Ordnance Survey (OS) is to release most of its UK map data into the public domain, and will make the maps available as free downloads.
OS OpenData is a free online portal which allows users to download mapping and geographic information for free reuse; view maps and boundary information for the whole country; and develop web-map applications using Ordnance Survey’s OS OpenSpace API, the organisation said.
The move was launched today by communities secretary John Denham after several months of public debate and follows an announcement by the prime minister last year that some OS mapping would be made freely available as part of the Making Public Data Public initiative.
Denham wants the data to be used by technical entrepreneurs in "interesting" ways.
However, Ordnance Survey will not be providing access to its vast library of paper maps, which has upset many. The Ramblers' Association is lobbying to get Ordnance Survey's Explorer and Landranger paid-for paper maps included in the new service.
Free public access to the Ordnance Survey data has been supported by Data.gov.uk, a group headed by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee that lobbies for the opening up of government data.
"I'm delighted that the Ordnance Survey is releasing this data for free re-use," he said. "It will help people make fuller use of other government data on data.gov.uk, as well as stimulating innovation in mapping itself."
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