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Geographic data leads the way to better healthcare -  2500 organisations signed up to PSMA

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Wednesday, November 7th 2012
Ordnance Survey | Southhampton,UK

More NHS organisations than ever before are using innovative mapping technologies to help improve local health services.  From reducing obesity in Birmingham to plotting hotspots of low immunisation take up in Essex, Ordnance Survey’s intelligent geographic information is being used in a wide range of settings to inform healthcare decision-making.

Accessing digital maps has never been easier thanks to the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) – a centrally funded licensing agreement between Government and Ordnance Survey which allows geographic data to be widely available, free at the point of use and shared between all public sector organisations across England and Wales.  

A record 2,500 public sector organisations have now registered for the PSMA, including around 100 hospital trusts, all 12 ambulance trusts and more than two thirds of NHS authorities. With responsibility for public health due to move across to local authorities in April 2013, the availability of open and shared geographical data through the Public sector community is making a real difference to collaborative working and effective health service planning. 

James Brayshaw, Ordnance Survey’s Customer Director, says:

“There are many examples from around the country which provide powerful evidence that geographic information not only helps the NHS do more for less but it helps deliver real improvements to local health services.  With new technologies making mapping and reference data easier to use and the public sector agreement allowing information to be shared between all public sector agencies, we hope that more healthcare organisations will start using Ordnance Survey data to underpin their services and create a real momentum for GIS in the NHS.”

In the Midlands, Birmingham NHS is using Ordnance Survey geographic information to map hot food takeaways near schools in a city wide programme to reduce soaring obesity rates. By overlaying data on to interactive digital maps, public health officials found that 71 per cent of all primary and secondary schools in the city have a hot food takeaway within 400 metres. As a result, the city council has now introduced new rules to control the number of unhealthy fast food outlets located near a school and within local centres.  Several applications have been refused on these grounds already.

“Obesity is a major public health problem in Birmingham.  While the determinants of obesity are complex and inter related, social and environmental factors clearly have an influence.  The city has a large number of hot food takeaways close to schools and local centres. The use of maps helps us to accurately describe where they are located and to tackle their spread,” says Dr Iris Fermin, Head of Public Health Information and Intelligence at Birmingham Public Health.

Other examples of how geographic information is making a big difference in service planning and delivery include:

In North Essex, digital maps are widely used by the local health authority to improve access to services and recently pinpointed low use of immunisation and vaccinations.   The information identified where resources should be targeted more effectively.

In the North East, up-to-date and accurate Ordnance Survey digital mapping is helping call centre staff to quickly and accurately identify the correct locations of incidents as well as supporting the region’s new 111 non emergency service.

For more information and to join the PSMA, visit the public sector section of the Ordnance Survey website at


Ordnance Survey is Great Britain’s national mapping agency, providing the most accurate and up-to-date geographic data, relied on by government, business and individuals.

For more information from Ordnance Survey, please contact:

Melanie Osborne – Corporate Communications Manager on 023 8005 5062 or


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