Ordnance Survey frees up mapping data

Ordnance Survey frees up mapping data, but can it compete with the likes of Google Maps?

Mapping agency Ordnance Survey launches a new service this week offering free and unrestricted access to many of its maps for the first time.

Following extensive public consultation, OS OpenData is set to be launched by Communities Secretary John Denham today.

Denham hoped it would attract "a new wave of entrepreneurs" to reuse the OS' mapping data in new and innovative ways and help to place the UK at the "cutting edge of a digital revolution".

Wider cultural change

Mr Denham said the new scheme was part and parcel of changes which, "signal a wider cultural change in Government based on an assumption that information should be in the public domain unless there is a good reason not to - not the other way around.

"Greater openness, accountability and transparency in Government will give people greater choice and make it easier for individuals to get more directly involved in issues that matter to them."

People have used the limited free data that was previously available via OS OpenSpace to create safe cycling and rambling routes, or provide maps with locations of local post and phone boxes.

OS OpenData is part of the government's "Making Public Data Public" initiative launched by the Prime Minister last November.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee said of the move: "I'm delighted that the Ordnance Survey is releasing this data for free re-use," said Sir Tim.