3rd October 2013

Parallel win award for innovative use of OS OpenData


Ordnance Survey sponsors and judges one of the British Cartographic Society (BCS) awards and this was its maiden year as the OS OpenData Award. The award is made annually and is given to encourage excellence in cartographic design, innovation and exciting use of OS OpenData.

OS OpenData offers a wide range of digital map products that you can freely view or download, for use in both personal and commercial applications.

Entries were considered by a panel of judges from Ordnance Survey and were judged on their original and inventive use of OS OpenData, suitability of the mapping for the declared purpose and the overall cartographic quality and design.
The award trophy was presented by Vanessa Lawrence CB, Director General and Chief Executive of Ordnance Survey, – along with the certificate and prize donated by GeoVation– to the winning entrant, Ashley Clough of Parallel.

Parallel – LSOA Boundaries

District-level base with Lower-layer Super Output Area (LSOA) boundaries © Parallel 2013

Parallel are a company that creates websites, apps and maps, and its award-winning entry is entitled: ‘OS OpenData backgrounds and overlays for interactive UK healthcare visualisation’. Parallels websites and webapps required a set of mapping backdrops that are optimized for the display of data overlays. The maps had consistent styling throughout all magnifications, work in a range of JAVA script APIs and are based on Ordnance Survey data to ensure consistency of detail across both urban and rural areas. Using Open Street Map (OSM) data was an alternative but the detail provided across the UK, particularly within rural areas, is often incomplete.

SHAPE/Parallel 2013

Parallel’s base mapping in use by one of their customers, SHAPE © SHAPE/Parallel 2013

Using OS OpenData has allowed Parallel to create a set of map-layers from OS VectorMap District, Meridian2, Strategi, OS Terrain 50 and Boundary-Line datasets. These have been projected at Web Mercator, rather than the usual British national grid. The resulting sets of tile-layers are optimized for web delivery, enabling on-the-fly composition with other data sources. Parallel have designed a series of overlays of Lower-layer Super Output Area (LSOA), postcode, ward and Westminster constituency boundaries – as well as data-layers on flood risk from the Environment Agency and air pollution from the Greater London Authority (GLA).


All of the processing has been undertaken using open-source tools including PostGIS database, QGIS editing, TileMill layer creation, MapBox hosting and delivery and Leaflet API web integration.

More information regarding the OS OpenData award and other BCS awards is available on the BCS website


Some of our GeoVation Challenge winners are also using OS OpenData in innovative ways – find out more on our Showcase