Ordnance Survey opens data to web developers

Ordnance Survey maps and data are to be made accessible to developers under a scheme called OpenSpace.

Ordnance Survey opens data to web developers

Twenty developers will be given access to a closed alpha test at an event held at the Ordnance Survey offices today, and a beta trial will begin in the new year.

The Ordnance Survey has been criticised for not making its data more freely available. This new initiative could signal a change of heart from the publicly-funded body.

“Technology continues to expand the opportunities for benefiting from geographic information,” says Vanessa Lawrence, Ordnance Survey’s director general and chief executive.

“Our OS OpenSpace project is all about promoting innovation and allowing non-commercial experimentation with our mapping data.”

The JavaScript API allows non-commercial organisations to access the data free of charge, although they will be restricted to 30,000 map tile views each day, and can only make 1,000 place name searches.

These restrictions are likely to continue even into the beta test and beyond, which could limit the emergence of large services built on the data. This limit could be subject to change if limitations occur during testing, says an Ordnance Survey spokesperson.

There is a chance that a commercial version will be launched in the future, but Ordnance Survey isn’t prepared to speculate at this time.

An interface is provided by the API that allows zooming and panning of maps, and data or graphics can be superimposed on to any tile. There is also a community website for developers where projects can be discussed.

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