Mapping UK stories – does the Ordnance Survey have a role?
I’ve had an approach from Scott Sinclair, Head of Corporate Communications at Ordnance Survey, the national mapping agency for the UK. They have recently launched a mash-up API for non-commercial development at http://openspace.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/openspace/ – and he wanted to know how to involve journalists.
Now I think this is a great opportunity for the OS. Google Maps, as demonstrated by my mapping of OJB readers (you can still add yourself by the way), is not as usable as one would like. And the OS already have relationships with picture desks and news websites who make use of their mapping royalty-free to illustrate stories: around 200 publications have long-term royalty-free licences and “many more come to us for one-off uses,” according to Scott.
So here’s what Scott says about the API:
“It is aimed at web developers who want to experiment with our data. It goes down to street corner level and you can see the outlines of buildings.“It is not intended as a commercial route but I am keen to take a proposal to colleagues who work in our commercial licensing team as to whether something like this API could be made available to online journalists for precisely the sorts of uses we see Google maps being used for – i.e. using a mapping interface to reference all the stories that relate to a particular location.“Press Gazette, as you will know, has covered lots of stories about British newspapers beginning to look at this in an interactive way so people can read stories relevant to where they live, post comments and share views and so on.“I wondered if you might have any thoughts as to whether online journalists would be interested in the level of detail that Ordnance Survey provides or whether Google is so far entrenched now that the market is already well served. As you say, it looks like 2008 will see more and more mapping applications emerging and I’m just keen to know how we can best serve journalists given the fact we map all of Great Britain to a high level of detail but we are not an “application provider” as such.“Any advice would be much appreciated.”