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Ordnance Survey and UK

Unique digital map data will be shared across more than 500 Government departments and agencies and help deliver public services through more informed policy making, Planning Minister Sally Keeble announced.

A groundbreaking, one-year, pan-government agreement pilot between Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) and Ordnance Survey will allow the whole of central government to have data licences for Ordnance Survey national data sets. Users joining can use Ordnance Survey data for all internal business purposes, including intranets, emails, reports and submissions to third parties.

The new pan-government agreement will extend and develop existing supply arrangements between the mapping agency and around 50 departments, who will benefit by having access to a wider range of map data than ever before and more freedom with how they use it. At present all local authorities, including fire brigades and police, already use Ordnance Survey map data.

The pilot will support both the drive towards joined-up government and the 2005 e-delivery target of more online information across the public sector. A recent report by the Cabinet Office’s Performance and Innovation Unit (April 2002) stresses the role of geographical information as a key link between different types of government data. It says that geographical analysis is an ideal way to understand issues at a local or community level and co-ordinate action.

The new supply arrangements follow the launch of OS MasterMap, the most detailed and flexible digital map data Ordnance Survey has ever produced. OS MasterMap users can share and merge different sets of information through unique computer-friendly numbers identifying 416 million landscape features, including every building and piece of land. These topographic identifiers, or TOIDs, are ideally suited to the exchange and delivery of information both across government and to the general public. The portfolio also includes additional sophisticated data products pinpointing addresses, roads, and electoral and administrative boundaries.

The agreement will also mean major savings can be made within government. An example of how this will work in practice is the electronic Property Information Mapping System (e-PIMS), managed by the Office for Government Commerce. e-PIMS is an initiative based on utilising Ordnance Survey map data. It will allow departments to access and update their own property and workspace information, thereby improving decision making and realising departmental savings when procuring, changing or disposing of central estate properties and workspace.

e-PIMS was launched in May 2001 over the government secure intranet as a read only service. An updateable version, enabling departments to update their own data, was launched in November 2001. The service plans to offer standard linkages via XML in May 2002, and is expected to support OS MasterMap in the operational service by October 2002.