Thursday, 16 December 2010

Utility roadworks add to Christmas chaos

As the winter weather bites, pressure on utilities providers nationwide is increasing dramatically.  Over the last month the number of roadworks resulting from repairs to burst water pipes in London alone increased from an average of 75 per day to over 185.

Peter Hendy, London’s Transport Chief, was critical in his comments about utility firms:

“I am as frustrated as the rest of London at the needless jams caused by poorly planned and managed roadworks.  Transport for London is working hard to smooth traffic flow in the capital, but to make a real difference the utilities must radically reduce the amount of time they spend digging up our roads.”

Business Group London First estimates that congestion caused by roadworks costs London’s economy c£4bn per year.   

One of the schemes being proposed to tackle the volume of roadworks in London involves co-ordinating the work of utilities providers. 

In order to put together workable proposals, planners would be well advised to follow the example set by increasing numbers of professionals and arm themselves with comprehensive utility reports.

Groundwise Utility Reports available from FIND contain up-to-date utility infrastructure plans obtained from an average of 30 utilities and service providers on, under, above and around a specified site.  They are sensibly priced, carefully checked and backed by £2m of professional indemnity insurance.

The information contained in these comprehensive reports is already being used by architects, engineers, legal practices, insurance companies and environmental consultants.  The reports are trusted resources which enable them to save time and money.  In fact, the Groundwise Utility Report is the hottest product in the FIND catalogue.

Visit for more information about what Groundwise Utility Reports can offer you.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Now that’s MAGIC!

Good news...

After posting our blog on 7 December about the imminent closure of the MAGIC website ( we were contacted by Natural England who run the service on behalf of Defra.  While the current website will indeed be closing, the full MAGIC service including all the information and tools that are currently provided will continue to be available on the Defra website. Users should in fact not notice any difference. Natural England will continue to run the service on behalf of the MAGIC partnership. is scheduled to go live on 6 January 2011 and all users will be automatically directed to the new site.


Monday, 29 November 2010

Ordnance Survey shows property sector can improve with location data

An interesting piece of research has just come out from the Ordnance Survey claiming that as much as 36% of people don’t think they make the most of location data in the property sector.

The survey further reveals that the sector is tackling the economic downturn by improving efficiency and cutting costs rather than by cutting fees.  We have picked out some of the main findings from this survey of 270 property professionals.

Dealing with the downturn:
  • 81% see cost cutting and increasing efficiency as the two most important strategies for dealing with the economic downturn
  • A smaller minority (33%) think that reducing prices or fees is the way to tackle current economic challenges
  • Environmental issues are more worrying to architects than property developers: Only 25% of property developers cite environmental issues as a key pressure for business, compared with 46% of architects

Using location data:
  • Whilst 70% use location data predominantly for project planning, 81% consider geographic and location context to be important, very important or essential to business strategy and planning
  • 80% of property developers see location data as very important or essential
  • 97% see the importance of location data increasing or remaining constant and of the respondents who forecast a change in the way that location data is used (32%), 61% forecast an increase in usage
  • Despite this, 47% of engineers, 43% of housing associations and 41% of property advisors surveyed don’t think they are making the most of the location data that is available to them

Data requirements of the property industry:
  • Data relating to planning issues (81%) and land use (80%) are the key requirements for the sector
  • 61% need data on geographical features and boundary lines
  • In comparison to others in the sector, a larger percentage of housing associations rely on demographic profiling data (63%) and information on crime rates (43%)
  • Site location (88%) and planning proposals and applications (83%) constitute the primary use of location data. 70% of the sector will also use the data in design and construction
  • 33% used location data for the purposes of data analysis; however this seems to be more prominent in larger companies with 53% of companies of more than 100 people using it for this purpose, compared to only 29% of companies of under 100 people
Clearly location data is becoming increasingly important when it comes to decision making in the property sector. If you are one of the 36% of people who don’t use location data to its full potential, there are many opportunities to explore, including data analysis for property developers and providing multi-dimensional data on city sites for architects.

FIND provides a host of location data to underpin and support the property sector for more effective business. FIND’s most popular maps, datasets and reports include:

Maps to view, print and export
OS MasterMap 1:1250
Street detail 1:10 000
Locale 1:25 000

Location data to view print and export
Listed buildings
Built heritage sites (Scheduled monuments, World heritage sites, Parks and gardens Battlefields)
Planning application locations
Environment Agency Flood Constraint map
Conservation areas maps
Boundaries (Parishes, Ward, Electoral division, Constituencies (with Member of Parliament name and website link), Local authority district, County)
Postcodes (Including districts and areas)
London Building Heights

Location reports
Historical maps report
Underground Utilities report
Professional commercial flood risk report

Monday, 22 November 2010

Happy 175th Birthday British Geological Survey (BGS)

The Icelandic volcanic eruptions of  2010 demonstrated how much we still need long-term observations of natural events. The BGS (British Geological Survey) has now been providing geological information underpinning the economy and the well-being of people in Britain for 175 years.

Above, sample of BGS 1:10000 scale geology map for Keyworth, Nottingham, UK

The BGS maintains a treasure trove of carefully collected and catalogued specimens and field observations, producing a fundamental work of reference and cutting-edge research. The BGS’s National Geoscience Data Centre (NGDC) functions as the national collection of geoscientific environmental data and information. It contains the most comprehensive collection of information on the surface and subsurface of Great Britain and the surrounding continental shelf. The collection has been gathered over more than 175 years, and even includes some of Charles Darwin’s original specimens from the Galapagos and Ascension islands. The records held within the NGDC comprise over nine million items dating from the eighteenth century to the present day. The total collection occupies over 11 kilometres of shelving with digital storage comprising approximately 195 terabytes. Examples of the digital collections include 22.25 terabytes for maps and 0.5 terabytes for borehole records .

We at FIND are proud to offer many of the BGS’s data sets for commercial access. All data can be viewed and printed online, as well as exported in DWG, DXF, TAB, SHP formats.

Geology maps - large scale (1: 10 000) and small scale (1: 50 000)
Geological maps are useful to a wide range of businesses with interests in planning and development as well as more academic aspects such as the Earth’s geological history, its fossils and its landscape development. Map themes include, faults and rock segments; artificial ground; landslip deposits; superficial deposits; and Bedrock. More info>

Ground stability
The ground stability map layer is derived from geological mapping and is categorised to show areas that are liable to instability and so are potentially hazardous. It is valuable to any organisation that owns or manages property. Ground stability information is divided into six sub-layers: Collapsible deposits; Compressible deposits; Running sands; Slope instability; Soluble rocks; and Swell and shrink. More info>

Borehole index
This layer displays the locations and summary information for all onshore boreholes and water wells held by the British Geological Survey. More info>

Groundwater flooding / Susceptibility to Groundwater Flooding
The BGS's Susceptibility to Groundwater Flooding information displays areas where geological conditions could allow groundwater flooding to occur, and where groundwater may come close to the ground surface. Flooding of this type often lasts longer than river flooding and can result in significant social and economic disruption. More info>

River and coastal flooding / Geological Indicators of Flooding
The British Geological Survey's Geological Indicators of Flooding information is based on the Digital Geological Map of Great Britain at the 1:50 000 scale (DiGMapGB-50). This map shows the areas vulnerable to the two main types of flooding, inland floodplains and coastal plains / estuarine environments in Britain. More info>

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Don’t underestimate the flood risk to your business

This November marks the 10th anniversary of the Great Autumn Floods of 2000 - the UK’s wettest period in since records began. Even as recently as last year, regions including Sheffield and Cumbria were devastated by floods.

Yet many businesses and organisations don’t appreciate the value of knowing their flood risk. With the onset of extreme weather events caused by global warming this risk and potential impact is likely to increase over time.

Above, map displaying EA Flood Zones in Great Yarmouth, East Anglia. Deep blue represents Flood Zone 3, light blue represents Flood Zone 2

It's easy to underestimate the impact of flooding without the right data, maps and intelligence. Many firms often associate hazardous flooding only with rivers and the sea; they don’t think that they’re at risk from surface water flooding. This can result from something as seemingly minor as a nearby ditch or stream. However, in the summer of 2007, sixty percent of insurance claims related to damage caused by flooding arising from surface water.

Those with business premises or who need to asses them have a number of maps, data and reports to help determine the likelihood that the building will sustain major damage in the event of flooding. These tools are essential for ascertaining whether the building is in an at-risk area and allowing precautions to be taken before  problems arise.

FIND offers Environment Agency (EA) and British Geological Survey (BGS) maps and data that can help determine flood risk. Much of this information is available to instantly download for the first time in the UK, you can also order information for small areas, making for a more efficient risk analysis.

EA and BGS data is viewable and printable online, or can be downloaded in DWG, DXF, TAB, and SHP formats. We also offer a variety of self contained reports.

See below for a compact summary of the flood risk information available.

Environment Agency / EA flood related maps and datasets

Flood constraints or Flood Zones - The EA Flood Zone maps are key to steering development toward areas of low flood risk. Flood Zone 2, for example, shows areas of land with an annual probability of flooding of 0.1% or greater from rivers and the sea, but with an annual probability of flooding of less than 1% from rivers or 0.5% from the sea. More info>

NaFRA / National Flood Risk Assessment - The Environment Agency's improved National Flood Risk Assessment (NaFRA) is the standard dataset for determining categories of flood risk in the insurance industry and is key in implementing the Association of British Insurers (ABI) flood agreement with the government. NaFRA provides an indication of flood risk by calculating the actual likelihood of flooding to areas of land within flood plains from an extreme flood (1 in 1000 in any given year). More info>

Historic Floods - The historic floods outline layer shows the individual footprint of every flood event recorded by the Environment Agency. It contains over 21,000 records going back to 1947. More info>

Flood Defences - EA record of the location, condition and design of flood defences in England and Wales that reduce the risk of flooding from main rivers and the sea. More info>

Flood Defended Areas - This dataset contains areas that benefit from flood defences during an event of equivalent magnitude to an event that would present a 1% annual chance of fluvial flood and 0.5% annual chance of tidal flood. More info>

Flood Storage Areas or FSA - Theses areas show zones that act as a balancing reservoir, storage basin or balancing pond. More info>

Detailed River Network / DRN - To assist in the duty of maintaining river quality in England and Wales, the EA have developed a fully attributed and topologically correct river network map, derived in part from OS MasterMap features. More info>

British Geological survey / BGS flood related maps and datasets

Groundwater Flooding -  BGS's Susceptibility to Groundwater Flooding information displays areas where geological conditions could allow groundwater flooding to occur, and where groundwater may come close to the ground surface. Flooding of this type often lasts longer than river flooding and can result in significant social and economic disruption. More info>

River and Coastal Flooding -  BGS’s Indicators of Flooding information is based on the Digital Geological Map of Great Britain at the 1:50 000 scale (DiGMapGB-50). This map shows the areas vulnerable to the two main types of flooding, inland floodplains and coastal plains / estuarine environments in Britain. More info>

Flood Risk reports

FloodInsight report from GroundSure - This is detailed data report for professionals assessing commercial flood risk. The GroundSure FloodInsight includes various detailed flood risk datasets including those from JBA for surface water (pluvial) flood risk; the Environment Agency and the British Geological Survey. More info>

Flood report from GroundSure - This provides clients with a cost-effective detailed assessment and understanding of the flood risk potential associated with residential property. More info>

For more information on our flood risk data go to our Flooding data package page or contact FIND support, tel : 0845 521 1410 or email:

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Is ActiveX stopping you from using online mapping on your Mac or PC? We have the solution

When an online mapping service crashes or fails to display maps properly many service providers blame you. They tell you that there’s something wrong with your ISP or the way your PC is set up.

The root of the problem, however, can frequently be found in the ActiveX software you are required to download in order to run some online mapping services. ActiveX will only work with a limited range of hosts - usually Windows in combination with Internet Explorer (IE). This means that whenever a new version of IE comes out you need to install an ActiveX update.

This problem was highlighted when Windows 7 was released. The ‘professional’ mapping service providers using ActiveX did not respond quickly enough and customers were left in limbo. They were given no idea of when the new operating system would be supported and eventually waited a month and a half before the problem was resolved. We are all busy enough already, surely this is a hassle we can do without.

The problems with ActiveX are magnified if you have to maintain it on a range of PCs. It will only ever work reliably on PC with a specific single combination of Windows and IE. Don’t bother to try using ActiveX on Firefox or Chrome – it simply won’t work. It won’t work on Linux or Macs either. So what’s the answer? Switch to a new mapping platform which doesn’t rely on ActiveX.

One of the reasons that FIND's online mapping platform is straightforward to use is that it doesn’t need ActiveX. Our technology uses Flash, a nifty programme that's automatically installed in over 95% of web browsers. We know that Flash is reliable. It’s behind powerful sites like the BBC and Youtube. FIND also works with Windows, Apple and Linux computers, as well as on Firefox, Chrome and IE web browsers. With FIND you don’t need to lift a finger or involve your IT department. We maintain the software and take care of updates and new releases behind the scenes, without you even noticing.

Register for FIND free here or find out more at

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Maps of High Speed Rail Link through Warwickshire

Earlier this year the Department for Transport announced the proposed route for a high speed rail link between Birmingham and London Euston. For about a third of its length the proposed route passes through Warwickshire.

Above, PDF of a background map with several geo-datasets layered over the top, including the proposed HS2 rail route through Warwickshire, property locations and ownership.

This will have a considerable impact on the area a major consultation is planned for next year. Following a chat with Mariam Crichton, Director of FIND, the team at Warwickshire County Council became excited about the prospect of using PDF mapping layers to inform that consultation process.

The team produced layered maps showing the proposed route of the rail link through the county. The maps show the locations of WCC property, ecological, archeological and historic landscape sites along the route. Also, the maps link to the detailed plans on the HS2 website.

Because PDF maps can be viewed regardless of hardware or operating system this makes them extremely accessible to the general public. In addition, they can be applied and viewed either individually or built up in layers. This gives much of the functionality of a sophisticated online mapping system, but at a fraction of the cost.

Using maps in this way has not only enabled the team at Warwickshire to inform the public about plans and the development of those plans, it has also allowed a broad range of interested parties to become involved in the process. The maps have also prompted people with detailed local knowledge to give valuable feedback. 

One of the team told us, "PDF maps have been of great help. We have had incredible user feedback from the public. It's a fantastic way to provide a wealth of mapping data in an easy to understand, accessible format. Users have even identified flaws which we have been able to correct."

At FIND we are delighted that the GIS team at Warwickshire County Council has used PDF mapping in such an innovative and imaginative way. Their work has helped to show the public what a powerful tool it can be.

HS2 WCC website

Monday, 18 October 2010

Avoiding the new conservation area constraints for estate agents

Recently, several Local Authorities have banned 'For sale' boards within conservation areas. In London this policy has already been adopted by several boroughs.

Kensington and Chelsea were the first to enforce the ban on 27th September shortly followed by Camden, Hammersmith & Fulham, and Westminster. The same restrictions currently apply in parts of Bath, Brighton, and Bristol; more Local Authorities are expected to follow suit.

Above, Conservation Areas over the FIND OS Plan map (OS MapsterMap Topography, 1:1250)

When new regulations like this are introduced it is essential that planners, developers and estate agents know about them. Failure to keep abreast of changes can result in additional costs and even legal action.

If you have the time to devote to searching for detailed information about how these restrictions apply you will find it no doubt tucked away on individual Local Authority websites. However, we know from experience that this can involve trawling through long and detailed planning documents - often emerging none the wiser about how your site is affected.

At FIND we have already done the searching for you. Our conservation area maps can be instantly viewed online, giving you the information you need to get on with the job in hand.

Conservation Areas on
FIND offers conservation areas to view and print over ordnance survey maps.
Tell me more

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Ordnance Survey new pricing and licensing model

Last week the Ordnance Survey revealed phase one of its new pricing and licensing model, with phase two due out in the new year. The aim is to enable greater access to Ordnance Survey products and geographic datasets under a simplified structure.

Above, OS MasterMap on 

A lot of time and effort has obviously gone into creating these changes; the new model means companies like FIND will have greater flexibility in how they can onward license Ordnance Survey products. This will encourage more organisations to go online and use desktop analysis as a routine part of their work. Ultimately, there will be an increase in the use of sophisticated professional online mapping tools like

The new licensing arrangements will allow FIND to be more flexible and imaginative in how we use data to create web solutions for our clients. We look forward to even more progress in this direction from Ordnance Survey.

FIND offers several OS products to view, print and export:

1:1250 MasterMap - OS Plan
1:1250 MasterMap - FIND Map
1:10000 Ordnance Survey map "Street View"
1:10000 Ordnance Survey map "Street detail"
1:25000 Ordnance Survey map "Locale"
1:50000 Ordnance Survey map "Town"
1:250000 Ordnance Survey map "GB"
Boundaries (Parishes, Ward, Electoral division, Constituencies' Local authority district, County)
Contours (Panorama 50m)
Contours (Profile 5m - 10m)
Postal addresses
Postcode areas
Postcode districts

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Michael Palin launches ‘Britain from the Air’ aerial photography exhibition

100 stunning aerial photographs of Britain’s natural and human landscapes accompanied by a huge OS walk-on map will be launched by Michael Palin, President of the Royal Geographical Society, in Bath on September 28.

Oare's heart-shaped wood features in the aerial photo exhibition in Bath

Free to view and accessible 24 hours a day, this extraordinary outdoor exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to see Britain as they have never seen it before and to walk the length and breadth of the country over a 16x8m Ordnance Survey map, exploring the precise location of each large-scale image.

 Michael Palin says: "Our landscapes in Britain tell the stories of our heritage, bring alive the beauty of our environment, and challenge us all to understand the changes taking place in our towns and cities. All too often, chasing far-away places, we forget just what beauty we have on our doorstep and just how varied Britain is, even today.

"This exhibition is designed to celebrate this diversity and shows us, very powerfully, just what we're missing down here on the ground. The stories of these landscapes are revealed – so visitors can truly explore and discover something new," he said.

Created jointly by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) with street gallery pioneers Wecommunic8, and supported by the Ordnance Survey, Britain from the Air captures Britain’s beauty as seen from its skies. Mountain valleys carved by glaciers, saw-toothed coastlines edged by glistening waters, abandoned villages and sprawling transport networks – all the aerial images tell their story with text, historical images and maps.

More information from Royal Geographical Society
Need aerial photography? FIND offers both Historical, Modern and High resolution aerial photography

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Have you signed up for the FIND newsletter yet? Its free so there’s no reason to miss out

Our monthly newsletter has been out for a number of issues now and we thought we’d give the heads up to people that haven't signed up for it yet.

For those who don’t know it contains pertinent news on developments in the property and environment sectors, top map annotation tips, product spotlights showing how data can enhance your business, as well as links to our most popular blog posts.

To sign up, simply go to the ‘Sign up to the FIND newsletter’ panel on the FIND front page and enter your email address to receive monthly newsletter by email:

To read previous newsletters go to:

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Get ahead by adopting modern mapping practices

With smartphones and netbooks becoming the norm, our personal use of technology has rapidly become sophisticated. But what about the use of technology in the work place to help us be as efficient and smart as possible?

Microsoft's internet browser, Internet Explorer 6, is a prime example of redundant technology still present in the workplace; many large web companies such as Google, Youtube and Facebook have all begun ending support for it, with world usage of IE6 at 8.9% in July 2010, down from 48.5% in July 2007. Yet many large and small businesses and government agencies continue to use IE6 as they have come to rely on it for their internal software.

Its not just on the web where trends are changing in the workplace; most architects have moved on from pen-to-paper drawings in favour of CAD, and developers and surveyors have moved from Google Earth to a dedicated mapping provider like ourselves; those that are adopting modern practices will quickly be ahead of those that do not. People don't like changing their old habits, but if they ignore new technology, they could find themselves far behind and paying a heavy price.

Even some mapping providers seem to be trailing the pack in keeping up with trends and satisfying clients' ever growing needs. Here at FIND we understand those needs, and therefore we strive to be leaders in our field rather than followers.

To start using FIND register for free here

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

London Design Festival architecture highlights

The London Design festival is a nine-day celebration of design in the world’s creative capital between 10-26 September. We take a moment to look at some of the stunning architecture related highlights.

Bygone era architectural placemats
New from ‘people will always need plates’, these placemats and coasters that 'pay tribute to the architecture of Britain throughout the ages'. They've been selected by Hidden Art as part of their Hidden Art Select 2010 range launched during the London Design Festival.

Get these placemats and more from the Hidden Art Stand during the festival:

Model city and other models exhibition by drdharchitects 
In December 2009 drdharchitects participated in the Shenzhen Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale 2009. Responding to the theme of ‘City Mobilisation’, they sought to address the individual and collective lives of the inhabitants and future inhabitants of the World’s big cities. With the help of local school children from Shenzhen, they created a miniature city made of clay. Ten workshops were organised in local schools where 500 children between the ages of 7-11, participated in the making of the clay houses.

The exhibition is accompanied by a selection of models and photographs of the practice’s work.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion designed by world-renowned French architect Jean Nouvel 
This summer the Serpentine presents the 10th Serpentine Gallery Pavilion designed by world-renowned French architect Jean Nouvel. The Pavilion project, conceived by Julia Peyton-Jones in 2000, remains unique worldwide and has established London as an international site for architectural experimentation, challenging the world’s greatest living architects to present their best work to the British public for the first time. 

John Pawson ‘Plain Space’ exhibition at the Design Museum 
Plain Space celebrates Pawson’s career from the early 1980s to date and includes a selection of landmark commissions including the Sackler Crossing at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the new Cistercian Monastery of Our Lady of Novy Dvur in the Czech Republic and Calvin Klein’s iconic flagship store in New York, as well as current and future projects.

Using a rich range of media the exhibition will explore projects from Pawson’s career. Specially commissioned, large-scale photography will look at his architecture in the landscape.

Feel free to let us know your festival highlights and we will add them to the list.

FIND is fast becoming architects' favourite source for mapping with its competitive pricing, easy-to-use export tools, a wide range of height models, aerial photography and over 100 other datasets. Use FIND for downloading MasterMap for use in your CAD system, printing maps for planning applications as well performing an instant desktop site analysis for your project area. Compatible with Apple Macs and all internet browsers.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Scale matters when using digital maps for surveys

Misunderstanding the meaning of scale and its application to surveys can result in products which don't meet anticipated needs. Scale is important because it defines overall content and accuracy of a survey in a very basic way.

Fundamentally scale is not absolutely related to accuracy but in a graphical product it will limit the accuracy that can be achieved.  For example, 1:1 means what it says; a survey which is life size. It does not mean ‘dimensioned in metres rather than drawing millimetres’. For example, 1:100 means that an object 1m long on the ground will be 10mm long on the plan. When talking about relative scale size, a scale of 1:50 is larger than 1:100 and would require a larger hardcopy plan to represent the same physical object or area.

Understanding how scale are used in surveys means producing the required amount of detail to the desired accuracy, without needing to understand all the processes involved. Of course, if you are familiar with specifying surveys then a full specification will get the best for your project, but if that is not your favourite pastime then getting the scale right is a good second best. However, remember for unmapped territory you need a full Chartered Surveyor.

So where do we start? First of all, what accuracy do we need? Traditionally, surveyors will show detail correct to within 0.2mm at the plotted scale. So, if you want detail to be accurate to within 50mm, you should specify a plot scale of 1:250. But don’t forget that this is a guide. It does not apply to underground services and if the accuracy of any feature is critical you should tell the surveyor. Secondly, what detail needs to be shown (resolution)? Normally we show any point objects to scale if they are larger than 1mm at the plotted scale.

Read more on the RICS website about scale
View, print and export maps at different scales on FIND

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Can information be beautiful? The rise of infographics

Increasingly we are living in a world  where often overwhelmingly large amounts of data are becoming available. ‘Infographics’ specialises in simplifying complexity into an easy to understand and attractive format.
The leading light of the infographics movement in the UK is David McCandless. His recently published book, ‘Information is beautiful’, contains dozens of vivid, modern and  extremely smart info-maps, graphs and charts. The subjects dealt with are diverse, from alternative health to the Billion Pound-O-Gram, that displays the vast amounts spent on everything from the war in Iraq to the drug trade using 2008/09 figures from the Treasury.

Mapping all manner of things in this way allows completely fresh way of understanding. Have a look at these stunning examples below and see for yourself.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Free London Building height map offer extended until 10th of September 2010

Good news, we are extending our new free London building height map offer until 10/09/2010. This will give those who have been on holiday a chance to try this new and exclusive FIND layer.

For those who don't know, the map allows you to see at a glance the average and maximum height of any London building, its area and volume, complete with the estimated number of residential and commercial floors. The map is ideal for viewing your site within the context of its surrounds, submitting height values with your planning applications, and getting a feel for the building canopy of an area.

All you need to do to take advantage of this offer is logon to FIND anytime until 10th September 2010, and simply view the height map.

Read more about London Building Height Map layer
Download product overview (PDF)
Read about London Building Height map's accuracy

Friday, 13 August 2010

Government school building scheme cut opportunities

There has recently been a furore about the axing of the (previous) government's 'Building Schools for the Future' scheme, leaving some 715 projects out of 1,500 cancelled, and its impact on the construction industry.

Originally the scheme was meant to revamp all 3,500 schools in England by 2023, and while the governments aims were laudable, the reality was somewhat different; BSF's first target was 200 schools rebuilt by the end of 2008, the number actually rebuilt was 35.

Despite this and the current government's propensity for cuts, this still leaves some 785 projects still available and given the current state of the construction industry, it is vital for companies that these projects still go ahead. It is also important that they try to maximise their profit in this time of recession recovery and enable these valuable projects to come in on time and on budget.

At FIND we have a wide selection of services and data to help these companies to fully realise their projects. From plotting planning applications and Land Registry titles to height maps and 3D building models, along with a wide range of planning and environmental information and cutting-edge consultancy services, we are able to offer our users a holistic solution while saving precious time and money.

Detailed product information on plotted planning applications
Detailed product information on plotting Land Registry titles
Detailed product information on 3D building model
Detailed product information on height maps
Detailed product information on FIND consultancy services

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Map and data licencing is a must - are you up-to-date?

There is currently a lot of financial pressure to cut corners, licencing is something you cannot afford to be without. Data managers, particularly in large environmental consultancies, are responsible for ensuring legitimate data use and must be aware of the consequences of failing to do so.

Why is this so important? Well maintaining an up-to-date licence is a legal requirement for use of data from Ordnance Survey, Environment Agency and many other providers. Not having the correct licence could invalidate indemnity insurance and result in costly legal fees. Dan Hughes, Ordnance Survey Land and Property sector manager, comments: “The benefits of ensuring data is appropriately licensed are numerous; for example reducing the risk of decisions based on out of date data or maintaining professional reputations. A system that can support the end user monitor their licences and their obligations helps them to reduce their overall risk.”

FIND recognises the importance of maintaining data licensing and have developed a tool to help data managers. Our new Expired Data Licence Management Tool means all data purchased is logged and monthly email reminders are sent whenever a data licence has expired. Licences for data can then be re-purchased and re-download, or just declared that they have been deleted or archived.

Ultimately, this new tool helps organisations demonstrate transparent licencing during audits for hundreds of datasets they may hold. It does this by allowing a company to centrally manage and track data licenses, as well as be informed of when they are due to expire, and quickly renew licenses as necessary.

FIND’s cost effective data licence management tool is completely free to use; simply log in to view expired data licenses. The tool tracks over 100 different datasets available through FIND that need licences. It displays an entire data export history on one page, this can be filtered to show individual users or results for a whole company. This functionality ads to our existing easy renewal and purchase of Ordnance Survey Paper Map Copy and Plan Design Build licences.

Let us know your experiences with keeping up-to-date with licencing.

Detailed product information on Expired Data Licence Management Tool
Detailed product information on Ordnance Survey Paper Map Copy Licence
Detailed product information on OS MasterMap with Plan Design Build licence

Thursday, 5 August 2010

FIND August 2010 new release - Expired data licence tool, Free London height map & Land Registry plotting

Our latest release introduces an important new service; the expired data licence management tool. It's relevant to nearly every professional user of maps and data, helping your company hold data legally.

Also be sure to check out our FREE London Building Height Map offer, the most accurate map of its kind in the UK. Other release highlights include a new Land Registry plotting service, popular with legal property professionals, and detailed 3D building models for Architects and CAD modellers.

Above, 3D Building model of St Paul's Cathedral, London

Expired data licence management tool - This new system allows your company to track its data licenses, be informed of when they are due to expire, and quickly renew licenses as needed. Maintaining an up-to-date licence is a legal requirement for use of data from Ordnance Survey, Environment Agency and many other major providers.

Dan Hughes, Ordnance Survey Land & Property sector manager, said "The benefits of ensuring data is appropriately licensed are numerous; for example reducing the risk of decisions based on out of date data or maintaining professional reputations. A system that can support the end user monitor their licences and their obligations helps them to reduce their overall risk."

FREE London building height map for two weeks only - Our new London building height map layer is free to view for the first two weeks of August. Now you can trial the UK's most accurate building height map at no cost. All you need to do to take advantage of this offer is logon to FIND between the 1st and 14th of August 2010 and simply turn on the height map.

Land Registry Plotting Service - This service plots title boundaries you have purchased via the FIND mapping portal, allowing you to see where they are in relation to each other and current properties. With all this information in one place, FIND provides you with an invaluable tool to manage your property portfolio

3D Building Models - These new models have the highest level of detail and accuracy currently available. They offer Architects and CAD modellers a real life representation of a site or project area and can be dropped straight into CAD programs with no additional processing necessary

FloodInsight Report from GroundSure - This is a detailed data report for professionals assessing commercial flood risk. Includes various detailed flood risk datasets from JBA consulting, the Environment Agency and the British Geological Survey.

Read more about our new release

Monday, 2 August 2010

New EA Aquifer classification still with limited access

Land quality and geotechnical teams always need comprehensive data to support their professions. Recent open and flexible data licensing are really helping, but this is not always the case, with some datasets a lot more ‘open’ than others.

Above, Environment Agency Aquifer data (Groundwater Vulnerability and Low Permeability Drift) over an Ordnance Survey map in FIND

A new classification of aquifer vulnerability for England and Wales was launched earlier this year that affects land contamination assessment. This new classification system – Aquifer Designation Map (Superficial Deposits) and Aquifer Designation Map (Bedrock Geology) – now supersedes the aquifer class in the EA’s older Groundwater Vulnerability.

Currently, the new maps are only available on-line through the EA’s ‘What’s in your Backyard’ feature, however, the EA have also released an Advisory Note. The note explains that the ‘EA has not released these datasets for commercial resale as these are British Geologiocal Survey intellectual property’. This is because the aquifer classification is based on the BGS 1:50k DiGMapGB-50 data. Its even been been seriously suggested that the new aquifer classification data will eventually become additional attribute fields within the BGS 1:50k DiGMapGB-50.

This has massive cost implications for an environmental consultancy wishing to hold this dataset at a national level. Previously, an annual data licence for UK coverage of the Environment Agency's Groundwater vulnerability dataset in a GIS format was in the order of £2500 per annum. A recent enquiry suggested a licence for a WMS (Web Mapping System) for delivering the 1:50k digital maps for internal business use into a commercial company for UK coverage from the British Geological Survey would be well over £100k per annum.

 The current trend that data producers and suppliers in the public sector are working together to produce up to date datasets has allowed innovative services like FIND and the companies who use us to blossom. However, often issues relating to intellectual property rights, data licencing and copyright put too many restrictive barriers in the way of being able to share and make these datasets available. While we appreciate producing joint licensing arrangements among large data providers may prove tricky, having major data sets out of reach environmental companies fighting a recession, goes against the trend of opening up data. We look forward to changes in this area, and offering the new aquifer maps on FIND.

What do you think? - Why not get in touch and let us know your thoughts.

Read more about aquifer data on FIND

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Boris' new protected views for central London

As holders of the only central view database in the UK, we allways keep up-to-date with protected view news. Boris Johnson has today published new guidance aimed at increasing the protection of London’s historic views.

Above, example of a protected vista mapped to property-level detail

In the London Views Management Framework the Mayor of London has introduced two new protected views between St Paul’s Cathedral and the Palace of Westminster.

The new protected vistas add to the 11 existing protected views in the area, are from the Serpentine Bridge and from Parliament Hill to the Palace of Westminster. The framework also strengthens the protections of views to St Paul’s and the guidance says that “developers and planners must carefully consider the height of new buildings that are built within these corridors”.

Johnson said: “High quality, well-designed and thoughtfully located new buildings add to the enjoyment of our city and can help London’s economy grow and prosper. I am confident it provides greater certainty for developers on how new buildings can enhance, rather than detract from, some of London’s favourite townscapes and views of the magnificent River Thames and will help deliver a smoother development process.”

Rest assured, we at FIND will be updating our protected view report, produced from the only central view database in the UK, as soon as possible.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Free London building height map for two weeks only

We are offering our new London building height map layer as free to view for the first two weeks of August. So right now is a great opportunity to trial the UK's most accurate building height map at no cost.

For those who don't know, the map allows you to see at a glance the average and maximum height of any London building, its area and volume, complete with the estimated number of residential and commercial floors. The map is ideal for viewing your site within the context of its surrounds, submitting height values with your planning applications, and getting a feel for the building canopy of an area

Above image: FIND's London Building Height Map (building heights in meters are overlaid over property footprints, with darker orange representing higher buildings)

All you need to do to take advantage of this offer is logon to FIND during the offer period, between the 1st and 14th of August 2010, and simply view the height map.

Read more about London Building Height Map layer
Download product overview (PDF)
Read about London Building Height map's accuracy

Thursday, 15 July 2010

New 'garden grab' regulation creates headache for planners and developers

New regulations to curb 'Garden Grabbing' have created a real headache for planners and developers. The changes include redefining brownfield land to exclude gardens and abolishing minimum housing density targets.

Why is this such a headache? Well it will be easier for councils to resist applications from developers to build in back gardens. This will hurt the developers who often use this kind of land for their developments, forcing them to look even harder for suitable alternatives. In order to capitalise on a reduced number of sites, planners and developers are forced to rely more and more on desktop site analysis to determine suitability, project costs and highlight potential issues.

Here at FIND, we offer a wide selection of tools and information to aid site analysis for planning and development professionals, from planning constraint mapping, Ordnance Survey mapping, aerial photography and our new Land Registry service. We aim to help planners and developers take the initiative and maximise the potential of the sites they do have access to, while avoiding costly issues like searching for information and the need for site visits, secure in the knowledge that our data is regularly updated, instantly accessible and easily shared with colleagues.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Video guide to protected views for surveyors

FIND have helped produce a video to guide surveyors through the little known and often confusing protected view planning constraint. It also includes an overview of FIND's exclusive protected view report produced from the only central view database in the UK.

Watch the below videos to learn about protected views and FIND’s unique UK wide protected view report. FIND’s Director, Mariam Crichton, talks through the need-to-know information about the report, and Partner at GIA and leading Rights of Light specialist, Michael Harper, gives his expert opinion on the importance of dealing with this complex planning constraint effectively.

View more information on FIND’s Protected Views Report
View more information on FIND’s Protected Views hazard map
Read the RICS article on protected views
Sign up to view full video at Surveyors' Channel

Friday, 9 July 2010

NLA Festival - Tales of the City: Tagging Shoreditch and Beyond

At the recent London Festival of Architecture we discovered a fantastic use of a location based service: Tales of the City inviting local people to add their voices to London's architecture.
Via the project it captures people’s memories of objects and has been playing them back via small readable and writeable QR codes and RFID tags. Tales of the City extends the concept into the urban realm with the architecture of the city able to replay memories of its history.
The project will enable participants to add their own tales to buildings and view stories that other people have left. The project has been tagging architecture since its launch in April 2010, most notably Broadcasting House in Portland Place and a wall in Chalk Farm which when scanned replays how the wall used to look with a Banksy Stencil in place. Tales of the City starts off with a pre-placed tag at the historic heart of Shoreditch, St Leonard's Church. From there you will be able to spot tags (QR codes) on Shoreditch High Street which you can add your own stories to, contributing to the growing network of tagged architecture. This will enable people to form a personalised tour of London’s contemporary history through architecture. If you have an iPhone or an Android handset be sure to download our free app - talesofthings to enable you to leave comments on the QR codes, or create your own codes to put on your favourite buildings.

For a full list of all locations that have been tagged (including a tattoo parlour, hairdresser, bars, gardens,
shops) visit

See how FIND can map your business information

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

FIND's 29 free maps and datasets expanded by more maps from Ordnance Survey

Did you know FIND houses one of the largest free map and data libraries in the UK?

Our new release expands this with two new products released as a result of Ordnance Survey's OpenData initiative; Landform Panorama, a broad brush terrain model of the UK, and Street View, a 1:10000 scale map.

Street View can be viewed, printed and exported completely for free. Landform Panorama is also free to export and has even been made uniquely available as a hill-shade map layer. There are no 'express service' charges; with FIND remaining committed to providing free data that really is free.

Let us know what you will do with all this free map and data. See below for the massive list of 31 free maps and datasets currently available on FIND, from data providers including Ordnance Survey, Natural England, English Heritage, Scottish Heritage, Getmapping, Scottish Government, Countryside Council for Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage, RSPB and many more:

Free base maps

Free heritage data

Free environmental data

Free Geology and Mining data

Free height data

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

New Ordnance Survey land and property publication

The Ordnance Survey has just released a new publication called ‘Intelligence for the land and property market’. The publication features leading individuals in the sector talking about the key matters concerning the industry and the impact of location.

The current issue includes articles by Francis Salway, chief executive of Land Securities; Adrian Dobson, director of practice at RIBA; Jamie Talmage, retail analyst at BDO LLP; and Patrick Law, director of corporate affairs at Barratt.

With nearly £100 billion worth of economic activity in Britain dependent upon OS data we think its great that the OS is further engaging with the land and property sector. With the current issue has some high profile players giving their views on the importance of location based intelligence, we look forward to upcoming issues.

To obtain the latest issue email stating whether you would prefer printed or electronic format.

Link to current online version of the Land and Property quarterly magazine:

View Ordnance Survey maps available on FIND 
View property and planing intelligence data on FIND

Monday, 5 July 2010

FIND always updates without you having to lift a finger

Our users frequently tell us FIND is a joy to use because it features none of the unnecessary complications experienced on other mapping sites. Why? Well FIND doesn't use Active X, and is a completely Flash based web mapping system.
Flash is a nifty programme that's automatically installed in over 95% of web browsers, and makes many powerful sites like the BBC and YouTube run seamlessly. This means you can enjoy all of FIND updates and new releases without having to lift a finger. Using FIND allows you to avoid involving your IT Department, saving you and them valuable time that would have otherwise been wasted on software maintenance. IT managers tell us Flash based software like FIND is a joy to work with because it frees them up for more important tasks by reducing time spent dealing with high maintenance software like ActiveX.

Active X, found on many old style mapping websites, has many pitfalls; requiring frequent updates that need separate downloads as well as restrictions on the type web browser and PC you can use. Further hassles include needing special ‘Administrator’ privileges to install Active X, and this must be done on every single computer in your network by your IT team. This makes it very cumbersome, slow and high maintenance to use. Flash avoids all of this.

Nearly 10% of FIND users are also Mac users. As a Microsoft product, ActiveX was specifically designed to work with Windows systems, not Mac OS X or GNU/Linux. FIND’s Flash based software has no such issues and works cross platform. We are a Mac users dream mapping site.

FIND remains committed to being easy to use. Tell us your compatibility issues.