What is the Geospatial Commission?

In November 2017 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his Autumn Briefing the implementation of a new Geospatial Committee. The committee will look to make Ordnance Survey (OS) MasterMap data open and freely available, enabling UK-based small businesses in particular to access the data, which in turn will boost the economy.

This is an incredible turn of events as Ordnance Survey MasterMap (OSMM) is the best dataset for the whole of Great Britain (GB) showing details of property boundaries, hedges, fences and footpaths that are not currently available as part of the OS Open Data offering.

AGI Open MasterMap Data Webinar Slide

AGI Open MasterMap Data Webinar Slide

Who is in the Geospatial Commission?

The Geospatial Commission has been in development for some time. Currently, the Chief Executive is William Priest and the organisation leading the commission come from the Cabinet Office. Others involved in the Geospatial Commission include Catherine Carter McGrath, Joe Cuddeford, Fiona Booth and Martin Jones mainly drawn from previous managerial positions within the government, as opposed to geographers or business people.

What is the Geospatial Commission’s remit?

The Geospatial Commission doesn’t have its own website or webpage, although the announcement in November does describe its remit:

“The new Commission will draw together HM Land Registry, the Ordnance Survey, the British Geological Survey, the Valuation Office Agency, the UK Hydrographic Office and the Coal Authority with a view to:

  • improving the access to, links between, and quality of their data
  • looking at making more geospatial data available for free and without restriction
  • setting regulation and policy in relation to geospatial data created by the public sector
  • holding individual bodies to account for delivery against the geospatial strategy
  • providing strategic oversight and direction across Whitehall and public bodies who operate in this area” (Cabinet Office and HM Treasury)

What are the challenges for the Geospatial Commission?

Nigel Clifford has stepped down as Ordnance Survey Chief Executive; Neil Ackroyd is Acting Chief Executive, he is a geographer who has experience of leading organisations.

The jewel in the crown for Ordnance Survey is the intellectual property it holds of MasterMap datasets. There will be a huge shift in the way that businesses (and OS Partners) see OSMM. OS is set to lose its revenue stream from local authorities, developers, land-surveyors, architects, landscape architects and land-owners who need to purchase a ‘tile’ to do their work. As a GovCo, Ordnance Survey (OSGB) will be looking to plan other income streams to replace these very lucrative revenues.

What does this mean for businesses?

This is a fantastic opportunity to get Ordnance Survey of Great Britain Master Map data and use it for free, for any use (as long as the original dataset is acknowledged). This means being able to build upon the OS Open Data that already exists to get better accuracy for business requirements.

AGI Open MasterMap Data Webinar Slide

AGI Open MasterMap Data Webinar Slide

The Geospatial Commission (GC) has two years and a budget of £40m to implement an Open Data policy across government. Not only within OSGB, but with HM Land Registry (Property Ownership) too. The Royal Mail owns the process for postcodes (now a PLC). Data was due to be released by the end of May 2018, however, this hasn’t happened. Currently, all plans to release the dataset are on-hold while the Geospatial Commission goes out to consultation.

During the AGI/GeospatialCommission webinar on Monday (25) June 218, the Geospatial Commission outlined the datasets that will be released (the release dates are yet to be advised):

1. Property extents from OSMM Topographic

  •  Questions still to be asked: Vector or Raster?

2. OSMM Topo Layer TOIDS

  • A TOID is a unique identifier, consisting of the letters ‘osgb’ and followed by up to sixteen digits, associated with every feature in many of Ordnance Survey’s large scale products
  • Allowed over OS Open Map, Local
  • Questions still to be asked will the key be available to understand the TOIDS?

3. The rest of OSMM Topographic will be available through an API

  • Including OSMM Topographic; OSMM Greenspace; OSMM Highways Network (Replaces the ITN Dataset); OSMM Water Network (showing course and flow direction); OS Detailed Path Network (in National Parks)
  • Questions still to be asked: Why not release all of the dataset as Vector or Raster? Why only as an API?
AGI Open MasterMap Data Webinar Slide

AGI Open MasterMap Data Webinar Slide

If you want to get your business ready to migrate to the new Ordnance Survey Master Map (OSMM) Open Dataset, then we can help you do that. We love Open Data. Get in touch: +44 (0) 1326 337072 or by email hello@clearmapping.co.uk