Explore OpenStreetMap in ArcGIS

Explore OpenStreetMap in ArcGIS

OpenStreetMap is one of the biggest collaborative mapping projects out there. A community of mapping enthusiasts have helped to contribute over 4 billion points of information since its initial creation in 2004. OpenStreetMap has been in the ArcGIS Platform as a tiled basemap for a while, but that’s not the only way you can use it .

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Accessing OS Open Zoomstack Vector Tiles in ArcGIS

Accessing OS Open Zoomstack Vector Tiles in ArcGIS

Building multiscale basemaps can be very challenging when you have to integrate different datasets into a consistent map base. OS have started an Open Zoomstack trial to explore ways to make this easier. One of the options available is a vector tile service and a set of styling options to accompany this. Read on to discover how to make use of this tile service in ArcGIS

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Updated imagery you say….

Updated imagery you say….

We have two exciting announcements about World Imagery services. In the next month, we will be receiving a UK wide update to the Imagery and Imagery with Labels basemaps. This is in addition to the new World Imagery (Clarity) service. Read on to find out what’s changed and for more details on the World Imagery (Clarity) service.

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Vector Tiles Part 1 - Creation

Vector Tiles Part 1 - Creation

Vector tiles contain vector representations of data across a range of scales. Unlike raster tiles, they can adapt to the resolution of their display device and even be restyled for multiple uses. With ArcGIS Pro 1.4 users can now also publish their data as vector tiles using local projections such as British National Grid. In this first of two posts, I'll take you through the steps required to publish your own vector tiles using a local projection.

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The science behind our Coastal Views map

The science behind our Coastal Views map

When you're at the coast and gaze off into the horizon, do you know which countries are directly across the sea from you? I recently tried to answer this question by creating a map that went on to be featured on The Telegraph, Mail Online, BBC News and, more recently, Esri's Maps We Love gallery. 

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Living Atlas of the World Site Update

Living Atlas of the World Site Update

The Living Atlas of the World is the foremost collection of global geographic information and is part of the ArcGIS Platform. You can explore maps and data from Esri and thousands of other organisations, then combine them with your own data to create new maps and applications. The latest update to the website has made browsing this content easier than ever before.

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US election 2016: battle of the maps

As America prepares to elect its 45th president, many media agencies are opting to use cartograms instead of traditional maps. Want to know why? As well as looking at the general benifts of using cartograms I've also looked at the strengths and weaknesses of different types.

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Esri UK Open Data Portal Update

You might have noticed the ESRI UK Open Data Portal had a little make-over recently. If this your first time hearing about our Esri UK Open Data Portal site, I urge you to have a look around, you might find something you like! A new Education theme has been added and the site includes some beta features of ArcGIS Open Data.
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Working with OS MasterMap Water Layer in the ArcGIS Platform

Ordnance Survey have released OS MasterMap Water Network, a new OS MasterMap layer. It provides the flow, centre line geometry and height of all rivers, streams, lakes, lochs and canals across Great Britain. The layer is a structured link/node representation of all connected watercourses including the underground network (inferred based on entry and exit points). This article takes you through loading (Productivity Suite is not required), merging, de-duplicating and creating a geometric water network.
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The Esri UK Open Data site is here and here’s how to set up your own

Have you seen ArcGIS Open Data, which you can set up free from your ArcGIS Online Organization Subscription? This article will give you a broad introduction into what ArcGIS Open Data is, how you can activate it and show you examples of Open Data Portals already available for you to use.
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Do you want LocatorHub to find only locations that receive mail from AddressBase Plus or Premium?

The AddressBase Plus and AddressBase Premium datasets contain a field named Postal_Address. The definition of this field is being changed by the Ordnance Survey to better meet customer requirements. This change should be just what you need if you have ever wanted to search only for locations that receive mail.
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INSPIRE: Don’t panic…a first time guide

For about a year now, I have been involved in several projects concerning INSPIRE, and no matter how one looks at it, INSPIRE is a daunting proposition; and it becomes more so as one gets deeper into the legislation governing it, the myriad of rules describing and moulding it, and the even greater number of standards in which it is based. The experience truly resulted on some major headaches that could have been avoided if only I would have found a guide to put INSPIRE into perspective. So, I decided to do just that; write a very high-level guide on INSPIRE that would serve as an introduction for the uninitiated, and without further ado, I present to you…

INSPIRE = Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community.

What it is: A directive (2007/2/EC) of the European Parliament and Council to establish INSPIRE, a European-wide Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI), specifying that Member States must:

1)      make available in a consistent format all the spatial datasets which are specified in ANNEXES I, II, and III of the directive. Think of it as if every member state is building Lego blocks; they all have to fit together and have the same specified dimensions.

2)      create web services for accessing these datasets.

We need it: “… to support the European Community environmental policies, and policies or activities which may have an impact on the environment.”

Purpose: Be able to search, find, share and combine these datasets, by creating an SDI that will enable the sharing of environmental spatial information among public sector organisations and better facilitate public access to spatial information across Member States.

When (EU): Came into effect in on the 15th of May, 2007.

When (UK): Transposed into UK Law on the 31st of December, 2009.

What should it end up being: A network of interoperable (they can all talk and exchange information with each other) SDIs created and maintained by Member States through their agencies.

An INSPIRE compliant SDI should: Conform to the five sets of Implementing Rules (IR) established by the EU Commission to ensure that the SDIs of Member States are compatible and usable in a community context that goes beyond national boundaries:

  1. Metadata (data about data): To make sure it conforms with INSPIRE standards, quality and validity of data; that it includes the conditions for accessing and using information, including limitations on use and the reasons for the limitations, as well as listing the authority that establishes, manages, maintains and distributes the data.
  2. Data Specifications: To ensure it contains complete and current metadata and that it meets INSPIRE interoperability standards.
  3. Network Services: To ensure that it includes
    1. Discovery service, for searching and discovering metadata (a search service to find those metadata documents, which serve the same function as library cards; to search for a certain book you first search and “discover” its library card to find anything you need about the book before you even borrow or acquire it.)
    2. View service, for viewing data, overlaying layers, display legends and relevant metadata. So once one discovers things one would probably want to “see” them.
    3. Download service, for downloading all or part of a dataset, or provide direct access to the data. Once one “sees” what one needs, one would download it for use; either the whole thing or particular sections that one would specify in various ways.
    4. Transform service, for converting datasets and services to meet interoperability standards. So if the data is in a different geometry than one’s own data, one would be able to transform it so that it matches with said data.
    5. Invocation service, any additional service to run the above services. This service drives all of the above.
  4. Data and Service Sharing: To ensure the availability of a Community level geoportal (a website dedicated to searching, displaying, and downloading geographic data), and that datasets and services connect to the Community level geoportal; that the data is freely available to the public, with the exception were fees, security, privacy or copyright forbid it; that datasets and services are available to public authorities within and across Member States.
  5. Monitoring and Reporting: To make sure everything is working nicely and as it should, given the importance of the information that is being shared, and to make sure that the system keeps on evolving to be useful in the future, monitoring and reporting have to cover the four main aspects of the directive: metadata, spatial datasets and services, network services, and data sharing.
    1. Monitoring follows a quantitative (how much) approach done on a yearly basis.
    2. Reporting follows a more qualitative (how good) approach done every three years.

Member States

There are 27 of them:

















Czech Republic







United Kingdom






Data Specifications

The spatial data sets specified by INSPIRE address 34 themes which are subdivided into three annexes:

Annex I

Annex II

Annex III

Coordinate reference systems


Statistical Units

Geographical grid systems

Land Cover


Geographical names



Administrative units


Land use



Human health and safety

Cadastral parcels


Utility and governmental services

Transport networks


Environmental monitoring facilities



Production and industrial facilities

Protected sites


Agriculture and aquaculture facilities



Population distribution and demography



Area management/restriction/regulation zones & reporting units



Natural risk zones



Atmospheric conditions



Meteorological geographical features



Oceanographic geographical features



Sea regions



Habitats and biotopes



Bio-geographical regions



Species distribution



Energy resources



Mineral resources



Statistical Units





INSPIRE Roadmap for Implementation

Milestone date



Implementation of provisions for monitoring and reporting


Metadata available for spatial data sets and services corresponding to Annex I and II


Member States shall provide the Discovery and View Services with initial operating capability


The EC establishes and runs a geo-portal at Community level


Implementation of Regulation as regards the access to spatial data sets and services of the Member States by Community institutions and bodies under harmonised conditions for new arrangements


Discovery and view services operational


Member States shall provide the Download Services with initial operating capability


Member States shall provide the Transformation Services with initial operating capability


Implementation of Commission Regulation (EU) No 1089/2010 of 23 November 2010 implementing Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards interoperability of spatial data sets and services for Newly collected and extensively restructured Annex I spatial data sets available


Download services operational


Transformation services operational


Implementation of Commission Regulation (EU) No 102/2011 of 4 February 2011 amending Regulation (EU) No 1089/2010 implementing Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards interoperability of spatial data sets and services for newly collected and extensively restructured Annex I spatial data sets


Implementation of Regulation as regards the access to spatial data sets and services of the Member States by Community institutions and bodies under harmonised conditions for existing arrangements


Metadata available for spatial data corresponding to Annex III

October 20153

Newly collected and extensively restructured Annex II and III spatial data sets available


Implementation of Commission Regulation (EU) No 1089/2010 of 23 November 2010 implementing Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards interoperability of spatial data sets and services for other Annex I spatial data sets still in use at the date of adoption


Implementation of Commission Regulation (EU) No 102/2011 of 4 February 2011 amending Regulation (EU) No 1089/2010 implementing Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards interoperability of spatial data sets and services for other Annex I spatial data sets still in use at the date of adoption

October 20203

Other Annex II and III spatial data sets available in accordance with IRs for Annex II and III


For additional information on all things INSPIRE, please visit the INSPIRE website. But be ready to be flabbergasted by loads of official, techie, and complex terminology and jargon. This is European Policy after all, so it is in the nature of the beast.

In all fairness, there are plenty of material out there (web) created by individuals and organisations to help understand INSPIRE in a way that won’t create panic and chaos. Some links include:

The AGI: http://www.agi.org.uk/inspire-directive/

UK Location: http://location.defra.gov.uk/inspire/

B-Inspired: http://www.b-inspired.ie/3-requirements.asp

Esri Inc: http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis/arcgis-for-inspire/what-is-inspire.html


Happy INSPIREd reading.

Understanding and working with Open Data

A few weeks ago I attended my first ever AGI GeoCommunity Event held at the EMCC, Nottingham University.

During this extremely enjoyable event I presented some of the work that I’ve recently been involved in relating to Open Data. The paper titled “Methods for processing, analysing and visualising Open Data within a Geographic Information System”.

This paper is a reasonably practical outline for anyone interested in working with or using Open Data.

The abstract for the session was as follows:

With the continued trend of making public data openly available from numerous sites such as data.gov.uk and the London Datastore there is an opportunity of leveraging this data to answer spatial related queries and visualise this data geographically.

This presentation will outline some suggested methods, detailing the tools and analysis required, for taking data from its raw form and how they can be processed and combined with geographic datasets for use in GIS applications. The methodology will suggest ways to find data of interest, how to download, manipulate and prepare it for use in a GIS, combine it with geographic data such as the Ordnance Survey Boundary-Line™ Data or the Office for National Statistics Census Areas and then analyse the data. The presentation will then describe different options for disseminating this information whether the end user is a power, web or mobile user.

Examples of the wealth of Open Data currently available and how they can be used in the real world to benefit society will be shown. Additionally, the presentation will discuss how to combine and use Open Data with readymade base mapping but also create your own bespoke base using the Ordnance Survey Open data products following careful consideration of cartography and visualisation techniques.

The presentation can be found here and the accompanying paper here

OSTN02 supported in ArcGIS desktop

Are you using GPS captured data within ArcGIS desktop?

Ever wanted a more accurate transformation for your GPS captured data when displayed on a BNG basemap?

Making this possible has been a personal challenge for myself and a number of colleagues for sometime as over the past 12 months we have seen an increasing number of customers requesting this capability.

I am happy to announce, after working in collaboration with DGC and Ordnance Survey, Esri UK have released OSTN02 support within ArcGIS desktop.   For those of you not familiar with the intricacies of transformations in the UK, OSTN02 is a very accurate grid based transformation between British National Grid and WGS84 (Lat/Long). It can be used when collecting data from a GPS that is to be stored in a British National Grid feature class or for transforming British National Grid data to WGS84.

Aware that the Defence Geographic Centre (DGC) had previously carried out some work in this area I approached them to see if they were willing to share the transformation with the rest of the GIS user community.  DGC were happy for this to happen and Ordnance Survey have provided quality assurance, ensuring the transformation works as expected.

For those that are interested, the OSTN02 NTv2 transformation file can be downloaded from myEsriUK. You will also find a full set of instructions on how to configure the files at this location.  We have long supported the transformation in ArcPAD and you can download the relevant files for ArcPAD from this location too.

Thanks to DGC and Ordnance Survey for helping to make this happen.  I hope you are able to make use of the new transformation in your work. 

NB: In ArcGIS desktop the OSTN02 NTv2 transformation is called OSGB_1936_To_WGS_1984_7