UK Transport Minister, Robert Goodwill, has announced that the Department for Transport (DfT) will contribute £3m (US$4.6m) to help create a digital road map for England and Wales that will give the most detailed information yet to councils and emergency services. The new map, developed by Ordnance Survey (OS), has the potential to transform how all levels of government maintain and improve roads, by detailing information, such as road widths, traffic calming measures and height and weight restrictions. The new dataset could also be linked to other information held by government, including planned road works and cycle paths. The information may also be used in satellite navigation systems, and will also help emergency services find the quickest routes when responding to ‘999’ (telephone emergency) calls. The dataset also has implications for future autonomous vehicle (AV) tests and eventual deployment, as they require accurate information for navigation and positioning.
The new product will consist of the high-quality data submitted by local authorities through the National Street Gazetteer (NSG), combined with OS’s widely-used authoritative and fully maintained geographic roads data, creating a definitive highways network for England and Wales. Local and national government currently use a variety of maps when planning road projects and maintenance. The new mapping system will bring all existing information together, cutting bureaucracy and saving money spent by councils and government on exchanging and comparing different maps. The new digital road map will be added to the Public Sector Mapping Agreement, allowing all areas of the public sector to access the data. An entry-level open-data version of the road map will also be made available, with a full commercial product appearing in the future. OS, working with street data experts GeoPlace, plan to deliver the initial products to the DfT and public sector before the end of March this year.
Launching the project, Goodwill said, “This government is backing schemes that will make Britain’s transport system world-class. This mapping project has the potential to substantially improve how we look after our roads. It will help make journeys more efficient and ensure traffic keeps moving. This funding demonstrates our commitment to funding the technology of the future, which will drive economic growth and create jobs.” Neil Ackroyd, acting chief executive of OS, commented, “We’re pleased to be working with the Local Government Association, GeoPlace and the Local Highways Authorities to create a single, unified highways product for use across both the public and private sector.” Richard Mason, managing director of GeoPlace, noted, “Following the successful model of our AddressBase range of products, this new announcement paves the way for bringing together the very best of local authority streets information with Ordnance Survey data to provide better planning, management and more informative routing options across the road network, driving cost efficiencies.”