OS puts the “No” back in Innovation

It was all looking so good.. As announced in the budget day strategy document, the Ordnance Survey was amongst others things asked to focus its corporate resources at increasing the amount of innovation around it’s products and services. 

Last week the OS launched their Geovation website, and have opened up somewhat their OpenSpace API – all very positive..  

But then this morning comes news that Gavin Brocks kml file which allowed OpenSpace tiles to be displayed by any application that understands kml including Google Earth has been blocked by the OS for … well I’m not sure actually read Gavins blog post on the subject for the details.

I hope this is a case of one part of the organisation not realising the world has changed, but then again maybe it’s too early to tell. As someone who tried to get the OS to take innovation more seriously during my time there, I am just very disappointed for Gavin, if not surprised.

UPDATE  19/5 : The OS has reversed its decision, see Gavin’s blog for details

Written and submitted from the Google Offices, Mountain View California.

9 comments

  1. Martin Daly

    Steady on. All that OS have done, as far as I can see, is get upset about direct access to their tiles outside of their API. Does that sound like a familiar restriction?

    “2. Restrictions on Use. Unless you have received prior written authorization from Google (or, as applicable, from the provider of particular Content), you must not:
    (a) access or use the Products or any Content through any technology or means other than those provided in the Products, or through other explicitly authorized means Google may designate (such as through the Google Maps/Google Earth APIs);”

    And does this cease and desist ring any bells?

    OS are by no means perfect, but people in glass houses and all that.

  2. Martin Daly

    Well you have to do that, so that OS can count your tile requests.

    But the API and the API key are bound together, so one is not supposed to use one (the key) without the other (the API), as with Google Maps et al.

  3. Justin

    Gavin has been reconnected. The issue is with Googles own Terms and Conditions.

    “These Terms state that by using your content (Ordnance Survey data) in Google Earth you/they grant Google a right to that data (”By submitting, posting or displaying Your Content in the Service, you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute Your Content through the Service and as search results through Google Services”

    The OS are only trying to protect their intellectual property.

  4. Ed

    @Justin, that is the case for data that is published on the web and then indexed by Google, that is not relevant in this case.

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