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Digital mapping data is the reference point for sustainable development

Peter Hedlund CEO/ Managing Director at Ordnance Survey International (OSI)Peter Hedlund, Managing Director, Ordnance Survey International, reveals how the organization is helping countries implement a well-managed national spatial data infrastructure

What is the importance of location data in today’s world?

At a very base level, location data stops you feeling lost. It gives a bigger picture. Adds depth and richness to that data and apply the bigger picture to government, business or citizens wanting a better quality of life, and suddenly a better knowledge of your environment gives you greater confidence to make the right decisions. For instance, in Great Britain, Ordnance Survey is creating a mapping and planning tool for 5G and the next generation of wireless communications needed to bring Internet-connected devices into everyday life. The tool contains intelligent data, such as the lifecycles of trees, and other elements that can prohibit a robust 5G network. Plus, the costly exercise of trial and error that can almost be eradicated, as the tool allows most of this work to be done at a desk in a fraction of time. Quality location data can help save and make money. It can save time and increase efficiencies, and it allows you to work smarter and make the right decisions.

What are the major challenges the Ordnance Survey International (OSI) faces in representing data to the public?

One of the challenges moving forward will be the sheer volume of data available. Yet data is also subject to various policies and markets. In some countries, such as Great Britain and New Zealand, open data is required by the public. In other countries geospatial data is seen as confidential and a security risk, so it is not publicly shared. Though we have seen in our work that sharing accurate data drives innovation and collaboration, and that keeping data segregated inhibits this. Ordnance Survey can demonstrate to the public, its many and varied domestic achievements supplemented with our international work,  such as the 3D data model we produced using open standards for the Kingdom of Bahrain to help its agencies share data and make decisions. And for the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi we created a new GIS roadmap to enable the development of a ‘single version of the environmental truth’. It’s through sharing these proof points and helping countries implement a well-managed national spatial data infrastructure that our customers can benefit greatly by openly sharing geospatial data.

How can digital mapping data help a country achieve comprehensive sustainable development?

If a picture says a thousand words, then a digital map containing data can talk forever. The beauty of a digital map is that you have the bigger picture and you can pick up all the information it contains before your next blink. There is no need to read pages of documentation or to sit through countless PPTs — the information is right there. You are informed instantly and are therefore better equipped to make decision. For example, Ordnance Survey’s work in BIM and 3D data visualization of the lifecycle of construction projects. In Great Britain, we already see how digital mapping is being used by regional and national government, by business (start-ups, SMEs and large corporations, some from outside of country who are attracted by the quality of data available) utility  companies, health care, insurance, emergency services and more. Digital mapping data should be the reference point for all future sustainable development planning and maintenance. A shared version of the truth — one true picture we can all work from.

Is digitization altering the make-up of the OSI workforce?

Being digital means that we have greater scope to explore our data and mash it with other data and technologies to see what can be learned. From this willingness to discover through innovative thinking and application, Ordnance Survey is collaborating with a host of new and interesting partners on projects that are determining how a connected Smart Nation, its towns and cities, the IoT within it, driverless vehicles and the mobile wireless network needed to enable this, will work. There is the sense that this is only just the start of something that is potentially very exciting indeed.

What are OSI modernization programs?

Last year Ordnance Survey marked 225 years of capturing and supplying reliable location data that is integral to the better prosperity and wellbeing of Great Britain. We will continue to embed and implement our strategy of delivering expertise and value at home (across business, government and individuals) while building our international operations with some very interesting offerings to the global market. The first of those services is the Geospatial Maturity Assessment, which we have been developing with our customers over the past few years, helping with their own modernization programs. We have recently completed assessments for Bahrain, Oman, and Abu Dhabi. The service will assess how mature organizations are at collecting, managing and disseminating geospatial information to meet stakeholder requirements and business goals. The review will help customers understand not only how mature they are now, but how mature customers need them to be. We have just launched a free version of the service available, so you can instantly measure how mature your organization is. It was interesting to see how the world’s nations compared in terms of their readiness in the Global Geospatial Industry Outlook report, which was released at Geospatial World Forum 2017 Hyderabad in January.

Can you tell us about some of OSI’s partnerships?

Partnerships are essential to our growth strategy. We are keen to expand our ecosystem beyond the 380 partners we have in place today. As we expand globally, we will also transform our partnership model to work with global, regional and niche partners. We are therefore constantly on the lookout for new, innovative, best of breed partners to help us deliver smart projects across the globe.

Partnerships are essential to our growth strategy. We are keen to expand our ecosystem beyond the 380 partners we have in place today. As we expand globally, we will also transform our partnership model to work with global, regional and niche partners

What does your role at OSI entail and what is the vision of OSI?

I lead a team that helps National Mapping Agencies and governments around the world develop and grow their geospatial capabilities. We do this by demonstrating the many ways Great Britain benefits from Ordnance Survey’s groundbreaking work. For instance, Resilience Direct. It is a platform used in emergencies that connects emergency services individuals on the scene, all the way up to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Office. In challenging situations Resilience Direct at all levels provides all the different agencies and bodies involved, the one true picture of the situation.

Ordnance Survey International’s vision is to be the world’s most inspiring and trusted geospatial partner — for managed services within geospatial, land management and infrastructure segments. Over the past six months Ordnance Survey International has won contracts in four continents. The focus of this work has predominantly been on data management and improving the capacity of other nations, guiding them towards building, maintaining and running a geospatial framework that supports their citizens, creates better government and economic growth. Various independent research has shown that GDP of countries with a geospatial database increase by 0.2-0.6%.