Open data, apps and maps

This post was originally published on the prototype Hampshire Hub web site.

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