30th July 2013

My summer internship with Ordnance Survey’s developer outreach team

Luke Hampson

For those of our blog followers that aren’t aware; this summer, Ordnance Survey is running a programme for paid internships. A number of roles were made available for undergraduates interested in working with geospatial data, technology and products as well as roles in Human Resources and Marketing. Ordnance Survey’s developer outreach team accepted the opportunity to be involved in the program and following a round of telephone interviews, were delighted to welcome James Smith to our team.

Today, we have a guest post from James detailing what he has been tasked with and what he’s already achieved during the 3 weeks he’s been with us so far!

“As a summer intern coming to Ordnance Survey I didn’t really know what to expect. Of course, I vaguely knew that it wasn’t all about the paper sheet maps anymore and that a lot of what the national mapping agency does now is based on digital offerings. However, half way through my six week internship in the Products and Innovation team, this blog post is about what I have found out and my experiences whilst being here.

Firstly, I realised that Ordnance Survey deals as much with capturing, producing and maintaining analytical datasets as it does with creating topographic, ‘image based’ backdrop mapping products. This is something I found quite remarkable given the general perception of Ordnance Survey as simply, the ‘map people’.

James - our summer intern

James – our Summer intern

Secondly, I was surprised to discover how much of this data was freely available to order and use via the OS OpenData ordering portal. Previously, I had assumed that Ordnance Survey’s data would be a closely guarded secret but in reality it is the complete opposite! Indeed, there is a team of people whose aim is to make sure people know about OS Open Data and encourage people to use it. I have already made good use of Meridian™ 2 and Boundary-Line™ to map crime and traffic figures in Southampton, whilst reviewing the OS OpenData Masterclass material that the Developer Outreach team have produced.

Last week, I worked on creating a matrix charting the features of a number of developer websites in both the public and private sector, including those of several overseas National Mapping Agencies. Having looked at over a hundred websites ranging from Facebook to L’Espace Professionnel of IGN France, I found some intriguing patterns. For instance, over half of developer websites have a clear link to their API and documentation from their home page whereas less than 5% offer video tutorials to developers. All in all, I reviewed over one hundred developer websites and will be feeding the results back to the management team in the coming days with a view to improving our developer web page.”

The below graph illustrates the type of characteristics that developer websites typically have.


Developer portal research


“I have also been to several developer event planning meetings, helped with the development of the Ordnance Survey website, worked with OpenData Masterclasses and analysed a set of survey results.

If this is what I’ve discovered in the first half of my time here, I wonder what the second half will bring?”