Ordnance Survey Thoughts

Unlike LOST, the derived data saga continues

Not 300m from the site of one end of William Roy’s original baseline for the first Ordnance Survey of Great Britain, the modern Ordnance Survey yesterday held it’s annual business partner conference.

Well for me it was a strange experience, sitting in the audience at an Ordnance Survey partner event (although Google is not a partner) just a few months after it seems the world fell apart around the directors of the OS – talk about a LOST style flash sideways.

It became clear soon into Vanessa Lawrence’s presentation that the organisation is still recovering from these traumatic events, and that there is not a vision yet for the future of an OS that both produces commercial and free data sets.

OS Lost at Sea ?

There were 3 key aspects to the keynote;

  • The release of the free data was as many  suspected  forced upon the OS, and there is still some internal resistance to the whole idea at the top of the organisation.
  • The building of the new OS Head Office is going according to plan, although it always seems to rain when Vanessa is onsite !
  • The Queen will be opening the new building (Did I say the building was on time)

Key issues for the partner community in terms of complex pricing and licensing models remain, work on solving those has been delayed it appears as a result of all the “free data” nonsense, although a new more simple model is promised in the future.

The big issue of derived data also remains, although to his credit in the Q&A session, Peter ter Haar aimed to clarify things by reading out from his iPad a draft version of what OS view is derived data. This it is promised will also be released soon, but to paraphrase;

Derived data concerns the direct copying and manipulation of features which exist within an OS data product. If new data which does not appear within the OS data is captured with reference to OS data, then this data is inferred, not derived, so it’s OK !

Of course the free OS data has no “derived data” limitations..

I asked for the OS to communicate this on their website as some form of White paper, again we await this with interest.

Of interest clearly to OS partners in addition to pricing and licensing and the future role of OS Ltd, which was only briefly mentioned are products..

Here the OS seems to be making real progress the new VectorMap series is at last demonstrating the capability of the OS to produce products that are fit for purpose for electronic rather than paper mapping, John Carpenter delivered an excellent presentation on these new data products and the philosophy behind them, this truly was a breath of fresh air.

Clearly it has been a difficult year for the OS, the landscape has changed massively and continues to do so, Vanessa hinted that the new government spending cuts have already started to have a impact, perhaps as Thierry is suggesting a reduction in the subsidy promised to deliver free mapping?

More than ever the OS needs a new vision fit for such a radically changing environment, embracing the freemium model which has been imposed on them and establishing their role within a very different UK and global geospatial industry.

The new building deserves a new vision ?

Written and submitted from home (51.425N, 0.331W)

4 replies on “Unlike LOST, the derived data saga continues”

“Derived data concerns the direct copying and manipulation of features which exist within an OS data product. If new data which does not appear within the OS data is captured with reference to OS data, then this data is inferred, not derived, so it’s OK ”

At first read this is a major change – does it mean that OS will no longer be considering LLPG address locations derived data and thus free of their IP interests? What abbout data using the electoral and census boundaries created by the OS?

Grant, I would imagine that would depend on how you are capturing the information in your LLPG. If you place a point on the map, possibly (though I’m not sure on the copyright of populating your data with Eastings and Northings from British National Grid, which is technically property of OS), but if you capture the entire property extent for your BLPU then you would be using a direct copy or manipulation from an OS product and this would be derived data.

Ed, do you know where I would be able to get a copy of the presentation by John Carpenter? Have they made it available online at all?

Interesting news Ed, thanks for sharing.

@ Grant – I don’t believe this would affect OS’ claim of IPR in the NLPG, as the basis of this claim is the use of AddressPoint for geocoding at the point of creation. However, as a gazetteer custodian, I could quite easily demonstrate that a large percentage of my LLPG has since been repositioned from those co-ordinates (with reference to OS MasterMap), and therefore would argue that they would fall into the new ‘inferred’ category. It would be interesting to analyse this, and perhaps an argument could be made that only a % of the dataset may be classed as ‘derived’ – though I doubt this would hold much sway with the OS!

On the whole, I feel there is a need for some kind of independent arbitrator here to determine what is and what isn’t a ‘derived dataset.’

Certainly a positive sign though, even if the wording isn’t far removed from past rhetoric.

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