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