Opening OS Green Space Data to the Public

September 5, 2014

Yesterday afternoon, the Deputy Prime Minister announced that the government was working with Ordnance Survey (OS) to compile and release data on publicly accessible green space in England and Wales. Not only that, but Nick Clegg also announced that this data would be made part of OS’s OpenData suite, i.e. freely available to the public and commercial or non-commercial software, website and app developers. This is something we called for in our Park Land report in November 2013.

What are the potential implications of this data release? The data itself would be an important first step in enabling communities to hold their local authorities to account for development on green spaces. It would also allow the first robust analysis of the green space available to people in their local area and the effects that has on mental and physical health.

But perhaps more important (and interesting) is the potential for other data to be added to OS’s offering.

Currently, we have no idea what state our urban green spaces are in – whether they’re improving, declining, and whether some areas have particularly good or bad parks and other green spaces.

This is something that can be easily gained from the public. All you would need is a website that shows OS’s green space map and allows the public to find and rate their local park or other green space, similar to TripAdvisor. This would enable local authorities to direct limited funding to where it is most needed.

With yesterday’s announcement of the release of OS’s green space data, there is now a chance for NGOs or social entrepreneurs to develop an innovative and useful map that empowers communities and encourages engagement with green spaces.

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