Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100
TUESDAY 15 JANUARY 2002
100. So how are you going to make it cheaper?
(Ms Lawrence) You have mentioned English Nature and
we have answered how English Nature would be dealt with. Let us
take a small representational group which has a particular interest.
We believe that our pay-as-you-use system really does help them
very considerably, and also this business use copying licence
helps them considerably. It is because of those small groups and
for education that we feel that the current consultation paper
out from HMSO, which would make it only possible for one price
to fit everybody, would be extremely difficult for us to consider.
101. I just wanted to ask you what effect you
think there will be if you have in future a change of status in
relation to your access to information, some of which is really
of national importance. Will there be any real pressure? Will
there be any conflict of interest?
(Ms Lawrence) In our current work on changing to a
Government-owned PLC we have not found anything that would stop
us having access to information. We will continue to be here very
much in the nation's interest.
102. But if you were to change your status would
there by a conflict of interest?
(Ms Lawrence) I do not believe there would be, not
with Government owning 100 per cent of the shares.
103. So what you are proposing is a very particular
kind of change which would still remain in the hands of the Government?
(Ms Lawrence) The whole Board feels that we are here
very much in the nation's interests. We are happy with 100 per
cent ownership if that is what is proposed and we believe we will
be able to function very well with that status, yes.
104. Do you think there is a need to clarify
the boundaries of your work? You obviously cannot provide all
the geographical information work, but you are a dominant force.
There is some criticism that you are using your might, if you
like, to compete perhaps unfairly with some of your licence partners.
Do you feel there is a need to re-define your remit?
(Ms Lawrence) When OS MasterMap, which under its previous
name was called the Digital National Framework, was first defined,
that was in a seminal consultation paper but also it was presented
to the whole industry back in March 2000, I believe. It very clearly
set out the layers that were being considered in which things
like imagery and height were discussed. Many people have suggested
to us that there are things that absolutely should be collected
in the nation's interest, consistent and maintained. They were
set out in that consultation paper of March 2000. Some of these
layers for OS MasterMap will be collected with partners, such
as our imagery layer. Others we intend to do ourselves. We have
stated exactly where those boundaries are. The very first thing
which I am very proud of is that we set out to the industry that
we would completely recreate the database before the end of 2001.
Many people said that would take us five to six years to do what
we set out in November 2000. We completed it on time and to budget.
Now we are building the layers. I think there were some partners
who might have considered in 2000 that we had not got a hope of
completing things and so as a result they saw themselves in a
different light. It has been a surprise to much of the industry
that we launched with a full understanding of not only how we
were going to deliver the data, how the customer would receive
it, but also we gave full national coverage with 433 million TOIDS
being created in this country on time and to budget, which has
led some people to have these kinds of discussions.
Mrs Dunwoody: I do not like the idea of 433
million TOIDS. I think they will take us over.
105. Who decides what products you provide as
a monopoly and where you should be competing in the private sector?
(Ms Lawrence) As I mentioned earlier, I do not think
we are a monopoly.
106. In anything?
(Ms Lawrence) You talk about products but really it
comes down to data. In the future everything will come from the
OS MasterMap. At the moment we have several databases which we
update but in future everything will come from the OS MasterMap.
There are products that we have talked about, such as Explorer
and Landranger maps, and I believe you saw this morning how they
would be produced in the future. In the majority of cases people
take our raw data and then it is our partners who turn it into
products rather than us turning it into products. We very much
believe that we are the master data and then other people build
software applications on top of it to make sure it is appropriate
for a particular market place. That is how we intend to work.
We are aware that in the past, for example, when I was a customer,
it did not always feel like that but we are addressing those issues
and we address them case by case.
107. Do you feel there is a need for more openness
in the geographical information market?
(Ms Lawrence) Could I ask you to express what you
mean by "openness"?
108. It has been said, again back to your dominant
position, that OS is a regular user, supplier and competitor.
(Ms Lawrence) The geographical information industry
is quite small. Everybody knows each other. We welcome new people
joining the industry. It is always quite a surprise when there
are new people who have come along to the industry exhibition
which is held every autumn. Everyone welcomes new people joining
and we are extremely welcoming of new partners. Hence we have
set up our new partner programme which allows two things to happen.
First of all, certainly when I was a customer, if there were data
sets that I wanted to use perhaps to demonstrate to somebody else
the benefits of using geographic information, it was sometimes
difficult to get hold of those databases from Ordnance Survey.
As a result of our developer programme now anyone from yourself
to any pensioner to any very large multinational organisation
can pay £500 per year in order to have access to £40,000
worth of our data if they want to use it just to develop their
idea on. We believe that will give greater openness than ever
before. Our Partner Programme absolutely makes sure that it is
more advantageous than ever before to partner with us.
109. So a company that expressed concern that
it was in competition with you as your licensee would be wrong?
(Ms Lawrence) There may be a particular instance but
I am not awareobviously there are competitors in the paper
mapping world. In certain small scales and mid scales modelling
there have been competitors.
(Mr Erskine) Certainly in the route planning or road
map market we have been established for a long time but there
are licensed partners of ours who then go on to produce products
which compete in the same space. They are not exactly the same
products but they do compete in the same space. If you take road
maps and routing as an example, where we have several competitors,
we have a fairly equal share of the market.
110. So you do not think there is any cause
(Mr Erskine) In that specific example, we have always
been in that market place. There is always the danger of course
that we reduce the size of our portfolio so much that it makes
it very difficult to operate. When we have licensed partners who
know that we already produce mapping in that particular environment
they take that data and work with us, and so we are not particularly
dominant in that market. In fact we have a very equal share with
(Ms Lawrence) We have very much said on the digital
side that we are here to create the base data from which other
people will create their applications. In order to deliver services
to a particular organisation it is necessary to have hardware
and software plus data. You cannot just take our data and believe
you will get the analysis capability. You have to have the software
and the hardware tools to do that.
111. You are not accepting that the base data
which is so essential is actually a product?
(Ms Lawrence) Our base layers and OS MasterMap are
not a product, I do not think. They are very much the base from
which everyone else will derive benefit, and certainly that is
how most people view them.
112. What about the division of responsibility
between yourselves, HM Land Registry, the Office of National Statistics?
(Ms Lawrence) We have an extremely good relationship
with all of those at all levels of business. They are large customers
of ours, but we also have members of our staff who are on their
data committees and some of their staff are collaboratively working
with us on our data committees to ensure that we are joining up
our information as best we can and also that we are working together
to ensure that we are all moving with each other's strategies.
113. Could you be combined with the Land Registry?
(Ms Lawrence) In some countries that has been the
case but the Quinquennial Review of the Land Registry, which I
believe was published right at the end of 2001, has recommended
that that does not happen. It was looked at within our Quinquennial
Review and I do not believe there was any recommendation. From
my point of view I have worked in many different countries and
there have been cases where you have got these humongous departments
which are dealing with all the land issues, but frankly it is
about good communication and good collaboration. It has nothing
to do with combining organisations. We effectively do different
things but it is important that we join up geography and as a
result that joins up government as well.
114. DTLR told us that there were six key targets
for you to achieve between 2000 and 2002. How many of those key
targets will you achieve?
(Ms Lawrence) We have annual performance measures
every year. We met our target between 2000 and 2001 and we fully
expect to meet them between 2001 and 2002. Our year end is the
31 March and we meet as a Board every week. We monitor these at
least once a month if not more if there is any cause for concern.
115. So the carbon emissions from this building
are going to be down by 1 per cent; is that right?
(Ms Lawrence) The answer is yes, but I should like
David to give you a little bit more information on our new combined
heating and power system.
(Mr Willey) We have invested very significantly in
combined heat and power units which will greatly improve the energy
efficiency of the building. This is a 1960s building. It is not
built to be desperately energy efficient but we think we are making
a very significant contribution through that.
116. On the minor points, what is happening
about laminated maps? Have they got a future?
(Mr Erskine) There are a number of issues on laminated
maps. We have looked at different types of laminated maps. We
have partners who already take Ordnance Survey maps and laminate
them for you. We have looked at the potential to print on waterproof
paper and different types of laminated surface. When we do market
research we do not get an awful lot of feedback from people who
say the durability of the mapping is their biggest concern. It
is very much the content of the mapping that they are concerned
with. We will continue to look at a wide range of technical changes
to any of our mapping. At the moment we do not produce that but
it is something that we will always consider in the future.
117. You are abandoning the Outdoor Leisure
maps; is that right?
(Mr Erskine) We are not abandoning the Outdoor Leisure
maps. We are re-branding the Outdoor Leisure and Explorer maps
together but it will not impact on people who want to buy the
same quality of mapping as they currently get with Outdoor Leisure.
118. But the one with the yellow cover at the
moment tends to cover twice or sometimes three times the area
that the Explorer map covers.
(Mr Erskine) My understanding is that the sheet coverage
areas will not change but I can make sure that that is the situation
and let you know.
119. Are you doing as much now for the military
as you used to do?
(Ms Lawrence) The Ministry of Defence is a large customer
of ours. We continue to provide them with overprinted paper mapping.
We work with them at their request as necessary
Chairman: On that note can I thank you
very much for answering all our questions and again I reiterate
that we thank you very much for your hospitality.