Digital and technology

Harnessing the power of mapping data

From collecting data to the creation of new products, embracing new technology is helping Ordnance Survey Northern Ireland (OSNI) keep pace with change. OSNI is part of Land & Property Services and is the official provider of high quality, accurate and current geographic mapping data for Northern Ireland to both the public and private sectors.

OSNI’s most detailed map of Northern Ireland is called Fusion. It is an intelligent digital framework where each feature (building, land parcel, road) is a geometric representation of the real world. Fusion contains life cycle information along with a date stamp of when changes are made to the map and there are currently over 12.5 million individual features which make up the Fusion product in the database.

Each feature in the database has a unique identifier known as a “Fusion ID”. This enables users of the data to link other datasets including their own data to the mapping enabling systems to talk to each other and share data where required. The use of Fusion IDs will help increase the collaboration and coordination of government data, ensuring we are always looking at a single authoritative view of land and property information. Fusion enables data to be visualised and analysing data on a map is essential in identifying patterns and clusters. This can help inform where best to locate services, and underpinning strategic policy and decision-making by giving insights into data that cannot be viewed in a database.

The Fusion IDs can also be used to set up triggers and enable notification of changes such as a new buildings being created or demolished. The use of triggers and automatic notifications also has the potential to completely change how we interact with land and property related data across the whole Northern Ireland Civil Service.

Recently, OSNI enhanced the authoritive address dataset for Northern Ireland – known as Pointer – with the inclusion of Fusion IDs. This allow addresses to be connected to the physical footprints of the buildings and land parcels that they are situated within.

The creation of Fusion, represents a step change in the capabilities of OSNI by comparison with the previous dataset. It provides a platform from which we can use emerging technological advances to keep OSNI data more up to date. For example, traditional data capture techniques, such as on the ground field survey, have been enhanced with the capture of data from high resolution aerial photography to keep our current mapping up to date.

Fusion also create opportunities for new and enhanced products. One of the most exciting areas of development is the next generation of three dimensional data. To meet growing customer expectations and applications such as smart cites which demand 3D data and products, OSNI obtained a state of the art Mobile Mapping System (MMS) featuring a laser scanner and a 360-degree camera. OSNI was the first national mapping agency within the UK to invest in this state-of-the-art kit demonstrating their commitment to providing customers with data on an unparalleled level.

OSNI is now exploring how it can use new technology such as the MMS along with innovative software to create a 3D version of buildings from the footprints contained in the current Fusion database.

The ability to visualise buildings to their representative height and then split them into floors, and then divide them again into property spaces within those floors, while keeping the Fusion ID will be a game changer in the future of our mapping.

Digital mapping is now recognised as a critical part of the infrastructure underpinning many public and private sector services. The development of smart cities, the internet of things and linked data are all underpinned with digital mapping. LPS CEO Ian Snowden comments: “OSNI data is used in every aspect of public life helping to improve and underpin public services in Northern Ireland. The development of building level 3D mapping and the ability to utilise that data within LPS will revolutionise the services that we deliver to the public. Harnessing the power of mapping data has the ability to transform the quality of services, drive new innovative products and stimulate the Northern Ireland economy”.

To find out how you can use OSNI data visit:


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