UK Ordnance Survey Adds Four New Products to its Open Data Portfolio

This is a great resource for anyone wanting to know where their UK ancestors lived or worked. If you have found an address in an old record, the UK Ordnance Survey Open Data Portfolio probably can show you the location on a FREE map. Here is the announcement from the Ordnance Survey:

Free to use location, roads, rivers and map products from OS.

OS continues its investment in digital innovation as a means of stimulating the economy with today’s release of four new exciting open data products. The products made available by OS offer users increased detail and accuracy and the opportunity for analytics. They are fully customisable and can work together or be imported and integrated with the users own software and database.

OS Open Map – Local provides a customisable backdrop for users to map, visualise and fully understand their data. This new product provides the most detailed level of buildings in OS’s open data suite and is designed to be used with other open data products.

With OS Open Map – Local you can:

  • Select urban and rural features across the whole of GB.
  • Enjoy more detail, more flexibility, and more functionality.
  • Easily style and customise your individual map.
  • Analyse a location – for example, identifying important buildings, such as hospitals and train stations.
  • Overlay other datasets such as utilities, population statistics and commercial property rates to understand an area.
  • Provide a base map to identify ‘hotspots’, such as property pricing, insurance risk, and crime.

OS Open Names is a reliable location search product for when you need to find something fast. It’s a new, better quality, consistent index for all the location names in Great Britain. Users can search a particular location or look for somewhere in a number of ways to an accuracy of within one metre.

With OS Open Names you can:

  • Access place names, road names and numbers in one quick, comprehensive, searchable list of more than 2.5 million real GB locations.
  • Boost your customer-facing services or power the search box in consumer devices and websites.
  • Locate where a person is – allowing services to be matched to them.
  • Link and collaborate with third parties through effective and consistent data sharing.
  • Create a “Find your nearest” shop/pub/ bank/school – or whatever feature you need in your web service.

OS Open Rivers is a generalised open water network showing the flow and the locations of rivers, streams, lakes and canals across the whole of Great Britain.

With OS Open Rivers you can:

  • Understand the water network at a ‘high level’ with generalised geometry and network connectivity.
  • View a network of main rivers, identifying the main river course along its full length.
  • Pin information on the connected network for a tailored view.
  • Share information, such as flood alert and flood risk areas.

OS Open Roads is a connected road network for Great Britain. It contains all classified roads (such as motorways and A & B roads) as well as officially named unclassified roads.

With OS Open Roads you can:

  • View the road network at a ‘high level’ with generalised geometry and network connectivity.
  • Identify locations and pin information, such as incident or accident hotspots.
  • Share information, such as accidents hotspots, with those who need to know.
  • Display results in context using OS Open Map – Local mapping.

Matthew Hancock, Business Minister at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, says: “Ordnance Survey has world-beating data and its expertise means that the UK has access to the best and most comprehensive mapping data in the world. I announced earlier this year that Ordnance Survey would move to a Government Company to ensure that it could operate in an increasingly agile and flexible manner in the fast changing geospatial market, and today’s announcement goes hand in hand with that change.

“Ordnance Survey data is already being used by a range of businesses and these developments will enable its open data, as well as its commercial activity, to continue to support growth and innovation in this country.”

Neil Ackroyd, Ordnance Survey’s Acting Director General and Chief Executive, says: “Over the last five years Ordnance Survey has been committed to supporting the open data programme in a sustainable way. I am confident these new open data developments will be welcomed across the public and private sector and that it may inspire a new wave of developers and entrepreneurs to work with OS data.

“We are delighted to be releasing a new range of open data products, and I am particularly keen to see the new street level product being used across mobile and online services and applications, as it provides an unmatched level of detail at the national level. At Ordnance Survey we believe that open data releases are best supported by additional resources and we have explored ways to improve and modify our licences and provide supporting initiatives to aid further innovation.”

All 16 OS OpenData products are FREE to view, download and use for commercial, educational and personal purposes. Visit


Thanks for highlighting this Dick – but please note that the organisation is named Ordnance (not Ordinance) Survey. The OS came into being as a response to the French Revolution, when fears of invasion from France were rife. As the OS website says: “Realising the danger, the government ordered its defence ministry – the Board of Ordnance – to begin a survey of England’s vulnerable southern coasts. … The first one-inch map of Kent was published in 1801, and a similar map of Essex followed – just as Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar made invasion less likely!” So it is ordnance as in a branch of the army rather than ordinance as in a rule, decree or regulation or a religious rite or ceremony.


England has changed a lot since the Ordnance Survey started making maps. I wonder if the ones available online include historic ones? I’ve been collecting published copies of Victorian Ordnance Survey maps of London, which showed, for example that two related immigrants had settled quite close to each other, even though they arrived separately, 10 years apart.


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