Technology

Ordnance Survey releases mapping tool

Screenshot of OS map data Image copyright Ordnance Survey
Image caption The mapping data brings together lots of sources of information about locations

A mapping tool that gives a detailed picture of local information in almost every corner of Great Britain has been released by Ordnance Survey (OS).

The free data set brings together information about crime, business rates, property types, local transport and geographical information.

The OS expects developers and designers to use the tool to improve information people can access via the web.

The local information is one of several data sets the OS has released.

"Good mapping products before now have been there just to get people from A to B," said a spokesman for the OS.

Increasingly, he said, people and businesses wanted more detail from online maps and wanted to get lots of local information about locations from one app or site.

"Now you would struggle to find a firm out there that does not use maps to help its business or that does not underpin its decision-making," said the spokesman.

The OS is not creating a new Google Maps-style service of its own, but is rather providing its data for use by other third-party apps and online tools that can use it to enhance their products.

The data set could be used by people looking to start a cafe to find out if any rivals were located nearby, if business rates were high, how many people live near the site and to check local crime statistics and their influence on insurance.

The map data includes 460 million separate features and includes information about the footprint and boundaries of buildings and organisations as well as the names of streets, neighbourhoods and regions.

Suggestions about what types of information to make available came from the community of people already using OS mapping data, said the spokesman.

One requested feature involves being able to change the colour palette in which information is presented which could lead to maps tuned for people with different types of colour-blindness.

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