Thursday, November 19, 2009

Free Ordnance Survey maps online -- soon

Ordnance Survey (OS) map data will be available online free of cost to everybody from 2010. The move will allow people to interpret public statistics about crime, health and education by postcode, local authority or electoral boundary.

Currently, the geographical data is only available free of charge to small scale developers. Opening it up is key to the success of government plans to free its data via, say the site's creators.

"Making all that data available doesn't make much sense without the geography to tie it all together. Time and place are the two things that make sense of other data. Which hospital, where, when, for example." Professor Nigel Shadbolt, one of two Information Advisers to the government, told BBC News.

It is a commitment to make a wide range of non-personal data collected by the government on subjects such as health, crime and education available online for free in a raw form. Developers can then use it to create mash-ups - a web page that combines sets of data to link up results.

Professor Shadbolt says that if people could get at the data "they would prefer to use it".
The transition to free-for-all is likely to happen in April 2010 and was announced on 17 November by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Communities Secretary John Denham.

"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," said Mr Denham.


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