The title says it all really, Archaeogeek’s second birthday snuck by the other day without me even noticing. Mr Archaeogeek says this means I have to take him out for dinner. I’m sure he has it the wrong way around, but maybe he needs rewarding for putting up with me! Anyhow, happy birthday to Archaeogeek. I’m even more astounded than I was this time last year that my attention span has lasted this long, given that it has actually been a pretty tough year around these parts.
Vector One points us to an article in the Independent about how google are destroying Britain’s culture by not showing it on their maps. The interviewee, from the British Cartographic Society, is slightly hysterical about this- let’s face it google are not that evil, but I have to say I agree with the basic premise, and disagree with Vector One’s analysis. The fact is that Google maps are not as rich and interesting as those the Ordnance Survey produces.
A couple of people have remarked to me that one reason that they are not prepared to make the open source jump is the lack of support. Well, last week I wrote about a mastermap importer that I had found. I said I would like to be able to merge the huge numbers of shapefiles produced into more manageable chunks. I got a lot of good advice as to ways I might be able to do that using gdal, which is really handy, BUT I also emailed the developer about the same problem.
I had some interest in the Access module for converting Ordnance Survey NGRs to Eastings and Northings (and vice versa) so I thought I’d risk putting the database on the site for download. It’s in Access 97 but should translate up to newer versions without much trouble. I should also add that several people commented last week about an online NGR converter that looks really handy, and this excel spreadsheet full of handy vba functions for conversion offline.
After last week’s post I was asked in the comments to explain how to convert British Ordnance Survey Grid Squares to sensible Eastings and Northings, for use in a GIS. So here goes… Firstly- to quote from the Ordnance Survey website: The National Grid, like its military predecessors, consists of a systematic breakdown of the Grid area into progressively smaller squares identified first by letters and then numbers. The largest unit of the grid is 500km squares each designated by a prefix letter alphabetically from A-Z omitting I - the first letter to be quoted in today’s National Grid Reference.
Well, it doesn’t seem like a whole month has passed since FOSS4G. but it’s nearly halloween so I guess it must have done. Here in Lancaster things have been mighty hectic, with office moves and related changes (I now know a lot more about VOIP phone systems than I ever wanted to). It’s only this last week where I feel like I’m actually back in the saddle and doing real work again.
The Ordnance Survey’s shortsighted license agreement has put paid to the fantastic 3D Virtual model of London that the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL has spent six years researching and creating. The full story of the negotiations can be found in this Guardian Article, but briefly speaking the Ordnance Survey’s refusal to change the terms of their license has meant that the data cannot be made freely available on the web, although it can be used by the London Boroughs.
There have been a thought-provoking series of posts about the relevance of the Ordnance Survey. It’s good that people are questioning the need for a national mapping agency, but I think the answer has to be a resounding YES. The OpenGeoData blog doesn’t. To quote: “Me, I just don’t care about the Ordnance Survey. It’s not “evil” or “immoral”, it just doesn’t matter. I think that Open Maps can do better, and I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is by working on Open Maps, but it’s not a crusade it’s just a superior way of working together and generating maps.
Last night I was at the Free Our Data? discussion at the University of Manchester, running as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2007. This was interesting, not least because I have been thinking about this debate purely in terms of geographical data, yet other types of data bring other issues and concerns. The question-mark is important, as it represents the crux of this evening’s debate. Should public sector data be available for free, or freely available?