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back to article UK.gov folds over Ordnance Survey map data

The government has released some Ordnance Survey mapping data for free re-use to British citizens today, in response to public consultation that got underway in December last year. It said it would make a handful of OS datasets freely available for use by the likes of developers wanting to mash up data for UK websites. The …

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Good news

...but the site is overwhelmed at the moment

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Anonymous Coward

Anybody managed to register yet?

Seems like demand is so high the web site can't cope.

http://openspace.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/openspace/ keeps coming and going, and the register button just times out.

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Paris Hilton

I cant get on the site either...

If I was feeling particularly malicious I would say that this is probably OS getting their own back - by hiring Paris as webserver admin!

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Awesome news

But these are LARGE datasets (esp. the 50,000:1 set) so who is paying for the bandwidth? Sounds slightly half-baked to me.

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Unhappy

Oh ignore me #^

These look like web APIs rather than "loose data". So much for my whole-UK-based GTA ripoff :(

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Mmmm OSData tastes so good....

Finally some OS data to play with guilt free...

Try this http://bit.ly/9oQjH3, its a MySociety cache of OS OpenData. You'll probably need software like ArcGIS (or an OpenSource equivalent!) to some of the datasets (apart from Codepoint which you could view as text its CSV file...).

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*register* ?!?

Why isn't it just sat on a S3 share, or a magnet URI, or something that scales ?

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Yucky openspace

I hope the government give us the raw data files and don't make us do everything via Openspace. Openspace is like a 3rd world version of Google or Bing maps with a terrible interface, limited API and is just very slow and clunky.

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Anonymous Coward

Shome mishtake, shurely?

"Meanwhile, Harry Metcalf, co-founder of UK postcode lookup service ErnestMarples.com, welcomed today's data release. He had urged the government to open up more of its OS datasets after his own site was forced to shut down last autumn following a legal threat from the Royal Mail."

I know this has been said many times by many commentards, but it bears saying again. The PAF has nothing at all to do with the OS. So quite why you would seek a comment from Metcalf is beyond me. Metcalf is a classic freetard, he wants to make a business out of somebody else's data.

The PAF isn't even linked directly to mapping data, the PAF links street addresses to postcodes and it's main use to RM is in sorting mail for delivery routes. It's NOT about tieing postcodes to a map reference, which is useful but wouldn't help you plan a delivery route as such.

Private companies most common use is nothing to do with deliveries or linking postcodes or addresses to spatial data. The most common commercial use of the PAF is in automatic address filling, that is to say when a web page or call centre operative asks you for a house number and postcode and automatically fills your complete postal address from this information. Quite why this should be available free to anybody is beyond me. Getting that information in bulk is of no use to private individual and it's already available from the RM website at the rate of 10 addresses a day, which would be more than any private individual would need.

Since UK.gov want to privatise RM I can't seem them giving away one of it's assets for free.

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title

"Quite why this should be available free to anybody is beyond me."

Perhaps because as a taxpayer it actually belongs to them?

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Don't call me shurely

"The PAF isn't even linked directly to mapping data, the PAF links street addresses to postcodes and it's main use to RM is in sorting mail for delivery routes. It's NOT about tieing postcodes to a map reference, which is useful but wouldn't help you plan a delivery route as such."

Indeed, and in fact while you can link a post code to a map reference, it isn't a very specific map reference, the ''centroid' of a postal code area (the actual map ref) is pointed at whatever property happens to be closest to the approximate centre of a given post code's geographic coverage. Since post codes often cover largeish areas, and are not always regular shapes, this is not always particularly helpful. Which is, for instance, why Tesco's and other delivery drivers often get lost, because when you enter a post code into your COTS gps system that happily claims to know the location of all 7 digit UK postcodes, this is the location it points you to.

Last time I had a licence for PAF, it didn't include the centroid mappings. Even it did, they aren't that much use. What you need is street number mappings, which are not AFAIK kept by RM, or in many cases, at all. Some local councils have some data of this nature, I believe, though I don't know how much of it would be conveniently available in neat sets, rather than distributed across several hundred years worth of surveyors documents and paper planning records.

A-Z use sub sets of them, so some must be available, although it is worth pointing out that the original A-Z maps using this scheme were created by walking around and looking at stuff.

Sometimes, you just have to build your own data set.

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Unhappy

Still not there?

I'm looking now, not seeing anything overtly like a 'Download' link. We Want Data!

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Shome mishtake, shurely?

>Quite why this should be available free to anybody is beyond me

Because it's public data, collected by a public monopoly at public expense - that they then charge the public for?

A better reason to make it free is to encourage people to use it.

The tiny amount (a few million) that they make from selling PAF to junk mail firms is much less than the savings from sorting improperly addressed letters.

The main reason is that the RM would prefer to deliver nothing but junk mail - the last thing they want to do is to encourage the public to send letters.

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Erm ...

"The main reason is that the RM would prefer to deliver nothing but junk mail - the last thing they want to do is to encourage the public to send letters."

How on earth would PDing PAF lead to the public sending more letters ? Enquiring minds need to know.

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PAF

The Royal Mail postcode database pales in comparison to the OS's Adress Layer 2 product (http://bit.ly/OS_AL2). It provides grid references for every postal point in the britain, as well as non postal points, and links this data to a few datasets including the Royal Mail PAF. It has great data quality info also, informing of the data it was added to the dataset, how it was obtained, and a level confidence.

Wonder if there's any chance of this data being released for download. Even without the PAF data attached to it, it would still be nice to see this available.

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Unhappy

Northern Ireland?

Unfortunately the Northern Ireland data has not been made available... :-(

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