Ordnance Survey are pretty damn good at Derived Data exemptions


For those who are not clued up about the fine detail of derived data and exemption requests, the OS maintains that some data sets produced by it’s licensees may incorporate elements of OS data and thus be classified as derived data. If this is the case (most frequently where OS geometry is directly traced in the licensee’s data e.g. BLPU’s and planning application boundaries) then the licensee needs to request a derived data exemption under the PSMA before they can share this data with bodies outside of the PSMA (i.e you and me). No exemption is required to publish the data in a mapping portal on the licensee’s web site. The thinking behind this, as I understand it, is that someone might be able to create a data product from the derived data sets which would compete with core OS intellectual property. No doubt someone from OS will correct me if this brief summary is incorrect.

About a month ago James Rutter was tweeting (yet again) about the delay in getting a response to his Derived Data Exemption request.

I had heard James moaning about getting an exemption for his planning hub data several times before and my interest was piqued that this request had been outstanding for more than a year. I had thought that problems with derived data had largely been resolved by the processes introduced a few years ago but apparently not.

I submitted a Freedom of Information request to OS through the What Do They Know portal enquiring about the number of derived data exemption requests, the types of data, time to resolve and outcomes (if you haven’t used the What Do They Know service, you should it is incredibly simple). Yesterday just before the close of business on the 20th working day following my request OS came back with a very full response to my request (you can download the spreadsheet here).

The spreadsheet is pretty large and suffers from a little variability of structure but it answers nearly all of the questions asked. To save time I have summarised the interesting stuff:

  • From April 2011 (when DDE started) to Dec 2015 OS have received 743 requests covering 1031 datasets
  • 69% were approved through a “streamline exemption process” with no decision being required
  • 25% were approved after consideration
  • 5% were refused
  • 0.5% (4) were unresolved (awaiting further info from the applicant)
  • The average time to resolve a request where it was not streamlined was 37 days
  • The longest time to resolve was 492 days! That was James’ request and unfortunately it was rejected.

All in all quite impressive, both in terms of the proportion that are approved and the time to resolve those that needed consideration. Clearly the problems that James experienced were exceptional.

A couple of days ago, James tweeted that he was making some progress in resolving Ordnance Survey’s concerns re planning data. Credit where credit is due.

Thanks to Katie Benn, Corporate Governance Manager at Ordnance Survey for her response to my FoI request


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