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Digital life: We know where we're going with these apps

As the Ordnance Survey releases four more digital products, Katie Wright finds her way to mapping the historic company's rise in the digital field

Published 04/04/2015

On the map: OS is embracing the modern age with digital services
On the map: OS is embracing the modern age with digital services

Remember Ordnance Survey maps? Those giant green sheets that were an indispensable part of geography field trips in your school days?

If you thought they'd folded for good, usurped by the likes of Google Street View and Citymapper, you'd be wrong. On the contrary, the 224-year-old agency is doing a fine trade in digital mapping services and has just released four new products.

OS Open Map Local is the most detailed street-level map available, combining rural and urban features and buildings as well as other data including property prices, population and crime statistics.

Open Names is a search tool collating more than 2.5 million locations that can be used to power the search feature on websites or apps.

On the more geographical side, Open Rivers maps out waterways and flood risk areas, while Open Roads is a road network that pinpoints accident hotspots.

The new quartet is indispensable for businesses - from entrepreneurs planning where to position a new restaurant or shop, to salespeople deciding where to focus their efforts.

They've already garnered 10,000 downloads in the first 24 hours, adding to the more than one million total downloads since OpenData first launched in 2010.

There are now 16 products in total, showing terrain, post codes, boundary lines and more, and all free to use as long as OS is credited.

The portfolio has been used to create apps and to visualise data, from major players like Google and Bing to the couple who are attempting to visit every historic church in Great Britain (

It all adds up to a prime example of a company with a rich history embracing digital tech remarkably well, and helping others to innovate along the way.

"I am confident these new open data developments will be welcomed across the public and private sector and that it may inspire a new wave of developers and entrepreneurs to work with OS data," says Neil Ackroyd, Ordnance Survey's acting director general and chief executive.

"I am particularly keen to see the new street level product being used across mobile and online services and applications, as it provides an unmatched level of detail at the national level."

Download OS OpenData products from

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