Editorial

Public sector organisations gain access to location data

Ordnance Survey says access to data via APIs will support government policy and underpin public services

Posted 12 January 2021 by

More than 5,500 public sector organisations now have access to Ordnance Survey (OS) information, as part of the Geospatial Commission’s Public Sector Geospatial Agreement.

The Ordnance Survey Data Hub is hosting a suite of APIs which provide a new way for public sector organisations to access up-to-date data. This data connects users to a range of datasets and the latest product updates.

OS says this data “will transform how geospatial data is used to support government policy and underpin public services.”

It adds that the APIs will make it quicker and easier for users to work with OS data by connecting directly to a range of datasets as well as supplying the latest product updates on demand.

“The APIs will help save time and resources allowing users to focus on using the accurate geospatial data to underpin decisions, gain insight, support public services and drive innovation,” it said in a statement. “One significant benefit is a reduction in data management overheads removing the need to spend time downloading and managing data.”

“Over the last 10 months we have seen location data play an important role in supporting the public sector’s response to COVID-19. The pandemic has highlighted how vital it is that high quality geospatial data is easily and quickly accessible to all users,” said Chris Chambers, head of the Public Sector Geospatial Agreement at OS.

“The APIs let users access the data they need when they need it. They deliver quick and easy access to detailed OS data and have been designed to save users’ valuable time. By using the APIs it means that OS is handling the complexities of spatial data management, allowing users to focus on creating even greater value from the data.”

Location data crucial to economic recovery

The launch of the APIs to the PSGA members follows a launch to developers and businesses in July 2020. In the first three months 2,355 users registered for the OS Data Hub, with 1,845 new to OS. In the same period API users carried out more than 40 million transactions, with a 100 percent month-on-month increase in transactions.

The APIs provide access to a range of OS datasets including OS MasterMap, road network data, addressing information, 1:25 000 leisure mapping, as well as unlimited access to OS OpenData products.

“The OS Places API, for example, is a great tool to help users improve the accuracy of their address searches. It’s ideal for use in geocoding, automated form-filling, and local area investigations. In addition, the APIs allow multiple geospatial data sets to be explored and linked together,” said Chambers.

“The APIs provide a new way for people to access and work with OS data, and we are looking forward to working closely with our customers to ensure that OS data continues to support them.”

“Better location data and improved access is crucial to boost UK economic recovery and growth,” said the Geospatial Commission’s deputy director, Jamie Clark. “The innovations to data access that Ordnance Survey is driving through the Public Sector Geospatial Agreement, will provide for better policy and operational outcomes across a range of sectors and services, from housing, transport and retail to emergency response, public health and environmental management.”