Free Our Data: the blog

A Guardian Technology campaign for free public access to data about the UK and its citizens

OS makes OpenSpace open to all. However..

Having had a closed “alpha” session of its OpenSpace mapping API (application programming interface), Ordnance Survey is now opening it up to everyone – well, everyone who’s not going to use it commercially.

From today, anyone who registers at the OS OpenSpace website can access up to 30,000 “tiles” or extracts of data and up to 1,000 placename lookups a day. Users can add markers, lines and polygons on top of Ordnance Survey mapping, search for place names with a gazetteer and display other location data from elsewhere on the Web.

The platform is a JavaScript API that uses “slippy map” technology, so users can grab and move images in different directions. As well as the API itself, OS OpenSpace will include a community website so developers can discuss, review and collaborate on projects.

You can register as an OpenSpace developer at

The problem is of course that those 1,000 placename lookups and 30,000 tiles will get used up pretty quickly for any successful site. The irony is that any site where OpenSpace has a big impact won’t be able to use it as the success grows – as was pointed out previosuly.

Also: no ads (so what about Google’s AdSense or Yahoo’s ad network?). And of course the copyright in any product you create remains partly (perhaps wholly..) with OS.

So far and yet so.. not far.

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