Memorandum by Institution of Civil Engineering
Surveyors (OS 05)
The Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors
(ICES) is pleased to present evidence to the inquiry into certain
matters relating to the Ordnance Survey. The ICES supports, encourages
and regulates the professional aspirations of Commercial Managers
and Geospatial Engineers working within the civil engineering
sector and to increase the value of their services to the public.
These surveyors have developed a distinctive expertise in and
understanding of the special surveying requirements of the civil
engineering industry. The ICES has an international membership
though most are based within the UK, indeed, some members are
within the workforce of the Ordnance Survey. The ICES was formed
Geospatial Engineers in particular make heavy
use of Ordnance Survey products and data and are therefore well
placed as customers to provide feedback. In recent years, very
few civil engineering projects do not have an OS spatial and height
reference. It is recognised throughout the profession that there
have been significant improvements in data supply in just the
last few years, largely through the wider availability of new
technology and information transfer.
Much of the current inquiry areas are not generally
covered by the Civil Engineering sector, however addressing this
inquiry's terms of reference, the ICES comments are as follows:
Ordnance Surveys' pricing structure in relation
to copyright charging, the current pricing models effect on planning
appeals, licence fees for guide books, the cost of updating and
maintaining databases, the effect of new technology on costs.
Taking the last point first, the availability
of much freely available map data from the web has a positive
effect in encouraging even wider use of OS products and the ICES
would encourage further data be openly accessed. The exchange
of spatial data within the profession, the industry and within
individual projects becomes far more usable and understandable
if it is to a common reference. While we would all want low cost
or freely available data, it is widely understood that Government
policy is that the OS has to be largely self-financing. The end
users of geospatial data in construction and civil engineering
have harnessed new technology to a high degree; any pricing structure
that simplifies the process however can only encourage an even
Much database information currently held is referenced
to Ordnance Datum, until recently this was mainly derived from
the established Bench Mark network which is no longer being maintained.
An area of criticism is that this data, with many BMs no longer
existing, is still being sold by the Ordnance Survey with no acceptance
of responsibility. We feel this is an unfair practice, the information
should be provided free. Broadly similar comments could also relate
to National Grid information, though this probably falls outside
the terms of reference on this Enquiry.
The other points are areas where our breadth
of expertise at present precludes us from making specific comments
other than the general view given above.
The provision of maps for electioneering,
the funding for this, and the Data Protection implications.
Again these are areas largely outside our usual
field of activity, the general comments above would apply.
Although the scope of this inquiry is fairly
narrow for the civil engineering sector, the Institution would
be happy to provide further relevant evidence if called. Furthermore,
much of the feedback we received from members indicates that there
are other more technical areas of the Ordnance Survey's remit
that we would care to comment and make suggestions upon. Should
the wider aspects of the Ordnance Survey be examined in future,
the ICES would be pleased to provide evidence.