Unlocking of government’s mapping and location data to boost economy by £130m a year announcement (2018)


Key parts of Ordnance Survey’s (OS) highly detailed OS MasterMap are being made completely open under the Open Government Licence (OGL), with the remaining data being made freely available up to a threshold of transactions. This work will release GBP 130m pa of economic value.

Geographical scope

United Kingdom

Non-quantified impacts

Making OS MasterMap available in this way is based on addressing the barriers identified through user research with start-ups and small businesses in particular. This research with both current and potential users of OS MasterMap identified four major barriers to its use:

  • Price (complexity and cost)
  • Licensing (complexity and restrictiveness)
  • Ease of use (discoverability, interoperability and mechanism of delivery)
  • Derived data (complexity and restrictiveness)


By addressing these barriers to use, these changes will enable businesses of all sizes to access not only OS’s high-quality data, but to also geospatial data more widely to unlock economic value. In particular:

  • Significantly more geospatial data will be fully open for businesses and developers to use, free and without restriction
  • Start-ups will be able to deliver new products and services with the data using the free threshold
  • Some businesses will not need to pay at all for their use of OS data because of the use of the free threshold
  • New innovations will be possible in the housing market — for example, this data will make it easier for property developers to identify potential development sites that aren’t currently registered
  • New users will be able to understand the pricing structure for the data more easily following the OS changes removing uncertainty around cost of use
  • An improved errors and omissions tool and reporting process, and publication of data in additional formats will further improve the quality of the data and its ease of use

Quantifiable impacts

To further boost the digital economy, the government will work with the Ordnance Survey (OS) and the new Commission, by May 2018, to establish how to open up freely the OS MasterMap data to UK-based small businesses in particular, under an Open Government Licence or through an alternative mechanism, while maintaining the OS’s strategic strengths. The Budget provides GBP 40 million a year over the next two years to support this work.



Study type

Not specified

Economy sector

Education, Water, Infrastructure (Transport), Infrastructure (ICT), Infrastructure (Energy), Health, Tourism, Public Safety and Security, Disaster Risk Management, Retail, Public Sector Local Government, Public Sector Central Government