Posts Tagged ‘maps’

New Ordnance Survey Linked Data Site not just for Data Geeks

June 3, 2013 1 comment

Ordnance Survey’s new linked data site went live today. You can read the official press release here. One of the major improvements to the site is the look and feel of the site, and as a result of this the site should be useful to people who don’t care about ‘scary things’ like APIs, linked data or RDF.

One key additional feature of the new site is map views (!) of entities in the data. This means the site could be useful if you want to share your postcode with friends or colleagues as a means of locating your house or place of work. Every postcode in Great Britain has a webpage in the OS linked data of the form:{POSTCODE}

Examples of this would be the OS HQ postcode:

or the postcode for the University of Southampton:

Click on either of these links you’ll see a map of the postcode – which you can view at various levels of zoom. You’ll also see useful information about the postcode such as its lat/long coordinate. More interestingly you’ll notice that it provides information about the ward, district/unitary authority, county (where applicable) and country your postcode is located in. So for the University of Southampton postcode we can see it’s located in the ward Portswood, the district Southampton and the country England.

Another interesting addition to the site is links to a few useful external sites such as: They Work For You, Fix My Street, NHS Choice and Police UK. This hopefully makes the linked data site a useful location based hub to information about what’s going on in your particular postcode area.

Why not give it a try with your postcode…:)

Mash-ups are so last year…

June 14, 2009 3 comments

Mash-ups are cool – ever since Ordnance Survey, Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft launched there various mapping APIs we’ve seen quite a few of them. This weekend I’ve been experimenting with creating a map mesh-up. I’m not sure if there is any strict definition of a mesh-up, but Kinglsey Idehen gave a pretty good account of mesh-up versus mash-up in this blog entry. I’ll leave it up to you the reader to decide if what I have done is truly a mesh-up, but I like to think I did the best I could given the current semantic web infrastructure.

Given my day job I thought it would be cool to do some kind of map mesh-up around regions in the UK (however being a typical researcher I’ve only done four locations so far just to prove the concept). The new version of Ordnance Survey’s mapping API (OS OpenSpace) provides easy API calls to let you display the boundaries of administrative regions in Great Britain (except for civil parishes and communities). This made OS OpenSpace a no brainer for this mesh-up (and of course the superior cartography is an added bonus :)). In order to process the RDF I used the ARC PHP library.

I’ll now explain how I did each of the various mesh-ups starting with the most straightforward one – the basic map with region information (e.g Southampton). This basic map mesh-up was made using the Ordnance Survey RDF for administrative units in Great Britain. This is hosted as linked data on the rkbexplorer site and has a SPARQL endpoint. This RDF data contains topological relations and name information for the administrative regions in Great Britain. For example, take a look at Southampton. For a given region the ARC library was used to issue a SPARQL query to find the bordering regions, contained regions and containing regions along with the area of the region. The result of these queries was then displayed in the map information pop-out. So to find the bordering regions for Southampton the query is very straightforward:

SELECT ?border
<; admingeo:borders ?border .

The family tree mesh-up was done in a similar way. I documented in a previous blog entry how I had started converting my family tree into RDF. In fact since my last blog entry I now have that data available as linked data (this was done using Paget, for example: The data was stored on the Talis Platform and again ARC was used to do a SPARQL query. You may notice for the Birmingham family tree map I list members of my family that were born in Birmingham and died in Birmingham. I also list relatives that were born in areas bordering Birmingham. I was able to do this because my family tree data was connected to the Ordnance Survey boundaries RDF. So from the OS data I could find all areas bordering Birmingham, and then return all family members born in these areas from my family tree data. Because the data was linked over the web is was easy to do this in a very simple SPARQL query:

SELECT ?s ?name

?place admingeo:borders <;.

?s dbpedia-owl:birthplace ?place .

?s foaf:name ?name

The BBC mesh-ups are arguably more interesting. The BBC recently announced a SPARQL endpoint for its RDF data. An example of the queries you can do are given here. The observant amongst you will notice that the BBC data does provide location information, but the URIs for the location are currently taken from DBpedia and not from the Ordnance Survey data. To get round this I used a new service called The service offers a service that helps you to find co-references between different data sets. You can use this to look up other sources that represent your chosen URI. For example has the equivalent URIs given here.

However, I didn’t want to hard code the equivalent URIs in my code. I’ll explain what I did using the Southampton example. First I issued a call to to look up coreferences for the Ordnance Survey Southampton URI. I returned the URIs as an RDF file and used the ARC library to parse the RDF file for equivalent resources from dbpedia. I then issued a SPARQL query using the dbpedia URIs to return the artist/programme information from the BBC SPARQL endpoint.  So in a nutshell:

  1. take Ordnance Survey URI
  2. issue a look-up for that URI to
  3. return URIs in an RDF file
  4. parse the RDF file using ARC for dbpedia URIs
  5. issue query to BBC endpoint using the dbpedia URIs.

The revyu mesh-up was done in a similar way.

I hope this all made sense. Comments and questions welcome – though please no comments on my HTML/web design being very 1995. It’s all about the RDF for me  :)

The mesh-up is here

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