New opportunities for geospatial data in Scotland

It’s been a busy few months at Ordnance Survey since the launch of the Public Sector Geospatial Agreement (PSGA) in April for England and Wales, and with Scotland joining the PSGA in May to make it the first collective geospatial agreement for Great Britain.

We’re really excited about the PSGA. It builds on our world-leading location expertise with new and richer data, new ways to access our data and new freedoms for sharing data. Scottish public sector organisations will continue to have free at the point of use access to our data, but our Partners and their customers, developers and academia all stand to benefit from this new agreement as well. We’re looking forward to seeing how our customers unlock significant social, environmental and economic benefits for Scotland.

The first wave of benefits from the PSGA start on 1 July. The big change to accessing data is the OS Data Hub, the new way to access our authoritative location data. Through one platform you can:

  • Download OS OpenData products (and in future OS paid-for products)
  • Access API services free up to a threshold and pay for further access
  • Manage your accounts and view your data usage
  • Access data in new and improved formats
  • Report errors in OS data

We think the APIs will be a big benefit for developers and businesses across Scotland. APIs are the building blocks for all web-based mapping applications. They can remove the overhead of managing and storing the data yourself, helping you save time and money.

Our new APIs give you access to OS OpenData, and the option to upgrade to premium data, and you can get started for free on the Data Hub.

There are different options for accessing and using OS data and which one you choose will depend on your use case. You may want to download datasets and have access to all the features locally or offline. Or you may prefer direct access to the maps or data you need, as and when you need them, via the internet – and this is where APIs are useful.

OS Maps API – a raster tile service. Integrate our up-to-date, detailed maps in your apps, including OS MasterMap Topography Layer and 1:25 000 Scale Colour Raster.

OS Vector Tile API – a vector tile service, ideal for developers to create slick, quick customisable vector maps.

OS Features API – a web feature service with direct access to OS MasterMap data including buildings, roads and greenspaces for expert data analysis.

OS Downloads API – machine-to-machine open data downloads to improve the accessibility of our products.

OS Names API – an accurate location look-up service including place names, postcodes, roads and more.

OS Linked Identifiers API ­– provides access to the valuable relationships between properties, streets and OS MasterMap features.

As well as the new data hub and APIs, we’re reducing barriers to entry into premium data, freeing up licensing terms and expanding the OS OpenData portfolio of high quality, maintained location data. We hope this will help our Scottish customers, new and existing, to benefit from OS data and services. Key developments include:

  • Reducing royalties by up to 80% for the offline use of data, including our most valuable property level address data. Resulting in current OS customers and partners benefitting from the new pricing structure.
  • Four new OS OpenData products through the release of key identifiers, including the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN), Unique Street Reference Number (USRN), and TOIDs with associated geometry. The products will be released under Open Government Licence and supported by an updated Identifier policy, which will make linking and analysing location-based information easier.
  • New freedoms for the public sector to publish more of their authoritative data under open licence terms – including property extents and data held against the key identifiers UPRN, USRN and TOID. We expect this will deliver greater levels of data sharing and increased interoperability between important government datasets.

1 July also sees us releasing AddressBase Core, exclusively available through our Partner network. The OS Open UPRN product will provide a unique identifier for every location that can have an address along with a coordinate. But what do you do if you need to know the address, extra attribution and be able to rely on it as the authoritative source of information? This is where AddressBase Core can help.

We’ve been working hard over the last 18 months to create an addressing product that is lightweight, easy to load, lower in cost and updated more frequently than before, in line with feedback during user engagement and testing of our current products.

To make the product simple and easy to use, we are providing the core elements for an address gazetteer – identifiers, location, classification and address line elements for live records.

As you can see, there are a lot of changes in July, but we’re not stopping there. In October, we’ll be adding the option for over the threshold payments for our customers. From January, our existing public sector customers will have full access to the OS Data Hub and APIs, joining our other customers. And there will be more data and services released next year. Throughout we’ll be supporting new and existing customers and developers to use our data in new ways and explore the benefits.

We really want to see this new data, with the new ways to access it, and new freedoms to share data, drive lightbulb moments across the public and private sectors.

Find out more at

Start using OS data and APIs at

Written by Dominic Cuthbert (AGI Scotland Committee & Ordnance Survey)


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