Submission from the Ordnance Survey
1.1 About Ordnance Survey
Ordnance Survey is the provider of definitive
mapping data for England, Scotland and Wales. We benefit businesses,
government organisations and consumers by supplying intelligent
digital information and paper maps based on one of the world's
most detailed geographic reference frameworks.
Ordnance Survey is a non-ministerial government
department and Executive Agency, which since 1999 has operated
as a Trading Fund within the public sector. Our Director General
and Chief Executive is official adviser to the United Kingdom
Government on all aspects of survey, mapping and geographic information.
Ordnance Survey surveys and collects data on
roads, buildings, postal and non-postal addresses, boundaries,
water courses, height and many other aspects of the natural and
man-made landscape of Britain. Although traditionally supplied
to the user as paper maps, this data is now more usually supplied
as digital information, which can be readily analysed, manipulated
and linked to other information. The large-scale digital database
of the surface of Britain is known as the National Geographic
Database (NGD), from which the OS MasterMap®product is produced.
The NGD is kept up to date on a daily basis with up to 5,000 changes
being made to the database each day. It forms a valuable resource
for both private- and public-sector organisations in this country,
and an independent report published in 1999 estimated that Ordnance
Survey mapping underpinned £100 billion of economic activity.
Ordnance Survey has interest in two specific
areas of space exploitation: Global Navigation Satellite Systems
(GNSS) and remote sensing. Ordnance Survey will therefore address
its response in the context of these two topics.
1.2 The use of GPS by Ordnance Survey
Ordnance Survey has been at the forefront in
developing the use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) as a
positioning tool over the last 18 years. The key contribution
of GPS to Ordnance Survey is as a fundamental building block for
our datathrough defining the location reference framework
in Great Britainand as a tool to aid data collection.
The introduction of GPS technology to our 350
field surveyors has resulted in a 40% efficiency gain in their
working practices; we anticipate further improvements in our business
processes with the introduction of GALILEOTM, as a
result of reduced signal acquisition times and greater satellite
Ordnance Survey uses GPS specifically to:
define the 3-D reference framework
for Britain as well as providing an explicit link to European
and global co-ordinate reference systems; and
provide a positioning tool to aid
data capture for both on-the-ground and photogrammetric survey.
1.3 Ordnance Survey GPS services
Ordnance Survey provides a countrywide GPS service
that can be accessed via www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/osnet. OS Net®
provides free access to a facility that enables all GPS users
to post-process GPS signals in order to improve the accuracy of
their raw GPS data and to work seamlessly between Britain's National
Grid and the GPS co-ordinate system. The creation of this service
was initially part funded by the National Interest Mapping Services
Ordnance Survey is also providing the ability
to enhance the accuracy of positions derived from the raw GPS
data that is received from the satellites in real time. Ordnance
Survey runs a service for its own GPS-equipped surveyors that
means that they can just get out of their cars, dial into the
service and receive corrections that enable up to 1-cm level positioning.
This has driven considerable flexibility in working practices
tied into significant efficiency savings. A wide range of government
and commercial applications also require accurate positioning
in real time. So, since April 2006, Ordnance Survey has made the
raw GPS observations from OS Net available to appointed partner
organisations for them to create a range of services for their
When GALILEO is operational OS Net will provide
combined GPS and GALILEO functionality, adding in increased availability,
flexibility and efficiency to high-accuracy GNSS users.
1.4 Use of remote sensing by Ordnance Survey
Ordnance Survey's main use of remote sensing
involves the use of aerial images captured using a photogrammetric-quality
digital camera flown in a fixed-wing aircraft, flying at about
1,500 to 2,000 metres above ground level. These images are used
to update the NGD, from which Ordnance Survey's products are derived
as well as being used to populate the OS MasterMap Imagery Layer.
The resolution of the images used in this process is between 15
cm and 20 cm (ground sample distance), which is much finer than
any commercially available space-borne imagery. Nevertheless,
Ordnance Survey has followed the growth of the high-resolution
satellite sensor industry with interest, and has engaged in several
initiatives to determine how such imagery could be used by a mapping
agency such as us.
Projects undertaken in the Data Collection &
Management and the Research & Innovation departments of Ordnance
Survey have investigated the use of images from satellites, including
Landsat, SPOT and, more recently, IKONOS and QuickBird. These
investigations have shown that the satellite imagery available
to the civilian market at the present time does not provide us
with adequate information to fully update our spatial database
to the required specification. However, we feel that there is
value in continuing our investigations into other uses of remotely
sensed data, especially that of change detection.
When a feature, such as a house or a length of road, changes on
the ground, it is our duty to find this change and capture it
in the NGD. One of our recent research projects investigated change
detection using QuickBird imagery (60-cm resolution, panchromatic
imagery from the satellite operated by Digital Globe® of Longmont,
Colorado). It was found that imagery of this resolution was very
valuable when helping to determine where change had occurredand
what type of change it was. While it was not possible to capture
this change in the database to the required level of accuracy,
the mere knowledge that change has occurred could be of significant
use, and therefore produce substantial savings to us in the deployment
of alternative methods of capture, such as field survey and aerial
photography. Our results have been presented at various international
conferences and in several publications, including an article
in the ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (2006,
vol. 60, pp 212-223).
2. EVIDENCE RELATING
2.1 The impact of current levels of investment
on space-related activities on the UK's international competitiveness
in this sector
The British approach to remote-sensing space
missions in the past has been, in our opinion, quite low key,
while our neighbours see this as an important aspect of their
space programmes (witness France's continuing sponsorship of the
SPOT [Satellite Pour l'Observation de la Terre] programme and
Germany's investment in the TerraSar-X and related radar satellites).
Some encouraging signs of a flourishing satellite industry have
emerged in the UK via Surrey University, in the shape of Surrey
Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL). Until now, the remote sensing
capabilities of the microsatellites developed by SSTL have not
matched our requirements, but this shows some signs of changing.
The TopSat experimental satellite collaboration between SSTL,
QinetiQ®, Infoterra and Rutherford Appleton Laboratories shows
how a remote-sensing system can be built and deployed for a fraction
of the cost of traditional systems such as Landsat and SPOT. The
partial funding of this mission by the British National Space
Centre is to be applauded.
2.2 The benefits and value for money obtained
from participation in the European Space Agency and other international
From a remote sensing point of view, we do not
feel qualified to comment on this issue as we have had very little
experience of remote-sensing data from European programmes.
Current GNSS are operated primarily for defence
purposes. GPS and GLONASS are owned and operated by the United
States and Russian military agencies respectively. Whilst assurances
have been made, especially by the Americans, regarding the continued
availability of these navigation systems, there are no guarantees.
Until this problem is overcome, and the number of GNSS signals
is increased, the growing needs of member states for satellite
positioning and navigation cannot be met.
GALILEO, an initiative of the European Space
Agency (ESA) and the European Commission (EC), has been developed
by the EU for the EU citizen to benefit from. It will have guaranteed
levels of service and the legally binding operational assurances
that are needed for safety of life as well as commercial services.
GALILEO will therefore provide a stable GNSS to support EU directives
and programmes (especially around transport management) and result
in user confidence, which is necessary to stimulate investment
in the development of end-user applications.
The key benefits of GALILEO are:
Greater signal availability, as GALILEO
itself will have more satellites than current GNSS and it can
also be combined with the existing GNSS. This brings huge potential
in environments where line-of-sight signals are restricted at
present, for example, in built-up areas and under tree canopies.
Improved accuracy, as a result of
having two civilian codes, will give better raw stand-alone positional
accuracy than current GNSS.
Improved reliability or service due
to increased redundancy and integrity monitoring.
Wider breadth of services than current
GNSS; that is the Public Regulated Service, the Safety of Life
Service and so on, because GALILEO will be in European civilian
control, designed for civilian, member state and commercial applications,
and operated for the benefit of the European citizen.
Currently knowing the time of day is something
that is ubiquitous for us all; in the future knowing our position
could be just as omnipresent. Ubiquitous knowledge of location
provides major benefits to good governance, business success and
citizen services by, for example:
improving personal safety;
reducing traffic congestion and enabling
innovative transport policy;
faster life-critical response;
reducing distribution costs; and
cheaper offender management.
Significant commercial markets are therefore
expected to develop to support these and other applications, which
GALILEO will underpin. The following provides more details for
The management of traffic and transport systems
features prominently on the government agenda. One of the prospective
positioning tools for the implementation of these initiatives
is undoubtedly GNSS. Using one system only may be seen as too
much of a riska second provides the redundancy and added
availability that would be required. Thus the linking together
of reliable GPS and GALILEO positions with accurate and intelligent
geographic information is seen as crucial to the successful delivery
of these initiatives.
Transport management systems, whether they are
for boat, plane, ship, train, car or people, are already using
GPS for either their primary navigation/tracking system or to
augment traditional systems. A second, independent and quality-assured
system will mean that many further potential applications and
modes of operation are possible.
2.2.2 Emergency services
The US E-911 regulation already requires all
emergency calls to provide positional information to assist the
emergency services in finding the citizen in trouble. Article
26 from the European Commission directive on universal service
and user's rights relating to electronic communications networks
and services (2002/22/EC22/3/2002) introduces a similar
requirement for member states. Although the implementation of
these services has been slow as a result of both technology and
the costs involved, when they are implemented, it is seen that
GALILEO will play a major part in ensuring a reliable and accurate
Navigation of the emergency services using GNSS
tied to geographic information, already used by many UK emergency
services, would become much more reliable with a second GNSS.
This is because, currently, emergency crews often encounter blind
spots whilst relying on GPS alone. Using GNSS expanded by GALILEO
would eliminate many of these blind spots, enabling emergency-service
crews to locate accidents more accurately, quickly and consistently.
2.2.3 Street works
Better co-ordination between utilities, local
authorities and central-government departments in planning and
executing work on the public highway is high on the government
agenda and would result in less digging, less interruption and
less congestion. There are, for example, around 4 million utility
road openings per year in the UK, which cost millions of pounds
in congestion. This issue is addressed in the New Roads and Street
Works Act (1991) and subsequent secondary legislation.
The part-DTI-, part-industry-funded VISTA project
(www.vistadtiproject.org) will investigate the use of global navigation
satellite technology linked to existing asset records to produce
3-D images of utilities' underground assets. GALILEO would provide
the improved positioning and availability on top of what GPS is
giving now. Once these geospatial positions are recorded, the
location and relocation of these assets provides for significant
financial savings as well as reducing the risk of breaking cables
and potential lost business time.
Along with raw positioning capability, users
need a robust geospatial framework such as OS MasterMap to create
and share information, enabling intelligent decision making.
2.3 The maximisation of commercial benefits
and wealth creation from UK space-based technologies through innovation
and knowledge transfer
As mentioned earlier, the transfer of knowledge
from the university sector to the private sector appears to have
been very successful in the case of SSTL. On several occasions,
at recent international conferences, we have heard people praise
SSTL for their low-cost, short-development-cycle microsatellites.
The commercialisation programmes of companies such as QinetiQ
are also showing how technology developed originally for the military
and intelligence sectors can be modified for commercial use. While
Ordnance Survey has not yet availed itself of such technology,
we continue to follow developments and engage with the organisations
involved, in the expectation that at some future date the capability
of the remote-sensing satellites will match our spatial-data-collection
UK's strength in both pure and applied GNSS
research can benefit from the huge potential that exploiting this
capability provides. Our experience in the implementation and
commercialisation of GNSS-based applications provides a strong
background on which to exploit the major expansion predicted in
the GNSS market.
2.4 The delivery of public benefits from the
space-related activities of different government departments (for
example, DEFRA, MoD, DTI, DfT) and the co-ordination of these
It is our feeling that the medium- to long-term
UK Government policy objectives should be the primary driver for
support and funding. It is then possible to explicitly measure
expenditure/support versus benefit across governmentdriving
future space strategy. Key government policy drivers around the
environment, transport/congestion and advancing UK industry are
examples. This will really enable a focus on where the true benefit
The GNSS benefits outlined in section 2.2 are
mostly directed towards government departments. It is thought
that to really take advantage of these benefits, sharing of strategy
and space requirements across government is a necessity.
2.5 Support for space-related research and
the UK skills base
The UK has a small but internationally respected
research skills base, as evidenced by the UK presence at international
conferences on space-related subjects. We would like to see this
continue, and hope that the UK Government sees space-related researchand
especially earth observationas a key science worthy of
58 One of the key challenges to Ordnance Survey is
that of defining where change has happened so that survey effort
can be focused on it. Back