Last December 2009 the UK Department for the Communities and Local Government (DCLG) announced proposals for the provision of free data from the Ordnance Survey. The consultation closes on the 17th March 2010.
The consultation document is titled: Policy options for geographic information from Ordnance Survey Consultation. ISBN: 978 1 4098 2100 7.
The DCLG announcement states:
“The possible range of products under consideration for release as part of the ‘Ordnance Survey Free’ includes:
‘Raster’ products in a range of scales from 1:10,000 to 1:1 000 000 that will enable developers to produce an application that overlays their information on a map and to zoom-in from a national view down to the street level; Definitive gazetteer, boundary and postcode information that will enable widespread use of these commonly used geographies and act as a link between other government data sets which reference the same geography;
Small-scale vector mapping products which would enable developers to link between boundary, postcode and mapping data.”
You can see what we will get to use more widely via Where is the Path?. The 1:10000 is interesting. While I welcome the proposal as a step in the right direction but the data to be freed does not include the large scale vector Mastermap (which views well at 1:1250 and 1:500) that shows building outlines, boundaries, kerb-lines, and much detailed geographical data is referenced against it, so releasing it for free incorporation in web applications would allow much easier access to all sorts of records,.
While even with present system we have sites that show data against such as gov’t MAGIC we would get more and ability to have this sort of data across many web applications.
An example of existing web service using OS Master Map is Fix My Street. I envisage all sorts of similar services where users can select location on the map.
Another example of sort of data referenced against Ordnance Survey large scale maps is location of utilities underground such as pipelines and cables, if the data for these was open that allow quicker easier access to such records by those who may which to check where they are before digging. At moment one can apply to each major utility for copies of maps showing utilities and do search via services such as Linesearch which will enable application to various underground asset owners, but open web access would I am sure ensure such record are checked more often with more up to date versions on site.
Now it seems maybe there are plans even within framework of present copyright agreements with OS to maybe do this. See NUAG website. But a report by NUAG notes on page 36 concerns that ‘The relatively high price of Ordnance Survey maps will continue to militate against widespread use of the most accurate versions unless more reasonable prices apply. There is an argument that map information should be free, or near free, particularly on health and safety grounds; this would unlock a great deal of its potential, and encourage much wider use, leading to more accurate information’.
The making available for free distribution of such utility asset data into various third party websites such as Open Street Map would push forward innovation.
Open free use of OS Mastermap would also allow companies to enable greater integration of systems with each other.
Here are questions that responses are invited as part of consultation:
“Question 1: What are your views or comments on the policy drivers for this consultation?
Question 2: What are your views on how the market for geographic information has evolved recently and is likely to develop over the next 5-10 years?
Question 3: What are your views on the appropriate pricing model for Ordnance Survey products and services?
Question 4: What are your views and comments on public sector information regulation and policy, and the concepts of public task and good governance as they apply to Ordnance Survey?
Question 5: What are your views and comments on the products under consideration for release for free re-use and the rationale for their inclusion?
Question 6: How much do you think government should commit to funding the free product set? How might this be achieved?
Question 7: What are your views on how free data from Ordnance Survey should be delivered?
Question 8: What are your views on the impact Ordnance Survey Free will have on the market?
Question 9: What are your comments on the proposal for a single National Address Register and suggestions for mechanisms to deliver it?
Question 10: What are your views on the options outlined in this consultation?
Question 11: For local authorities: What will be the balance of impact of these proposals on your costs and revenues?
Question 12: Will these proposals have any impact on race, gender or disability equalities?”
I may later update this blog with my responses.