Data Policy Ordnance Survey

DataSF : A example for UK Local Authorities to follow ?

While UK Local Authorities still struggle to provide public access to their geospatial data because of the bizarre OS rules on derived data, the residents of San Francisco have much rich data at their disposal.

Following on from the federal portal launched earier this year, DataSF – DataSF is a local version providing access to government data sets for download in common files formats.


This really is not something difficult to do, and allows both citizens potential entrepreneurs access to information their taxes have funded the collection and development of in the first place.

From an industry insider point of view this approach is of note also because rather than building a complex metedata driven portal, a simple download site has been built quickly with the focus on making information accessible.

It would be great to see some UK local Authorities follow this example, but I fear there is a small snag..

Who owns the data ?

Written and submitted from the Google Office, London

2 replies on “DataSF : A example for UK Local Authorities to follow ?”

Couldn’t agree more. The OS rules on derived data makes sharing of information difficult.

The OS provide excellent maps, but their restrictions mean we have to look elsewhere for new leaders in the mapping arena. Thankfully Google has at least opened up mapping for everybody, something that’s been sadly lacking from Ordnance Survey.

Unfortunately it takes time to create data not based on OS coords or background information, but it will happen because who wants to limit distribution of their data by antiquated OS rules.

Thanks Ed, I needed somewhere to express my disgust at the mapping situation in the UK.

UK local authorities are indeed following this example and a new directory on the eGov Register now holds links to local government Open Data which is made available for public re-use. This is pretty limited at the moment but hopefully the situation will improve and this can be monitored via the eGov Register.


Any type of data can be recorded in the directory and if it is in KML there is a link to allow you to preview the dataset using Google Maps.

It’s true that at the moment most LA location data will have been created using OS maps and thus cannot be provided for public re-use under current licensing rules. But increasingly local authorities will begin to use alternative sources for their public facing geo-spatial data and this will allow them to provide Open Data which can be freely re-used.

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