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Thursday, 25 September 2008

THE ORDNANCE SURVEY AND THE OPSI

I have had an incredibly interesting evening on two fronts - one on the family front, that I won't go into here and the other to do with my old friends at the Ordnance Survey.

About a week or so ago I was emailed a report on one of the ePSIplus meetings that had just taken place over in Europe. To refresh your memories, the ePSIplus thematic network is a European body set up to ensure the new rules on Public Sector Information are carried out correctly in member States.

One of the PSI holders is the Ordnance Survey - the fine organisation that maps the UK for you & me and publishes the maps and licenses all the data in electronic formats as well. One such of the electronic formats are my Anquet Maps (as will be the more popular Memory Maps as well).

For some time I had been in communication with the OS asking if it was okay to put my maps on my not-for-profit blog (this one you are reading). This was to show the route taken on each of my 103 walking days of my 1,687 miles Land's End to John O' Groats walk for the Sue Ryder Care charity. They were to be displayed alongside the text of the blog for each day. I had a long, protracted discussion of emails and telephone conversations but the upshot of it all was that under no circumstances what-so-ever would I be allowed to display my maps on my blog. They offered me a couple of alternatives that after discussions with the OS, even they agreed would not be appropriate for my needs.

A little while later I noticed that the OS had brought out something ("Open Space") that meant I could show my route in a moveable window of about 4km square that meant it would be possible to move the map inside the window by clicking on it and dragging it along the line of my route.

That seemed marvelous and so my campaign to put my maps on my blog hit the back-burner for a while. However, when I came to try and use the tool, I found it absolutely incomprehensible! It transpired it was meant to be a tool for 'developers' and not ordinary mortals like me. This put me right back to square one.

So, when I received the latest report from the ePSIplus thematic network I re-girded my loins and emailed them for help.

Tonight, the excellent Chris Corbin rang me (he is on the ePSIplus group) and listened to my tale of woe. He had already posted four of my blog posts on the ePSIplus blog just under a year ago when this all started. I was talking to a chap who really understood my point of view and who also seemed to agree with me that this was all complete bonkers on the part of the O.S.

He has now put me in touch with the Standards Manager at the OPSI (the Office for Public Sector Information) in London to see if she can mediate between me and the wonderful Ordnance Survey. So - thank you Chris - you are one of life's shiny stars.

I will let you all know how it goes. (Phew! That was a long one!)

2 comments:

  1. Hi Alan.

    As the person who made me aware of the Ordnance Survey OpenSpace thingy via your blog postings, I thought you might like to know I've finally got around to implementing it on my LEJOG site. If you want to see it in action, pop over to www.landsendjohnogroats.info, pick a walk, click on the 'View a map of this walk' link in the right-hand bat, and there's a new 'OS map' link just above the map. Click on this and, hey presto, the Google Map changes into an OS map.

    If you zoom in, the map switches to 1:50,000 and then to a more detailed view. Sadly, 1:25,000 isn't supported in OpenSpace, but it's a start.

    OpenSpace is nowhere near as powerful as Google Maps, and there are some strange bugs in it, but it's nice to see LEJOG routes on OS maps - their proper home, I reckon.

    Mark

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  2. Mark
    What can I say - Briliant!

    Is it yet possible for mere mortals to do this? Last time I looked at doing it was like Greek to me.

    I notice that an awful lot of blogs these days put OS maps on their blogs but I am wary to do this as the OS Nazis would be on to me like a shot I am sure, if past experience is anything to go by.

    Now that I have my wife out of my hair (mostly) I do have more time, so I may well take up the battle again with the O.S. to get maps on my blog in a away that I understand, FOC, legally.

    Many thanks for pointing me to your triumph, fella - nice to see you again.

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