It’s funny how sometimes you can have a couple of conversations with people, which all seem to be coming from the same perspective but are unrelated. This happened to me last week in talking to a few people about Mastermap and peoples perception of it.
Mastermap was launched almost exactly four years ago and has been an increasing success built on a slow start. But to what extent are people really exploiting the fact that this is a geographic information product – not digital mapping.
You may not recognise that the image above is actually a rendering of Mastermap Topo data, because it does not following the “standard” style developed by the OS.
OSMM “House style”
The Mastermap house style is very good at demonstrating the fact that Mastermap is a full polygon dataset with each feature shaded, but nobody would argue that it is in cartographic terms very flexible.
Why do we at the OS and many of how customers follow the convention created four years ago and still displaying Mastermap in this way?
I and a number of people I have spoken to believe it that it is because we still perceive MasterMap as a cartographic product – a Map!
The reality of course is that MasterMap is a database, which may be rendered using any number of cartographic styles relevant to particular needs, if you want it to look like Landline you can indeed simply change the style remove the polygon fill and there you have it.
The real benefit of Mastermap like any other geographic information dataset is the attributes of each feature and the intelligent relationships between them, not something that is every easily visible from looking at a cartographic rendering.
We need to change the way we think about products like Mastermap and start to exploit the fact we are using geographic information not just digital maps.
It is as if we were at stage where we have replaced our horse drawn carts with motorcars, but have yet to realise there is actually a engine in them.