It’s quite amusing to compare and contrast the announcements from DCLG and Ordnance Survey today, regarding boundaries, postcode areas and mid scale mapping information. DCLG’s press release proudly declares:
The Prime Minister and Communities Secretary John Denham will today announce that the public will have more access to Ordnance Survey maps from next year, as part of a Government drive to open up data to improve transparency. Speaking at a seminar on Smarter Government in Downing Street … the Prime Minister will set out how the Government and Ordnance Survey, Great Britain’s national mapping agency, will open up its data relating to electoral and local authority boundaries, postcode areas and mid scale mapping information. The Government will consult on proposals to make data from Ordnance Survey freely available so it can be used for digital innovation and to support democratic accountability.
See that? Lots of definite statements, of how they will do this, will do that. Well, hold your horses. Ordnance Survey’s rather brief press release is slightly more defensive, and markedly less excitable:
The Prime Minister has today announced that the public and others will have greater access to a range [of?] Ordnance Survey data from next year, as part of a Government drive to open up data to improve efficiency and transparency. The detail of this is still being worked through and a formal consultation period will begin in December to look at how these changes will be implemented.
So whilst DCLG see it as a chance to crowdsource some cool stuff, OS frame it purely in fairly boring accountant-bureaucrat terms. Hmm.
Of course it’s welcome news, but there’s a long, long way to go yet – and not much time to do it. With a general election on the horizon, boundaries absolutely must be freed – as quickly as possible, and in formats which will be most useful to the digital innovators. (Basically, that means dead easy integration with Google Maps.)
Oh, and let’s not get carried away about ‘postcode areas’. They aren’t Ordnance Survey’s to free, are they?