Government agrees OS maps and raw data free-for-all


The government has announced it will make Ordnance Survey [a href="" target="_blank"] map data available online free of charge from next year.

Starting in April 2010, the public will be able to openly access not only the maps, but interpretive geographical data such as crime, health and education statistics by postcode.

The move is part of a wider commitment to making non-personal data collected by the Government available to the public in raw form, and was announced earlier this week by prime minister Gordon Brown and Communities Secretary Phil Denham.

"We want people to be able to compare the outcomes and the costs for their own local services with the services delivered elsewhere, and suggest means of improving and driving change," said Denham.

It will bring the UK into line with the US, which already offers its maps free, and will allow the public to create their own custom maps based on the raw data, such as comparing crime statistics in specific areas when looking to buy a property.

A total of 2,000 sets of data will be published, from property prices and motoring offences, to road traffic counts. The Prime Minister said he expected a consultation on providing Ordnance Survey maps free of charge would be completed by April, and that roll-out would begin shortly afterwards. The current commercial licence to access the maps, which costs 5,000, will fall away altogether.

The government is being advised on the matter by world wide web creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt, who said any plan to make data available to the public only made sense if it was done in its entirety.

"Making all that data available doesn't make much sense without the geography to tie it all together," he said.