on freeing data unwillingly

So 10 days ago now, the UK Government announced that they would be freeing up some Ordnance Survey data as part of a “drive to improve transparency”. You can read reactions to this all over the geospatial blogs (see Mapperz excellent round-up), some ambivalent, others mostly positive. Me, I’m with the ambivalent crowd. On one level, assuming it’s actually useful datasets made available, and assuming we get to use them how we’d like to (using it in our internal GIS, for example), it will be great, and my colleagues will find their jobs considerably easier.

new business strategy from the ordnance survey

Via the Guardian’s Free Our Data Blog, but with remarkably little fanfare elsewhere- the UK Government have released their new strategy for the Ordnance Survey. The results have the potential to be really good, but might also be a bit of a damp squib. The big concession is an extended OS OpenSpace service: It will provide greater access to free use of a number of Ordnance Survey products from 1:10,000 scale through to 1:1 million scale.

free the facts

From the O’Reilly Radar blog comes this great presentation from Dave Gray, which as Tim O’Reilly says himself is a must-read, must-share for anyone who cares about either science or open access. It’s also one of the most engaging “powerpoints” you’ll see in a while, showing that it’s possible to have something with lots of text, yet still be interesting and attractive. Give it a go and tell your friends!

this week has been mostly about web mapping

I started off this week with the intention of resurrecting and upgrading a demo openlayers map of all our sites, that had been stuck in a sorry corner of our corporate website being neglected. This tied in with moving the map to a different server, upgrading all the components, and generally giving it a shave and a haircut (it is male, that’s for certain). For those people interested in our wms and wfs data- these will be online again soon, I promise.

assuming people are always connected

All Points Blog pointed me at the direction of a piece on the mess of mapping and postcode data in Northern Ireland, which got me thinking a bit about this rush to rely on location-based services and always-on connections to “the cloud/interweb”. At first glance, the situation in Ireland (National Mapping agency has copyright on maps, Post Office has copyright on property location) sounds very familiar. However, Ireland doesn’t have postcodes yet, so things are a not so cut and dried- in this day and age, if you had to go to an awful lot of trouble to implement a system for locating properties, would you invent the postcode system or something else?

thursday tip day converting free contour data for use in gis

Firstly, if you’ve seen this post before, apologies. It got lost in a previous re-organisation of the blog and I thought it was worth re-posting… You can get free contour data for the UK from the Scottish Mountaineering Club website. It’s based on public domain NASA data, cleaned up by the club and made freely available. It comes in garmin .img format, in several zip files, which roughly represent areas of the country.

do we need a national mapping agency

There have been a thought-provoking series of posts about the relevance of the Ordnance Survey. It’s good that people are questioning the need for a national mapping agency, but I think the answer has to be a resounding YES. The OpenGeoData blog doesn’t. To quote: “Me, I just don’t care about the Ordnance Survey. It’s not “evil” or “immoral”, it just doesn’t matter. I think that Open Maps can do better, and I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is by working on Open Maps, but it’s not a crusade it’s just a superior way of working together and generating maps.