Mapping the future

Mapping the future
Journalism

The Ordnance Survey is setting its sights on Mars

It is a crisp winter’s day, the sky a bright blue behind the geometric shapes of the Ordnance Survey’s Southampton headquarters. Out front, on the symmetrical paving stones that sweep up towards the glass-fronted fac?ade of Britain’s esteemed mapping agency, Angus Hemmings stands surrounded by a group of visitors in lanyards. He stamps his Gandalf stick on the ground — a satellite antenna affixed to a long pole, which is wirelessly connected to the tablet computer strung across his shoulders — and the crowd leans in to see the device up close. ‘We use the stick to connect to the GPS corrector to get positional accuracy,’ explains OS operations technical specialist Angus, while tapping on the computer that sits proud against his high-vis jacket. ‘We’re accurate to about 40 centimetres in urban areas. There’s no one else out there like us.’

It is this exactitude, this precise attention to detail, which has generated such enduring respect for the OS the world over. Its roots are in the digital age has forced the OS to radically rethink its mapping proposition. These days, ramblers are more likely to fire up Google Maps on their smartphone than get tangled up in a paper map in a rainstorm.

This piece was written for Northstar, on behalf of Audi. It was first published in Audi Magazine in February 2016.


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