Nice. Ordnance Survey “geographical data” is apparently to be “free to all” from April 2010. Somehow I doubt we’ll be allowed to download a layered hi-res Illustrator file of each of the current retail O.S. map sheets, and thus have the ability to do some interesting subtractions and replacements (e.g.: a new “Medieval Birmingham and area” map, based on an O.S. map stripped back to the contour lines and streams/rivers). Or plug in into Flash in order to output an animated “Birmingham through the Ages” map-as-time-travel.


But it’ll certainly be nice to see useful data-sets applied over O.S. maps, with a couple of provisos. The designer in me wants to see elegant and finely-crafted displays laid over the top of the beautiful O.S. maps — but I suspect that many techies will plump for naff “DTP-style clipart” symbols or big red 3D push-pins. I’m also thinking that local “citizen-gathered data sets” is where such mash-ups become far more interesting than using “official” statistics (which are often dubiously gathered, although of course properly analysed and crunched in aggregate by the ONS and others).

Hopefully the freeing of O.S data will break the logjam around the three million 3D buildings, and seven years of work that was Virtual London. It was apparently put on hold because of O.S. objections.