Innovation and changeDigital TransformationParts of OS MasterMap to be unlocked

Parts of OS MasterMap to be unlocked

UK government announces a step forward in opening up geospatial data, but critics warn there is a lot more to do

Key parts of the OS MasterMap will be made openly available for the public and businesses to use, a move the Government says will boost the UK economy by at least £130m each year, as innovative companies and startups use the data.

The release of OS MasterMap data is one of the first projects to be delivered by the new Geospatial Commission, in conjunction with Ordnance Survey. The aim is to continue to drive forward the UK as a world leader in location data, helping to grow the UK’s digital economy by an estimated £11bn each year.

This is a step on a journey towards more open geospatial data infrastructure for the UK.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, David Lidington, said: “Opening up OS MasterMap underlines this Government’s commitment to ensuring the UK continues to lead the way in digital innovation. Releasing this valuable government data for free will help stimulate innovation in the economy, generate jobs and improve public services.

“Location-aware technologies – using geospatial data – are revolutionising our economy. From navigating public transport to tracking supply chains and planning efficient delivery routes, these digital services are built on location data that has become part of everyday life and business.

“The newly available data should be particularly useful to small firms and entrepreneurs to realise their ideas and compete with larger organisations, encouraging greater competition and innovation.”

Emerging technologies

OS MasterMap data already supports emerging technologies such as driverless vehicles, 5G and connected cities – important drivers of economic growth.

Today’s announcement follows the launch of the first GovTech challenge in May this year, a competition designed to incentivise Britain’s tech firms to come up with innovative solutions to improve public services. These competitions will be delivered using the £20m GovTech fund launched by the Prime Minister in November 2017.

Neil Ackroyd, Interim CEO of Ordnance Survey said: “Ordnance Survey holds the most accurate and comprehensive set of location data for Great Britain, making public sector services work more efficiently and helping to build innovative businesses across every sector of the economy.

“Since its launch in 2001, OS MasterMap has been one of the most comprehensive and detailed geospatial reference datasets in the world. This latest development is another step on Ordnance Survey’s open data journey. We’re looking forward to supporting the Geospatial Commission in making this data more accessible and more widely used.”

Further information on the announcement can be found here.

Not enough

However, the plans have been criticised for not going far enough. Jeni Tennison, CEO of the Open Data Institute responded to the announcement by saying: “We welcome the recent release of some of the Ordnance Survey’s MasterMap data. It is a step in the right direction, allowing flexible use of open property boundary data. Some other data will be freely accessible, but this won’t satisfy users requiring large amounts of data or more flexibility.

“Geospatial data is an essential part of our national data infrastructure, and one that is evolving rapidly. As part of our innovation programme we’re exploring how to support and enable the publication and use of open geospatial data from a number of providers by government and businesses. We hope to see government give the Geospatial Commission the power it needs to create a fairer and more sustainable data ecosystem.”

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