Government ensures free access to some Ordnance Survey maps

Gordon Brown, Liam Byrne and Sir Tim Berners-Lee at the Smarter Government seminar at Downing Street, 17th November 2009

Gordon Brown, Liam Byrne and Sir Tim Berners-Lee at the Smarter Government seminar at Downing Street, 17th November 2009

Photo of Smarter Government seminar by Downing Street

Some Ordnance Survey maps are to be made available to businesses and the public, as part of the Government’s drive to open up data to improve transparency.

Speaking at a seminar yesterday on Smarter Government in Downing Street, attended by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt, the Prime Minister and Communities Secretary John Denham set out how the Government and Ordnance Survey, Great Britain’s national mapping agency, will open up its data relating to electoral and local authority boundaries, postcode areas and mid scale mapping information.

This data would be released for free re-use, including commercially.

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said:

‘We live in exciting times; a digital age of high-speed communications and information just a click away that is transforming our daily routines. Technological advances and rising customer expectations are revolutionising how we all do things.  Today’s announcement responds to the demands for better use and access to data held by government.  In this new world, smarter government is not an option but a necessity.’

As it’s estimated that 80% of public sector data has a spatial element (the data is linked to a place), opening up access to the Ordnance Survey’s maps will ensure data, including Government statistics, are readily available and mapped. This will provide users with greater opportunities to examine the world around them and propose alternative ways of doing things.

According to Communities Secretary, John Denham:

‘This can only happen if the necessary information and data about what is currently delivered is easily and readily available. Ordnance Survey is a world renowned mapping expert and making the data they hold about local areas, like council boundaries and postcodes, readily available is an important first step to a more open government.

We want people to be able to compare the outcomes and the costs for their own local services with the services delivered elsewhere, and suggest means of improving and driving change that help cut out duplication and waste, and make sure that every pound of public money is working as hard as it can.’

This free access to some datasets will also assist in sharing data across all levels of national, regional and local government, as well as with regional partners and the general public.

Minister for Digital Britain, Stephen Timms, who has responsibility for the Making Public Data Public initiative, said:

‘This is an important step in our public data strategy. Making public data available also enables people to reuse it in different and more imaginative ways than may have originally been intended.  Estimates suggest that this could generate as much as a billion pounds for the UK economy.’

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