Just like our whole range of OS OpenData products, these will be easily and freely downloadable from the OS Data Hub.

Read more here about how our users have benefited from this format already.

“By handling the tedious tasks of data management and packaging the data in a ready-to-use format, I was able to focus entirely on the creative and enjoyable process of cartographic design.”

- David Heyman, Managing Director of Axis Maps.

OS Roads
OS Roads

Accessible geospatial data

A key benefit of these formats is the ability to get started quickly – they help lower the barrier to entry and remove certain data management overheads. Here are some of the main benefits of each:

Benefits of Vector Tiles

  • Lightweight tiles that are efficient and fast to render in your software
  • High resolution, beautiful mapping for all devices (web and mobile)
  • Seamless user experience when zooming in and out of maps
  • Advanced features - Vector Tiles contain actual geographic data (not just images) which can be interacted with
  • Offline maps - store the tiles locally to take your maps offline e.g. on mobile devices
  • Data will be supplied in Web Mercator projection (EPSG:3857)

Benefits of GeoPackage

  • An increasingly utilised, open standard OGC GeoPackage
  • The single file is easy to transfer and offers drag and drop functionality
  • No file size limit so lots of data can be easily accommodated - great for GB national coverage
  • Broadly implemented (GDAL, QGIS, R, Python, Esri and many more)
  • More lightweight than a real geodatabase, but just as fast as a geodatabase
  • Data will be supplied in British National Grid (ESPG:27700)

Benefits of GeoTIFF

  • Georeferencing embedded – no need for external reference files
  • Used a lot in the geospatial industry, especially Earth Observation
  • An OGC Standard – widely supported
  • Drag and drop into lots of compatible software

Look out for more information later in the year as we roll out more new formats for more OS products, all of which will be made available from the new OS Data Hub.

Ordnance Survey
By Ordnance Survey
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