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Ordnance Survey Thoughts

Now why was that so difficult ?

Yesterday the Prime Minister announced that many of the data products produced by Ordnance Survey are too be made “open data” free for download and use by both indivuduals and commerical organsiations in the UK.

Our data has been freed ?

Well of course we will still have to see the details but this is a massive step forward and huge kudos needs to be paid to all those who have worked behind the scenes lobbying for this change and of course those who have been much more visible in their campaign. Congratulations Charles !!

The impact of Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt is raising the value of free data on the political agenda was also clearly important and perhaps was the final push in the finally balanced arguments between the treasury and cabinet office.

Is the world about to end now in Southampton?

Of course not, many myself included have often made the point that there are in actual fact two data businesses at the OS. The one which produces large scale detailed and up to date data for use by government and customers in the utility sectors and  the other which produces the rest and which actually accounts of a relatively small proportion of the revenues of the OS.

It is this second business that is impacted here, the people who continue to license OS Mastermap and Address Layer will not be impacted by this move, and the OS will not see a massive fall in revenue as a result.

On the other hand at least some of the following datasets should be made available for free, and we can expect to see many new products and services appear as a result..

  • Boundary-Line™
  • Code-Point®
  • Code-Point®  with polygons
  • Land-Form PROFILE®
  • Land-Form PROFILE® Plus
  • Land-Form PANORAMA®
  • Meridian™ 2
  • OS VectorMap™ Local

Make no mistake this is something that has been forced on the OS by Government, the OS did not appear to be represented at the announcement yesterday and there is only a terse statement on the OS website reflecting this change in direction.

This is a shame, the leadership of the OS could have been more proactive in realising the value of their information came from its wider distribution not from following a business model based on its scarcity.

Written and submitted from Pan Pacific Hotel, Singapore (01.293N, 103.859W)

24 replies on “Now why was that so difficult ?”

[…] Choice Four. Go with The Ordnance Survey. Yes, you read that right. Earlier this month the UK Government announced that many of the Ordnance Survey’s data products were to be made available as open data and for free download. Whilst it’s not the complete opening that the Guardian’s Free Our Data campaign has been, err, campaining for, it’s a start. It’s taken a while but as ex-OS and Google Geo Technologist Ed Parsons put it “Now why was that so difficult“? […]

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