New Users Harness the Power of OS OpenSpace

Delegates at last month’s AGI (Association for Geographic Information) conference had the chance to get hands-on experience of Ordnance Survey’s enhanced, free service OS OpenSpace.

In a series of workshops run by Ordnance Survey, delegates could access the latest mapping application programme interface (API), which is freely available to developers for use online.

Over 2,400 developers have signed up use the OS OpenSpace API; the number has dramatically increased since May, when an improved version was released, and is expected to rise again with the launch of OS OpenSpace Pro – designed for use with high-volume and commercial websites.

Providing increased access to Ordnance Survey mapping, OS OpenSpace is easy to use and has far-reaching potential for a wide range of uses for light commercial and not-for-profit websites.

It is already used on a variety of websites, including community groups such as the Scouts, where local groups are using OS OpenSpace to illustrate the location of various events and meeting places, making it easy for parents to identify where groups meet and find contact details.

Community initiatives can also make good use of the service, with the Assynt Angling Research website ( leading the way. The website is part of a larger research project, undertaken by Substance, called ‘The Social and Community Benefits of Angling’ and is supported by the Big Lottery Fund. The research uses web-based tools to gather information on anglers visiting the Assynt area. It utilises OS OpenSpace to show the best locations for angling in the north-west of Scotland along with markers allowing users to post information about which lochs they used, what they caught and how good the location was, with comments regarding long walks, wildlife or good views. It is hoped that users will develop the site to become the definitive guide to angling in the area and research information generated will be used to assist local community angling groups.

Project manager and Director of Substance Dr. Adam Brown said: “OS OpenSpace is crucial to the development of our web-based research as it is the only technology that allows online access to detailed maps of remote rural areas such as Assynt. Location links all the other information together, such as details about access, where people are fishing, what was caught and what type of flies and tackle were used. It also provides links to more traditional research tools, such as a questionnaire and feedback, and pictures can all be tagged to the geographic location, which means we can build up a really good record of what is going on.”

Local authorities are also taking the initiative and using the free service to illustrate activities online. Web Developer Dave Pennington at Cotswold District Council said:

“We are currently using OS OpenSpace to illustrate planning applications, but there are so many ways we can use it on our website. We can easily see how using geographical location can help us improve our speed of response and make it easier for people to understand what is going on in their area.”

Using the OS OpenSpace API, developers can enhance their websites by showing their own data on top of Ordnance Survey maps, providing the context for their own activities.

Further information is available at