UK’s Ordnance Survey Releases New Location Data APIs for the Public Sector

The UK’s national mapping agency Ordnance Survey (OS) has released a suite of APIs that provide direct and immediate access to OS's most detailed and trusted location data. Over 5,500 public sector organizations will now have access as part of the Geospatial Commission’s Public Sector Geospatial Agreement.

The APIs will be free to use through the OS Data Hub and will provide an alternative way to access its most up-to-date location data. Ordnance Survey is a partner body of the Geospatial Commission and has said that the aim for the APIs is to help public sector organizations “focus on using the accurate geospatial data to underpin decisions, gain insight, support public services and drive innovation.” 

At launch, the APIs made available on the Data Hub include:

  • OS Maps API – allows integrations of OS mapping into apps and websites, including OS MasterMap Topography Layer and 1:25 000 Scale Colour Raster.
  • OS Vector Tile API – enables designers and developers to create customizable vector maps. The API gives users the ability to tailor the style of the map, specific to customer needs. The vector tile service allows users to tilt the map and display extruded features in three dimensions.
  • OS Features API – provides direct access to OS MasterMap, taking full advantage of precise geometries and rich attributes to generate new insight. There are many data layers available via the API which users can filter and select based on location or attribution, such as buildings, roads, and greenspaces.
  • OS Downloads API – allows users to download OS OpenData products directly to their machines.
  • OS Names API – a location look-up service including place names, postcodes, roads, and much more.
  • OS Linked Identifiers API – provides access to the relationships between properties, streets and OS MasterMap features.
  • OS Places API – an address lookup web service. OS Places API lets users search the UK's most comprehensive online address database.

OS is also highlighting how the API can help the response to COVID. Location data is a necessary component of contact tracing systems. Such systems are still essential until vaccines are more widely available. According to Chris Chambers, Head of the Public Sector Geospatial Agreement at OS, "over the last 10 months we have seen location data play an important role in supporting the public sector’s response to Covid-19. The pandemic has highlighted how vital it is that high-quality geospatial data is easily and quickly accessible to all users.”

Interested developers can register and sign up via the OS Data Hub. In addition to accessing the new APIs, they can also find out more information on the available OS datasets and products.

Be sure to read the next Mapping article: Esri Announces ArcGIS Platform to Provide Developers Robust Location Data