Monday, 9 December 2013

Seasons Greeting's from FIND Maps

We thought we would take the opportunity to celebrate the festive season by producing a Christmas themed map using just the tools available on our free site -

The above example uses a unique map background created with the 'Customise Map' feature. Usually the Google Map comes in its classic map legend, but we have changed the map colours to produce a Christmas styled map theme.

The wreath and the snow have been created using just two annotation tools: circles and lines. You can edit the above map and a have a go at producing your own version with this link.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

FIND Maps now with enhanced map printing

We’ve been asking our users what improvements they’d like to see to FIND Maps. The top response was easier map printing. So we’ve responded, and introduced a couple of significant enhancements to printing.

Printing is important because it enables users to get map and accompanying annotations out of and into a savable and sendable format (PDF or JPEG). The only other way to do this is to ‘export’ the map as data, but this requires high-end professional mapping software to open.

Our software engineers have now added additional map printing functionality to the site to make things faster and easier. The first change makes editing saved prints more straightforward. Now once you've saved a project the print area is clearly marked with a red border on the map screen.

Picture of the saved print frame on the
The new saved print frame on the map screen

This new feature makes previous print areas immediately apparent; making it easier to identify them and will help users to avoid paying again for duplicate prints. It will also make it easier for users to change text and annotation on the print if needed.

The second new feature adds four standard print defaults scales to all maps. This means you can save time by selecting from frequently used standard map scales when printing. For example, if you are printing ‘Street’ map, it can be printed at 1:10 000 scale by selecting this from the drop down menu.

While making these changes to printing we have also taken the time to reduce the cost of printing the ‘Town’ map (1:50 000). Printing is now £1 for the first Km² and just 6p for each subsequent Km².

We're continually enhancing FIND Maps and adding new data/reports. If you have any ideas about how we might improve the site please send your suggestions to:

Monday, 22 July 2013

Streamlining Land Registry SIM searches

Are you paying for unnecessary maps to get your SIM? 

A Land Registry ‘search of the index map’ (SIM) allows you to discover all land titles as well as any unregistered land within or intersecting a search area. While this may sound simple, it can be a time consuming and costly process.

Who owns this land? Does anyone own it? A SIM can tell you.
CC Image courtesy of ComputerHotline on Flickr

If you’re not yet using FIND Maps for your SIM searches you’re likely to be buying a detailed and expensive map from one website and then submitting it to the Land Registry website.

At FIND Maps you can eliminate the need to buy an expensive map and order the SIM on just one website, saving you both time and money.

Ordering a SIM without the need to buy a map separately

Firstly, you don’t need to pay to view the map on screen because at FIND you can view up to 15 hectares of OS MasterMap free of charge. The OS MasterMap is the detailed OS map required for SIM searches.

Secondly, you don’t need to ‘print’ the map. To order your SIM via FIND you simply draw your search area on the map screen and then submit the search using an online form.

The benefits of ordering a SIM via the FIND website really do add up. As well as saving the cost of printing (around £20 each time), you also save yourself the hassle of using multiple websites to complete your search.

SIM searches are available from FIND Maps for £8 (excluding VAT)

Register and get a SIM
More detail on how to order a SIM via FIND Maps
SIM product page on FIND Maps

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Is Open Source right for your GIS data? It could save you a lot!

The economic climate is harsh and pressure to reduce expenditure and capital outlay means that difficult decisions must be made. At the same time organisations need to maintain quality and remain competitive.

 It’s therefore no surprise that difficult questions are being asked about IT costs.

Glasgow streets in QGIS.
CC Image courtesy of marcoflight on Flickr, Map data (c) OpenStreetMap contributors, CC-BY-SA.
Commercial GIS software offers both advantages and disadvantages: 

• restrictive licensing
• bundled options (with add-ons for 3D Analyst etc)
• active vendor support/passive customer.

Open Source, by contrast, offers: 

• open licensing
• unbundled packages
• active customer/passive vendor support – which creates the need for system support provided either ‘in house’ or via a third party.

Open Source GIS is probably the most disruptive change within the GIS software sector in 25 years.

For companies contemplating whether Open Source GIS would deliver benefits, there are several key factors to consider:

• cost
• flexibility
• lack of vendor lock-in
• open data formats
• opportunity for customisation
• implementation time
• interaction with the development community.

To date, the GIS market has been dominated by large companies such as ESRI, CADCORP and MapInfo. Smaller consultancies have been hampered by the high price of GIS products and have therefore scaled down their GIS investment or limited their GIS implementation strategies. This has led to lack of competition and inefficiency.

Switching to Open Source GIS and web services offers considerable cost savings to large companies. These include reduced license fees, increased product flexibility and low cost intranet implementation. What Open Source GIS offers smaller consultancies is a low or zero cost entry point to GIS implementation.

This means that they will be able to compete with the larger companies, while their greater flexibility will allow them to develop and deliver specialist bespoke services to clients.

So what’s the current state of Open Source GIS and how does it fit with GIS usage?

Are you loving the benefits of Open Source?
CC Image courtesy of marcoflight on Flickr, Map data (c) OpenStreetMap contributors, CC-BY-SA.
For many years people used Open Source GIS in the form of packages such as Grass. These packages were often highly specialised and the interfaces were far from ‘user friendly’. The market has moved on considerably.

At FIND Maps we use QGIS as well as ArcGIS, CadCorp and MapInfo. Many independent studies have ranked the core functionality of QGIS above other commercial packages and it’s our clear favourite. The package is totally license free and consistent with ArcGIS in terms of its ability to both manipulate and perform spatial data analysis, and interface with geodatabases. QGIS is simple to understand and it comes with a range of plugins that expand its efficacy.

We've recently implemented the Globe plugin which gives 3D capability. This allows detailed analysis of custom DEM data. In addition, QGIS can interface with Open Source 3D modelling packages such as Blender to perform complex visualisations and scenario testing, or with Marxan’s QGIS version of its habitat modelling tool.

Any organisation considering a move to the Open Source GIS environment will want to know the level of support being offered. FIND Mapping has extensive expertise in QGIS and other Open Source technologies and offers a subscription support service.

FIND also offers training to ensure that clients gain maximum benefit from their investment. The ‘First Look’ afternoon seminar provides an overview of the software and costs just £45 per head. If a deeper insight is required or we identify a need for more specific and detailed training, we can offer a one day seminar at a cost of £100 per head. The seminars are held just a few minutes from Waterloo Station in central London. Effective training is often a relatively small investment that has the potential to deliver huge savings.

Please contact if you are interested in any of the above training.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Overview of CIRIA C681 stages for dealing with UXO risk with BombRisk

Unexploded ordnance (UXO) risk management is a key part of the planning process for any construction, development or infrastructure project in the UK. CIRIA C681 UXO guidelines set out four stages for managing this risk.

The below chart gives a brief overview of theses stages and questions that need to be answered in order to progress through the UXO Risk management process.

Flow chart overview for dealing with CIRIA C681 UXO Risk Management
(click image for larger version)

FIND and BACTEC’s BombRisk assessment is specially designed for dealing with the first stage of this process and allows even a non-expert to make a decision about moving on to the next stage if necessary. Uniquely, the BombRisk report is able to give an answer instantly. Additionally, if a more detailed assessment is subsequently taken up with BACTEC the price of the BombRisk report (£175) is fully deducted.

Go to to order assessments and view samples.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Crossrail developers unearth plague pit full of skeletons

Recent development on London's Crossrail project at Charterhouse Square has unexpectedly unearthed bodies from the Black Death that date back to the Middle Ages.

While a significant plague burial ground was previously known to be somewhere outside the City of London its exact location remained unknown until now. So far thirteen bodies have been found in the 5.5m-wide shaft.

Crossrail Charterhouse development Black Death burial find (Image: Crossrail)
"We've found archaeology from pretty much all periods - from the very ancient prehistoric right up to a 20th-Century industrial site, but this site is probably the most important medieval site we've got," said Jay Carver, project archaeologist for Crossrail.

Archaeologists working for Crossrail and the Museum of London are continuing the excavation to unearth yet more remains on the site. This discovery adds to an already impressive range of remains found during the Crossrail development. These include:

skeletons near Liverpool Street
a Bronze-Age transport route
the largest piece of amber ever found in the UK

FIND works in partnership with Crossrail's archaeology and heritage consultant Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) to produce HeritageRisk reports for vital early heritage site assessment. These  provide site assessment of likely built heritage and archaeological issues for development sites. They are suitable for development feasibility studies, negotiations, due diligence, budget forecasts, acquisition decisions and project planning.

Find out more :
View the Crossrail Charterhouse site on

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

FIND 2012 highlights and the year ahead in spatial data services

FIND's director, Simon Lewis, gives a run down of 2012 and offers a taster of things to come for 2013.

January is traditionally a time for taking stock and making plans, looking back and forwards, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to recap on what we did in 2012 and mention a few things coming that are going to make 2013 an exciting year for spatial data services.

2012 was very busy, we developed and launched a number of innovative sites and services designed to help you solve your business problems with spatial data:
2013 will see the launch of more exciting new products to help you access data as, when and how you want it:
  • data as online services – no need for local storage, just subscribe to our unique marine data feeds and away you go 
  • more instant site report services - we're working on some great products that will really save you time and money 
  • and don't forget our online data portal – providing instant access to an unrivalled collection of UK spatial data
If you need mapping tools within your organisation do get in touch, as you can see we have great technology and the ability to build unique online mapping applications!

Wishing you a healthy, happy and prosperous year,


Simon Lewis
FIND Managing Director