Open data, apps and maps

Open Data

A few weeks ago I blogged about Hampshire’s Rights of Way network, which has been published as an interactive map, and as open data.

The data was released under the OS Open Data Licence, which effectively means you can do what you like with it – including using it to build apps – as long as you acknowledge where you got the data from.


Several developers have done just that, and apps we’re aware of so far include:

  • FixMyPaths (web & Android, free) – lets you report problems you encounter on the rights of way network. 
  • Rowmaps (web, free) – type the name of a place and choose which map you’d like to display it on. Choices include Ordnance Survey, OpenStreetMap, Google, and Bing
  • Hampshire MapRoute (Android, paid for) – includes maps, route planning and points of interest

The County Council doesn’t officially endorse any of these, but it’s great to see open data actually being used! If you know of any other apps which use Hampshire’s open data, please let us know.

More open data

Rights of Way isn’t the only spatial (geographic) data which the council has released as open data. There are several others so far (and more on the way):

Data is available both as ESRI Shapefile and KML (Keyhole Markup Language).


I mentioned previously that we’re publishing a bunch of interactive web maps. We’ll be doing lots of work on this over the coming weeks and will be improving what’s already on the Hub Mapping Page, as well as adding examples, static maps, tutorials, and case studies.

There’s lots to say about maps and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) – and we’ll talk some more about it in future posts – but in the meantime I thought you might be interested in a really simple way of viewing KML data in Google Maps:

Quick way to view KML data in Google Maps

  1. Open Google Maps
  2. Choose a file which has been published as KML and copy the link e.g. Hants’ Libraries KML (TIP: position the mouse over the link and right-click. With most browsers, you’ll see a pop-up menu with an option to copy the link address)
  3. Paste the link in to the Google Maps search window, and press search
  4. Voila! You should now see the data you selected on the Goggle Map – here are some examples using some of Hampshire’s KML open data:


View Larger Map


View Larger Map

School catchments

View Larger Map

Long distance routes

View Larger Map

Ordnance Survey and Open Data

Screen grab from Ordnance Survey's Linked Data Platform
Ordnance Survey’s Linked Data Platform

In order for us to publish these data sets as open data, we needed Ordnance Survey to give us exemption from the usual restrictions which apply to data that has been derived from their data. We are hoping that we’ll be able to publish more in due course.

Worthy of a blog post in its own right, Ordnance Survey’s own OS Open Data is well worth exploring. They have a wide range of digital mapping products and open data for downloading. There’s also some excellent work published on the Ordnance Survey Linked Data Platform.

Last, but by no means least, Geovation is doing lots of innovating with OS Open data.



  • * The only data set this method doesn’t seem to work for is Rights of Way – I think that’s because it’s a larger file size and has hit the import limit for Google Maps. But at least we’ve already published that as an interactive map
  • I discovered this method in an article written in 2011 on The Chronicle of Higher Education. At the time of writing – September 2013 – it appears to work fine, although there’s no guarantee that will always be the case.
  • Please read the Licence conditions for any data you decide to download and use
  • ‘Open data, apps and maps’ contains my personal opinions, and doesn’t represent the views of any organisation
  • Do you have any hints and tips you’d like to share about using and viewing open data? Please let us know by leaving a comment below, or through the contact form .

By Mark Braggins

Walking, usually with my two ex-racing greyhounds. Interested in lots of stuff. Work: Business Development and Research at Drawnalism


  1. As more councils release OpenData, it is vital that they shun the OS Licence and use the Open Government Licence. The OS licence has more, unnecessary attribution restrictions than the OGL. OS further confuse matters by claiming that their licence conforms to OGL. It does not. If it did they would just use OGL. OGL was not available when OS OpenData was first launched.

    If you like maps, try OpenStreetMap. The data is all freely available (with attribution) and is often much more up to date than OS data which is only released a few times a year. You can render your own maps to include what you want to show and add overlays if you want to. If there is anything missing or changed you can change the data for yourself. Altogether much more flexible than OS OpenData.

    I have studied the RoW data for my local council (East Riding of Yorkshire). The quality is very mixed, with changes on the ground from many years ago not being released in the released data, a mis-placed footpath shown straight through some houses and a footpath shown through a set of lakes. Some of the council-placed RoW finger boards on the ground don’t match the status (bridleway vs footpath) on the RoW data.

    My advice is check council OpenData on the ground and when you find discrepancies report it. Crowd-sourcing can significantly improve this council-held data.

    I’m working on a checking overlay for RoW data over OpenStreetMap to ensure OSM is as good as possible and to gather anomalies to report back to the council.

  2. Hi Chris, thanks for leaving a comment. Our default licence on the Hampshire Hub (and Hampshire County Council’s open data pages) is Open Government Licence. Where data has been derived from Ordnance Survey we need OS’ permission before we can publish data as open data, and the licence reflects this. I’ll follow-up with OS on this and get back to you on the detail.

    From a data provider’s perspective, we’re aiming to make data available so it can be used by anybody for any purpose, including great mapping tools like OpenStreetMap. I didn’t want to make the post too long, otherwise I would have mentioned OSM as well. That’s one for a future post

    Thanks, Mark

  3. Hi, I’m Nick Whitelegg, the author of FixMyPaths. First of all, thanks for the message about the site and app! 🙂 Could you change the link, the one you’ve got ( is out of date and not all functionality will work correctly what that URL. The correct current url is Thanks!

    1. Hi Nick. Thanks for commenting and sorry I’d used the old link. I’ve just updated it. Nice work with the app! All the best, Mark

  4. Another OpenStreetMap (OSM) mapper here.

    Congratulations on getting the OS to give you permission to release the footpath data. As Chris says relatively few councils have done this. Although a lot of footpath data is available on The actual legal status of many of these datasets, unlike yours, is unclear

    I recently gave a talk on using a wide range of OGL datasets from Nottingham City Council within OSM (see I hope some of this is of more general interest, both to those who use OpenData and to those managing it’s release.

    One point is that providing postcodes is often ‘good-enough’ for simple geo-location applications of Open Data, without needing to ask for a waiver from the Ordnance Survey.

    The one thing I would like to see happen is the ability to feedback about data quality. I suspect that most councils are already fairly good about this with footpaths, because of links with the Ramblers and local footpath groups. For other types of data it’s clear that many eyes on the ground can help councils clean-up data sets, hopefully to the advantage of all concerned.

    I look forward to seeing more interesting data appearing from you over time.

    1. Hi Jerry,

      Thanks for your really useful and helpful comments. I will have a proper look at the presentation at the link, and will share it – and your comments – with colleagues.

      I confess I haven’t spent much time exploring OpenStreetMap yet, but do intend to as I’ve heard lots of good things. I had hoped to be at State of the Map 2013, but sadly couldn’t make it.

      I’ll pick up on some of your points in a future blog post, and hope we’ll be publishing data you’ll find interesting. If there’s any data you’d particularly like to see, please say and I’ll let colleagues responsible for that service know. We’ll then investigate if it’s something we can publish sooner rather than later.

      Thanks again for your great feedback. Cheers, Mark

    2. As well as Hampshire, the other local authorities that I know of that release an online copy of their dataset are Bolton, Devon, North York Moors National Park, City of Nottingham, Oxfordshire and Surrey.

      You say that the legal status of many of the datasets available from is unclear. Currently, provides access to the datasets of 66 local authorities.

      60 of these have obtained an exemption from the Ordnance Survey’s Public Sector Mapping Agreement which means that they in a position to release their data on terms equivalent to the Ordnance Survey OpenData Licence. Two of the 66 release their datasets with the Open Government Licence; two with their own derivative of the OGL; and the other two use some other Open licence.

      Chris points out that, rather than using the data of a local authority, it is better for an OSM contributor to get their own data from a ground survey of a PROW as this is the only way of finding out what really happens. For this, he/she may find useful in order to see the data that a local authority has about its PROWs and to see which ones are missing from OSM.

      1. Hi Barry, thanks very much for leaving a comment. I think your note is mostly replying to Jerry’s earlier comment about status of datasets, so I won’t attempt to respond to that.
        That’s a really useful resource you’ve created there. I particularly like that you allow users to choose whichever mapping tool they prefer. Thanks, mark

  5. I have built on Barry’s great work for my site here

    If you select the ‘Pins’ tab and press the ‘Wand’ button you can then easily build a route based on PROW segments. As you hover over a PROW it is highlighted in Pink. Clicking the Pink PROW segment, adds it to your ‘Route’. Clicking on the ‘Man On Hill’ button will then load a terrain profile and estimate Hiking time. Press the Blue ? on the first tab for further help.

    I had to do some considerable re-processing of Barry’s data to cope with the varied PROW segmentation treatment used by the different releasing authorities. For ease of routing, each item of PROW data should represent one segment of a PROW between intersections with other PROW and roads (though some PROW will of course have ‘dead ends’).

    1. Hi Bill, thanks very much for leaving a comment, and for the link to your really interesting work. I’ll explore properly and will leave another reply when I’ve had a proper look. Cheers, mark

      1. Keeping the large data set of PROW data from numerous local authorities up to date is a daunting task. It would be oh so much better if OS took on the task nationally with a consistent segmentation treatment. They could also add in the paths in e.g. The New Forest and Dartmoor that are not PROW,

        For a bit more tech detail of how I have used the data, see the code behind this page

        I have used a UTF grid to represent PROW data see here

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