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OS research shows sustainability projects drive better opportunities for software developers

12 Jul 2022

UK efforts to reduce transport emissions has driven up demand for developers who can support the roll out of electric vehicles (EVs) and other forms of sustainable transport.

Research commissioned by Ordnance Survey has revealed why sustainability projects are an increasing area of focus for software developers, with job satisfaction and unique problem-solving opportunities cited as key drivers.

The research, which canvassed the opinions of 500 developers who have worked on UK-focused sustainability projects, revealed that developers were highly motivated by the opportunity to do something positive for the world and enjoy the technical challenges these projects present. It also reported that easy-to-use geospatial tools and data enabled more developers to get involved without the need for specialist GIS skills.

The same research highlighted how UK efforts to reduce transport emissions – including a deadline of 2030 by which all new vehicles must be electric or hybrid models – had driven up the demand for developers who can support the rollout of EV infrastructure, the supporting energy infrastructure, and the digital solutions that will accelerate EV adoption.

Key findings include:

  • 46% of developers working on sustainability projects use geospatial tools.
  • OS ranked highest among developers when asked which geospatial data provider offered the ‘easiest to use’ tools for development.
  • Over 90% of respondents said they enjoy working on sustainability projects because of the challenges involved and the motivation to do good.
  • 94% of developers bring their own ideas to the table for ways to develop sustainability projects, showing that they are highly engaged with the process.
  • Main focus to date has been sustainable development – close to 70% of respondents have worked on projects in this area, followed by energy and power at 57%, natural resources at 51%, and transport and mobility at 49%.
  • Some 66% of developers who worked on transport and mobility projects focused on EVs.
  • 87% of respondents working on EV projects agreed that the UK’s Zero Emission Policy was a key driver of their EV project. Of these, 37% worked on EV infrastructure development projects, and 34% on EV projects related to user experience.

OS’s Head of Product, Rollo Home, said: “Developing solutions that will help to tackle the climate crisis and ensure a more sustainable future must be a focus for organisations and governments across the globe. Those with technical skills and data expertise will be crucial when it comes to innovating in this area, as will access to high-quality data. Our research and conversations with developers have revealed that use cases for the environment and national infrastructure require trusted geospatial data, which is where Ordnance Survey’s data offerings and expertise stand out above other data providers. Through the OS Data Hub, developers can quickly access the data they need through APIs to build applications and embed richer contextual features in existing offerings.”

When looking for a geospatial data source, developers were less swayed by cost and more by what works: only 10% said that a source being free was the reason for their preference, while 40% said they were looking for the best tool for the job.

Across all respondents, there was a clear prevalence of developer projects focusing on expanding and building public EV charging infrastructure. A key focus for developers is to plan the siting of charging stations, keeping in mind the traffic routes, land usage and existing power grids. Another equally important effort goes into creating a modern, user-friendly information and communication platform for EV adopters, such as apps informing drivers of charging point status, location, connectivity and local amenities.

OS Product Manager Rhoswen Hoath said: “Historically, turning geospatial data into usable information required niche skills and expertise. From challenging file formats to geographical nomenclature, geospatial datasets were among the most difficult to use. As part of Ordnance Survey’s digital transformation, and the wider evolution of the technology landscape, organisations are increasingly able to access and share data in more user-friendly formats, such as through APIs. Today, developers without geospatial expertise can quickly spin up geospatial applications and features that vastly improve their offerings. For those working on sustainability projects, the value of trusted geospatial data cannot be overstated.”

Access the research report “Sustainability: opportunities for software developers” here.

About the research

Ordnance Survey commissioned a global survey of 500 developers who have worked on UK-focused sustainability projects to find out more about who they are, what kind of work they’re doing, how they work and where they see the demand for sustainability projects in the future. Of the 500 developers surveyed, 40% of respondents were based in the UK, with the remaining developers based in India, Hungary, Romania and Poland.

Ordnance Survey
By Ordnance Survey
Press Office

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