Open Data


Free is great but time is money

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now and I finally wanted to write something about gaming freemium. What do I mean by “gaming freemium”? How much effort will you go to in order to avoid paying for something? Most free services place a limit on the usage that you can get for nothing, the clever ones give you enough to make the service really useful and make their money from a small […]


Podcasting as therapy in troubled times

At the end of last year Ed Freyfogle and I started talking about doing a Geomob podcast as a way of sharing Geomob with a bigger audience. Ed had done a couple of podcasts with another friend and had learnt the basics. It seemed like a fun idea, two friends who share a passion for geo chatting each week and interviewing past Geomob speakers. We recorded our first podcast at the end of January and […]


#geomob BCN is born

Last week I hopped on a plane to Barcelona to hang out with my pal Ed Freyfogle, strategise about the development of his OpenCage Geocoder business (where I am an advisor) and to support him at the launch of geomob in Barcelona. Barcelona is an awesome city with great food, wonderful walks, beautiful buildings and of course the beach, but I think it is fair to say that the tech scene in general and the […]


Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde consider a new Geospatial Commission 6

It’s November, it’s budget time, it’s that moment when geo-geeks and OpenData enthusiasts scour the hundreds of pages of budget pronouncements searching for phrases like “Ordnance Survey”, “Land Registry” and “Open Data”. It’s amazing how often we have got a mention in the budget or spending review publications over the past decade, you’d think that with all of the challenges that the country has faced since the crash of 2008 that the Chancellor would have […]


The next PSMA may reshape Ordnance Survey 3

This advert recruiting for a “Head of Public Sector Mapping & Addressing Agreements Team” reminded me that the current Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA for OS geeks and followers) is coming up for renegotiation with a deadline of end 2017 (presumably the new renegotiated agreement will come into effect on 1st April 2018). This a 2 year contract at a fairly senior level: We are looking for someone with strong commercials skills and ideally experience […]


Long walk to open data 1

Excuse the corny link to Nelson Mandela’s autobiography but this morning it feels as if we are on a pretty long walk to the nirvana of open data and that we are going to need the patience and determination of Nelson to get there. Last week my friend Giusseppe Sollazzo published a report “Open data in the health sector – Users, stories, products and recommendations“. Giusseppe suggested that I might be somewhat critical of his report @StevenFeldman looking forward […]


Stretching FoI beyond a reasonable use case? 8

“The Freedom of Information Act is a good thing” – sounds like a reasonable statement that would attract a lot of support from many who read this blog or who live in the open data, open source, open whatever communities. In line with my position on the cost/benefit of Open Data, I have occasionally wondered whether some people/organisations are ‘taking the mick’ with their FoI requests. The act applies to all and any requests regardless of the […]


Child Poverty in London 17

This is another post about making maps from OpenData. I am trying to learn more geeky stuff rather than my usual blathering about the map and data business, things open and stuff, so I am playing with PostGIS, QGIS, taking some tentative steps into CSS and JavaScript and generally having lots of fun. But hey, you can burn a lot of time wrangling data and making maps. A week ago I saw this tweet Mapping […]


Why OS refuses an exemption request

A few weeks ago I wrote about Ordnance Survey’s response to my FoI request regarding data exemptions and I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised at the high proportion of requests that were granted. The FoI response left a gap as far as I was concerned so I asked a follow up question “You state that refusals were because OS “considered the risk of release of the dataset, to OS or our partners, outweighed the positive […]


A tale of two datasets 2

This is a tale of two datasets – an open data set and a free dataset. Last Tuesday at GeoMob, Anna Powell-Smith gave an absolutely brilliant talk about the work that she had done with Private Eye to uncover the extent of foreign company ownership of UK property. It wasn’t straight forward as the Land registry seems to be reluctant to make the data available (there is a lot more than raw Land Registry data in […]


Drip, drip, drip – OS OpenWashing

Let me start by saying that I am a big fan of the Ordnance Survey and that I have many friends who work there or have worked there. Ordnance Survey’s detail, precision, currency and quality of mapping are the envy of many other countries and most of their staff seem to be dedicated to producing ever improving digital map products as their public task. So you are waiting for the ‘but’ and it is a big ‘but’. There […]


Dear Chancellor 2

The Right Honourable George Osborne 11 Down in the Street London Dear Chancellor I hope you are well. You must be looking forward to putting your feet up and sipping a nice single malt over the weekend after a the excitement of the budget. It’s been a pretty damn good week. Those nice people at OBR found you £27bn which came in pretty handy when you needed to ‘fine tune’ the austerity timetable. Then that amusing John […]