Memorandum by Defence Intelligence, Intelligence
Collection Strategy and Plans, Ministry of Defence (MOD)|
1. Within the Ministry of Defence (MOD),
Director General Intelligence Collection (DGIC) is charged to
supply Geospatial Information (GI) to the armed forces in support
of operations, exercises and training both in the UK and overseas.
DGIC delegates this responsibility to the Intelligence Collection
Group (ICG), where the Defence Geographic Centre (DGC) has arrangements
for the supply of UK data both directly with the Ordnance Survey
(OS), and through the Pan Government Agreement managed by Communities
and Local Government. Defence Intelligence, Intelligence Collection
Strategy and Plans (DI ICSP) provides the overall policy guidance
for provision of GI to defence on behalf of DGIC, and the former
Director DI ICSP (Brigadier Rigby) represented MOD on the GI Panel.
2. The MOD is therefore a major customer
of the OS, and has a contingent interest in OS data. The MOD requires
access to a reliable national database, which can be used for
a range of "non-commercial' defence and wider governmental
purposes unconstrained by license restrictions, including civil
contingencies and crisis response tasks. There has been a very
close working relationship between the MOD and OS for the last
250 years, with the MOD being the `owner' of the OS before it
became a civilian government body. The MOD believes it is critical
that the UK has a national geographic database which is both current
and accurate, and available in a consistent and standard format
for use by both public and private sectors.
3. Q1. To date the OS has provided an
excellent service, and it is recognised as a world class organisation
in the field. However, in recent times the boundaries applied
to the use of Ordnance Survey's data for public service and national
interest work have become increasingly blurred. MOD has experienced
more stringency and complexity being applied to the release of
data by OS, which has resulted in uncertainty and lack of flexibility
in the use of that data by the MOD.
4. Nevertheless, one significant improvement
for government users has been the setting up of the separate Pan
Government Agreement giving members access to a suite of OS digital
products. This arrangement allows sharing of products and derivatives
between member government departments which has encouraged more
"joined-up government". Whilst this is an excellent
arrangement for those departments which can afford membership,
it has not encouraged membership from those smaller departments
where funding has been an issue.
5. Q2. The OS has introduced a more
stringent dispute resolution procedure which escalates issues
up to ministerial level if required; however this process could
hardly be described as independent. Since the MOD and OS are not
in competition the need for such a process has not arisen in our
6. Q3. The GI Panel has been in place
for two years, and policy guidance has been provided via the UK
GI Strategy, however the level of visibility and guidance provided
to the user community has been disappointing. Indeed, the UK GI
Strategy does not appear to have progressed much beyond the Chorley
Committee several years ago. MOD awaits clarification on the
way ahead following the next GI Panel meeting.
7. Q4. The GI Panel's membership is
heavily biased towards the public sector and representational
organisations (eg AGI, RICS). There is relatively little private
sector involvement in the GI Panel, and disappointingly none at
all from those areas where MOD believes that business interests
in geographic information could be at its highest, eg transport
companies, supermarkets, utilities, construction companies, etc.
The Panel's terms of reference do state that an example should
be set by government bodies, perhaps providing a slim rationale
for the high level of government representation, however MOD considers
there is a lack of balance.
8. Q5. It would not be appropriate for
the single head of an organisation with a strong commercial interest
to deliver advice to the government on all aspects of survey,
mapping and geographic information. Such advice should come from
government specialists or a committee of suitably qualified government
9. Q6. The ending of the NIMSA will
have a significant impact on OS, however this has not happened
suddenly, and OS have used the time to undertake consultation
with their major customers and seek views on alternative measures
to reduce their costs whilst continuing a service. However it
is clear that the OS will not be able to finance all of their
previous activities and hence will need to change their business
practices. This will inevitably result in reduced maintenance
of the national geographic database unless a new source of funds
is identified (or the government could reduce the annual dividend
that OS are mandated to deliver).
10. Q7. The ending of NIMSA will impact
the currency of the rural database used to generate mapping. It
has been stated by the OS that they will attempt to find a more
automated and hence cheaper way of reviewing and revising the
rural and mountains and moor land areas and that the current date
ranges of five and 10 years respectively for retaining currency
of that data will be affected as little as possible. This intent
has not as yet been proven.
11. [ *** ]
12. Q8. Not applicable as MOD is not
a local authority. However MOD was particularly pleased to hear
that the Mapping for Emergencies service was to be continued and
funded by OS for the future. It is however expected that prices
will rise on all products.
13. Q9. The license costs imposed by
the OS are particularly high and where data is not covered by
the advantageous Pan Government Agreement, public bodies are paying
very high prices or even finding the data to be unaffordable.
Thus some government users are being denied access to this particularly
14. MOD believes the problem here comes
back to the boundaries issue. Perhaps it is time for OS to split
in two to have a government funded national geographic database
capability and a separate commercial arm which exploits that data,
with the same licence conditions as applied to any other commercial
user. As the MOD is not a commercial competitor it has not been
affected by this aspect of the OS role.
15. MOD believes that the important needs
of Government need be fully understood in the debate about the
future of the OS and its national geographic database.