Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum from Steven Brandwood, Improvement and Development Agency (OS 19)


  Firstly we would like to thank the Urban Affairs Sub-Committee for this opportunity to provide evidence for the Inquiry in to Ordnance Survey.

  As the co-ordinating body for the Local Government/Ordnance Survey Service Level Agreement (SLA) and the facilitator of the Local Authority Ordnance Survey Committee (LAOSC), the Improvement and Development Agency for Local Government (IDeA) have been asked by the Chair of LAOSC—Cliff Nicklin of Cambridgeshire Police Authority—to reply to your request for evidence for the Urban Affairs Sub-Committee. This evidence has been provided with the support of the Local Government membership of LAOSC, which represents Local Governments' interests in the relationship with Ordnance Survey. LAOSC membership consists of both representatives from all categories of participants to the Service Level Agreement (Local Authorities, Police Authorities, Fire Authorities, National Park Authorities, Parish and Community Councils and Joint Bodies); and individual officers who are specialists in specific topic related issues. LAOSC is the only remaining Ordnance Survey Consultative Committee.


  The remit of Ordnance Survey has developed in recent years from that of a publicly financed provider of a national mapping service, to that of a more commercially focused organisation which endeavours to cover it's costs and to make a percentage profit margin.

  This change in role to a part private, part public sector business requires Ordnance Survey to relate to its customers in more flexible approaches. The relationship with Local Government has made significant progress with the introduction of the Service Level Agreement (SLA) for the provision of Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping, however, as Local Government evolves under it's modernising agenda, it is appropriate that Ordnance Survey re-examines this relationship to take account of the broader requirements of its Local Government customers.


  For Local Government, the price of Ordnance Survey products for internal business use, which covers use for planning appeals, and for "commercial publications", which covers the production of guidebooks, is very attractive considering the high quality of the products.

  The SLA, which provides a range of digital products to Local Government, represents significant savings for Local Government and Ordnance Survey. Local Government receives these savings on commercial list prices through collective negotiation of a "global figure", based on product usage, which is apportioned by Local Government financial advisors between individual participating organisations. Customer feedback is collected by IDeA and driven through LAOSC and the SLA Review Group, this provides Ordnance Survey with a single point of contact when dealing with its 600 plus Local Government customers. This provides Ordnance Survey with a simplified and efficient mechanism to deal with this customer base.

  The SLA provides a stable base where Local Government can budget year on year for Ordnance Survey Data and Ordnance Survey has a guaranteed income from Local Government. There is however scope for the SLA, which has been in place for nearly 10 years, to be developed further. Over this 10 year period, the SLA has developed to a 200 page document, which each of the participating organisations are required to understand, this requires substantial support from both the IDeA and Ordnance Survey which in turn requires resource to maintain.

  The question then, is either: how can the SLA can be made simpler, or how can more support be provided to participants to ensure that the maximum use of Ordnance Survey products.


  A single copyright licence for Local Government is included in the SLA. This licence provides for use of Ordnance Survey products for Local Government internal business use which would have previously required Ordnance Survey to enter into hundreds of individual licences. This standard licence allows for data to be shared between participants and other licensed bodies, including provisions for access to mapping for the Ramblers' Association to assist with Public Rights of Way delimitation. This allows for the use of mapping for planning appeals and election purposes between Local Government and other Government Departments. The licence also covers each participant to use Ordnance Survey data on an unlimited basis on any number of desktop or server computers, which has been the real advantage of this SLA licence. Indeed the take up of Ordnance Survey digital data increased from under 5 per cent of Local Government participants in year one of the SLA to 95 per cent by the end of the second year due to the ease of a single licence and SLA.

  With the production of the new Ordnance Survey "MasterMap", licensing of Ordnance Survey data will change to an individual licence for each data set obtained. This would be inappropriate in the Local Government environment, where we have benefited from the ability to use the data under a single licence.

  The question will be how to maintain the concept of a single, centrally negotiated licence for Local Government in the new MasterMap environment.


  Local Government is very supportive of the Ordnance Survey move to structured Ordnance Survey data through the Digital National Framework and has already put in arrangements to enable Local Authorities to access the MasterMap data from day one of release one.

  Ordnance Survey's model of a mapping based framework with many referenced layers of information being provided by other organisations is an attractive one for Local Government. Ownership and maintenance of these layers does not necessarily have to lie with Ordnance Survey as there are opportunities for Ordnance Survey to enter into joint ownership arrangements for application datasets.

  This model will enable many public sector bodies and private sector organisations to publish information through Ordnance Survey, which will support both the modernisation process within government, and the Geographic Industry at large.

  For Local Government, this is key. Local Authorities have invested substantial sums to create a National Land and Property Gazetteer, a definitive index of addresses for the UK, to enable joined up service delivery across all tiers of Government. We look forward to agreement with Ordnance Survey with regard to the licensing of this data, where Ordnance Survey provide co-ordinate information and Local Authorities provide the legal address. We would also welcome the opportunity of providing a layer of addresses for the Digital National Framework. Indeed, further cost savings could be made by Ordnance Survey, if Local Government were, as part of this process, enabled to maintain the co-ordinate information.

  The introduction of MasterMap, although welcomed, will have cost implications for Local Authorities in updating Geographic Information Systems (GIS), improving network capability, recapturing data and implementing complex information management processes. Local Government has not been provided with any "sector specific" arrangements for MasterMap and it is felt that the current arrangements for on-line delivery of data, which has been designed for the smaller commercial user, will prove to be inappropriate for Local Government.

  Unfortunately, this lack of early information and sector specific treatment will cause Local Government problems in other areas. In particular, Ordnance Survey's initiative to correct Positional Accuracy is likely to have an impact on Local Government of around £200 million to cover amendments to data already collected by authorities against the Land Line data set. Special considerations for Local Government could reduce this figure substantially.

  The Ordnance Survey staff who manage the relationship with Local Government work hard to address these issues, however it is felt that this is an under resourced area.


  The boundaries of Ordnance Survey's activities need to be well defined and it could be argued that Ordnance Survey should restrict its activity to its core cartographic role, with other organisations maintaining and providing additional layers of information.

  The relationship between Ordnance Survey and Local Government is not purely a supplier/customer relationship and would fit this model well. Local Government is the creator of geographic information through various statutory functions. Local Government looks forward to the opportunity the Modernising Government Agenda brings in moving from this buy/sell relationship to partnership arrangements where Local Government is a key data provider. It is important that for this relationship to work, that the efforts of the data creator are fairly recognised through royalty payments and to this end are seeking agreement with Ordnance Survey on the licensing of Local Government Information.

  This model will enable many public sector bodies and private sector organisations to publish information through Ordnance Survey, which will support both the modernisation process within government, and the Geographic Industry at large.

  A partnership approach would provide a more flexible framework for cost negotiations between the two parties. Currently, cost are negotiated transaction by transaction basis, ie the Service Level Agreement fee is based on usage of a number of identified products and Ordnance Survey are charged for access to some Local Government datasets. A move to this partnership model would enable a block payment, similar to the National Interest Mapping Service Agreement (NIMSA), from Local Government to cover the cost of Ordnance Survey base data, which has already recognised the data creators input into the data. This would also enable discussions with regard to off setting the cost of implementing the new Ordnance Survey data, which will have a major impact on Local Government.

  We are keen that Local Government, and indeed the whole of the public sector and utility companies, are treated as unique customers rather than grouped with standard commercial users and feel that the Partnership framework suggested would provide for this. We are also keen to ensure that standard licensing terms are continued to support the maximum usage of Ordnance Survey data.

  Finally, we hope that our comments are useful for the Committee, if you require any additional or supporting information, please feel free to contact IDeA on the above address. We look forward to clarifying any of the above with and would welcome the opportunity of speaking with the Committee directly.

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