Memorandum by National Joint Utilities
Group (OS 20)
The primary use of Ordnance Survey mapping products
amongst the utilities is its use as background mapping for the
location of utilities' assets relative to OS features and therefore
providing information for safe excavation for both the owning
utility and third parties undertaking work which may interfere
with buried assets.
The NJUG/OS copyright agreement charges a copyright
fee to NJUG members who are party to the agreement for the use
of the background mapping in connection with their business as
a utility allowing the exchange of location data between contractors
and other utility undertakers. At present the agreement does not
include the purchase, maintenance or leasing of the mapping data.
NJUG wish to draw the attention of the Urban
Affairs Sub-committee to the following concerns over the future
charging mechanisms under consideration by Ordnance Survey and
its effect on the utilities.
The introduction of Ordnance Survey's new digital
mapping system MasterMap, under the leasing and copyright pricing
model proposed will reduce the flexibility currently enjoyed under
the present arrangements and represent a considerable price increase
to utilities. It is estimated that cost increases of between 25
per cent and 200 per cent may be incurred depending on how data
is currently purchased and maintained. This is currently under
discussion with Ordnance Survey.
There are also considerable internal costs to
be considered for a utility changing to the new background mapping
dataset or accommodating accuracy improvements that require adjustment
of the utilities asset data layer to preserve the relative location
accuracy of their plant. These costs need to be considered by
Ordnance Survey when assessing the market and business justification
for the introduction of new products or the use of new technology.
The utilities operate under a commercial and
regulatory framework, and investment decisions are subject to
a rigorous assessment of business need. Price increases as proposed
by Ordnance Survey and the eventual withdrawal of support for
the existing Landline product will be difficult to justify by
the utilities in terms of increased business benefit.
Potentially the introduction of new technology
could facilitate easier exchange of data by utilising a common
background mapping data set maintained to the same standard throughout
the utilities. However unless this can be achieved within a pricing
model that can be justified in terms of the business benefit it
is likely to inhibit the progress of safety improvements and better
methods of information exchange.
The Government has been keen to promote competition
in the utility sector for the overall benefit of the customer.
The effect of high leasing and copyright costs of the mapping
database is to discourage new entrants from entering the utility
market and to encourage the use of different mapping datasets
or alternative means of displaying plant location.
Increased costs either have to be paid for by
improved efficiencies within an already heavily regulated utility
sector or by increased costs to the customer.
NJUG would welcome more transparency of pricing
for Ordnance Survey Service Level Agreements and Collective Agreements.
Pricing models need to be flexible enough for customers to pay
for the use of mapping datasets according to their business requirements
rather than to fund the aspirations of Ordnance Survey. Introduction
of new technology with clear business benefits for utilities are
welcome but the business case for increased costs for the utilities
must take into account the internal costs of migration and be
The prospect of the loss of support for the
current Landline product and the potential cost of MasterMap and
associated migration costs has prompted NJUG members to consider
the use of alternative mapping service providers. Information
will be gathered in 2002 to consider the viability and costs of
such a move.