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Using geospatial data to support crisis management and emergency response

31 Mar 2020
Ordnance Survey
Public sectorUsing GI and maps
covid-19mapping for emergencies
Map showing use of Mapping for Emergencies in Cumbria 2018
How data can be used in Mapping for Emergencies – example from Cumbria 2018

Our Mapping for Emergencies (MfE) service supports the resilience community and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year at no cost to the user. Quick access to reactive geospatial support at any time, including outside normal working-hours is a key feature of MfE.

We’ve been running MfE for over twenty years and been called into action many times over that period. We’re often supporting localised responses to major incidents which occur at very short notice and are generally short-term. Recent examples include Toddbrook Reservoir and heavy snowfall in Cumbria.

The scale, scope, impact and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and represents a huge challenge to us all, both at home and at work.

We’ve been supporting a wide range of public bodies over the last month as COVID-19 has developed. Our customer-facing Consultancy & Technical Services team, supported by many areas of our business, have been working with areas of the UK and Devolved Government, Emergency Services and Local Government on COVID-19 preparedness and response.

Geospatial data can help to manage a crisis more effectively – from managing resources, gaining insights into impacts, to combining with other data sources and even to communicate with teams and the public. We’ve been supporting the COVID-19 response in a number of ways:

Easy to use data

We’ve made OS data and products more accessible and usable faster for the resilience community. We’ve processed a wider range of our products in ‘plug-n-play’ data formats such as GeoPackage, ‘PostGIS Dump’, ESRI File Geodatabase and GeoTIFF. We’ve also geographically segmented the data into Local Resilience Forum areas of coverage, so the community can quickly download data for their area, saving them valuable time and effort in data preparation and management.

Analytical support

We’ve answered analytical support requests from our customers that often involve taking their data, re-processing it and adding value. This can include data cleansing, address matching, or attaching important authoritative information, for example the UPRN (Unique Property Reference Number). Our work supports map-based visualisation, geospatial analysis and helps with multi-agency data sharing. For example, we have been mapping the locations of 999 calls related to COVID-19, locating the nearest pharmacy and supermarket to adult care homes and identifying sites that meet particular criteria. We’ve also provided bespoke data analysis to extract particular themes of information, such as a list of the locations of retail premises that are permitted to open.

Printed maps

We’ve helped a number of customers with requests for help with printed maps. We create outputs that customer can print themselves, but also offer access to our map printer, Dennis Maps, who although closed to general production, are supporting COVID-19 activity.

Access to Mapping for Emergencies

There are many other ways we are supporting COVID-19 activity, and we may also be able to support you. If you think we can help you, please get in touch with us. For initial advice and support requests, please contact us through our website or through your normal OS points of contact. In an emergency where you need an immediate response – including COVID-19 related – contact us on the Mapping for Emergencies number, 03456 050505.

For more information on MfE, visit our website.

Ordnance Survey
By Ordnance Survey
Press Office

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