Consultation on making Ordnance Survey mapping data freely available

Person from Ordnance Survey submitting geographic data on a handheld computer

Ian Austin, Regional Minister for the West Midlands and Communities Minister, outlined proposals at the end of December 2009 on how to make Ordnance  Survey mapping data freely available, so that the data can be re-used in innovative applications and products.

Communities and Local Government launched a consultation on 23 December 2009, Policy options for geographic information from Ordnance Survey, on which Ordnance Survey datasets can be made freely available to support digital innovation and democratic accountability.

You can view the consultation PDF here or use this online form to tell the government what you think.

The deadline for consultation responses is 17 March 2010.

OS data is used heavily here in the Observatory and by partner organisations. It’d be interesting to hear what you think and the issues you’re feeding back in the consultation. Do let us know in the comments.

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Observatory map featured in top 10 government data visualisations and applications

An interactive map produced by the Observatory has been featured in The Guardian’s top 10 government data visualisations and applications.

Screenshot: interactive map showing Jobseeker's Allowance claimant rates in the West Midlands

This map shows the proportion of the working age population claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in each local authority in the West Midlands. You can also compare data for each local authority with the West Midlands and UK averages.

The map is based on the latest employment and unemployment data released monthly by the Office for National Statistics. The Observatory analyses this data as part of its work in monitoring the impact of the recession on the West Midlands.

As well as local authority, we also show the data in maps for:

The 10 data visualisations and applications were highlighted by the Guardian Datastore on the same day the government publicly launched the data.gov.uk site. This new site aims to unlock innovation and encourage data-led decisions by opening up public sector data for reuse in innovative applications and websites.

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An introduction to geographic information and why it’s important

Brian Higgs from Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council gave a presentation about the importance of geographical information (GI) at the Geographical Information Day, hosted by the Observatory on 18th November 2009.

Brian introduced the concept of geographical information and demonstrated practical examples of how GI is used within Dudley MBC. Here’s Brian’s presentation which includes the audio and slides:

Can’t see the presentation? View the video on Viddler.com or get the PowerPoint slides (ppt, 12.7mb).

GIS mapping supports local “My Health Matters” project in Stoke-on-Trent

This guest post was contributed by Graham Smith of Staffordshire University.

The My Health Matters project has been designed specifically to help build partnership with statutory healthcare providers, the local voluntary and community sector to help meet the challenge of increasing physical activity levels and healthy eating in targeted areas within Stoke-on-Trent.

The project is based on evidence that increasing levels of physical activity and healthy eating will help to raise the low levels of life expectancy experienced by the population of Stoke-on-Trent.

This project is funded by NHS Stoke-on-Trent Primary Care Trust. The project will focus on areas within three deprived wards in Stoke-on-Trent:

  • Burslem South
  • Weston & Meir North
  • Bentilee & Townsend

Each ward is similar with regards to socio-economic status (i.e. in the bottom 40% of the Indices of Multiple Deprivation 2007).

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GIS used to digitise brownfield land sites and inform planning in the Black Country

This guest post was contributed by Christopher Styche from the Black Country Observatory.

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) were used as a tool for analysis in a project looking at brownfield land across the Black Country during the end of 2006–2007.

The purpose of the project was to inform policy makers involved with the implementation plans for the Black Country and emerging core strategy.

There was a strong partnership approach to this work with representatives from all four local authorities (Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton), as well as the Homes and Community Agency and Advantage West Midlands.

This post describes the project step-by-step and the role of GIS within the project.

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Making the invisible visible: matching West Midlands ICT SMEs with business opportunities

West Midlands ICT Cluster AWMistThis is a guest post written by Brian Prangle with contributions from Andrew Mackenzie.

West Midlands Regional Development Agency, Advantage West  Midlands (AWM) has unveiled its latest initiative to stimulate and develop the high technology sector.

AWMist (A Web Map-based Information Search Tool) is the first regional interface of its kind where collaboration, business opportunity building, and partnerships can be easily forged between the region’s ICT SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises) and those who can support and assist them, such as funding agencies, universities and business support projects.

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Securing a healthy natural environment for today and the future

The most recent meeting of the Observatory’s Environment topic group reviewed evidence to “Identify Regional Natural Environmental Priorities for the West Midlands”. Evidence highlighted by the group will inform work by the region’s Defra Agenda Group (DAG) to identify regional environmental priorities. The DAG comprises Government Office for the West Midlands, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Forestry Commission, Advantage West Midlands and Animal Health.

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