Unlocking of Government’s mapping and location data to boost economy by £130m a year

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  • OS MasterMap data to become freely available for businesses up and down the United Kingdom
  • Minister says this will help generate jobs and boost the UK economy by £130m a year
  • This is the first project delivered by the new Geospatial Commission with Ordnance Survey

 Making key parts of the Ordnance Survey (OS) MasterMap freely available will help businesses use geospatial data more easily and drive innovation across the UK economy.

As part of the Prime Minister’s London Tech Week roundtable today, the Government has announced that key parts of the OS MasterMap will be made openly available for the public and businesses to use.

 It is estimated that this will boost the UK economy by at least £130m each year, as innovative companies and startups use the data. This is a step on a journey towards more open geospatial data infrastructure for the UK

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.”

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.”

The £11bn figure was calculated according to HM Treasury’s Green Book guidelines and by a bottom-up economic analysis of the opportunities in the public and private sectors.

 The government estimates that opening OS MasterMap in this way will release around £130m to the UK Economy. This would be through a combination of the OS data becoming freely available, the ability to release additional public datasets derived from the OS MasterMap by other public sector organisations, and the indirect benefits to the wider economy.

This is in response to the 2017 Autumn Budget commitment to “establish how to open up freely the OS MasterMap data to UK-based small businesses in particular, under an Open Government Licence or through an alternative mechanism, while maintaining the OS’s strategic strengths”.

 The datasets that will, upon implementation of the policy changes, become available under the Open Government Licence (OGL) are:

Property extents created from OS MasterMap Topography Layer; and

OSMM Topography Layer TOIDs (TOpographic IDentifiers) will be incorporated into the features in OS OpenMap-Local.

 Furthermore, over the next 12 months the Geospatial Commission will work with GeoPlace, the LGA, the Improvement Service (on behalf of Scottish Local Government), and OS to investigate opening up the key identifiers UPRN and USRN, together with their respective geometries, for the whole of Great Britain under OGL terms. This work must protect the integrity and authority of these identifiers, so as to provide both businesses and public sector organisations with the confidence to continue to rely on these within their own products and services, without restricting their ability to use and benefit from them.

 Opening these data under OGL will not only provide additional valuable data into the ecosystem, but also remove barriers to enable other organisations to publish more of their data created using these elements (derived data) and make it easier for users to link and locate datasets.

 The datasets that will be made available for free up to a threshold of transactions are:

OS MasterMap Topography Layer, including building heights and functional sites;

OS MasterMap Greenspace Layer;

OS MasterMap Highways Network;

OS MasterMap Water Network Layer; and

OS Detailed Path Network.

 By addressing these barriers to use, these changes will enable businesses of all sizes to access not only OS’s high quality data, but to also geospatial data more widely to unlock economic value. In particular:

  • Significantly more geospatial data will be open for businesses and developers to use, free and without restriction;
  • Small businesses and start-ups will be able to experiment with the data using the free threshold;
  • The housing market will be boosted - for example, because of identification of potential development sites which aren’t currently registered.

The Geospatial Commission is being established, and will consult on a UK-wide geospatial strategy later this year

 

 

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