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Sub story to regular feature: Issue 598 11 Jun 2012

Mapping out a path to improving services

Local authorities have not fully exploited the nation’s mapping data in the past but that is beginning to change, according to Ordnance Survey. The Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) that removed the need for individual licences that local authorities had to pay for is now a year old.

This has given the OS a new role in promoting the use of its data, which, says Ian Carter, the OS’s head of local government, tended to only be used in “silos of excellence” within local authorities until the PSMA. “The agreement has led to an increase in use of the mapping data that we hold.” Among the products available is the OS MasterMap Integrated Transport Network and the associated topography layers with information on terrain, which East Riding of Yorkshire Council has used to plan safe routes to school and re-route home-to-school transport services.

Over £160,000 of savings were generated after East Riding planners re-routed services for secondary schools, according to the authority. It decided to introduce a rolling programme for its other 16 secondary schools to improve the efficiency of provision that will be completed in September to save more than £1m in total from its contracts.

The OS MasterMap ITN layer includes an urban paths theme including footpaths in all settlements over five square kilometres, which Carter says “allows authorities to identify the locations of existing safe routes to school, for example in order to calculate where children are entitled to free school transport”. Another advantage of the PSMA is that different parts of the public sector can now combine datasets more easily because they can use the same map and the license allows them to share maps they plot services on.

“The NHS and a local authority could identify bus routes in relation to GP surgeries, for example,” says Carter. The agreement allows local authorities to display licensed data to the public, potentially assisting with promotional activity to change travel behaviour.

The data can now be used for free but exploiting it still requires revenue resources. The OS has been working on a model that allows local authorities to assess the potential efficiency savings that could accrue to a given authority from using mapping data to improve services.

Discuss this at LTT's Open Data, Cities & Transport Event on the 27 Jue 2012

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