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Category: Ordnance Survey

Loading the OS Open Zoomstack Geopackage into ArcGISPro (with OS styling).

Loading the OS Open Zoomstack Geopackage into ArcGISPro (with OS styling).

OS Open Zoomstack in ArcGIS Pro with symbology created by the Ordnance Survey

This is a quick write up that’s related to the blog series I’m doing on custom symbology in ArcGIS Pro.  Well sort of, it just so happens to be the perfect dataset to use to use for UK based mapping projects where you don’t want to use a costly licenced dataset (maybe the forthcoming Open MasterMap may change that?).   Now, I know I normally write about 3D and CityEngine related stuff but I do love a good 2D map as well!  This post assumes a simple working knowledge of ArcGIS Pro.   I’m considering making this a video as well so you can see the entire process.

First you need to download the OS Open Zoomstack as a ‘geopackage’ don’t worry whilst ArcGIS Pro doesn’t support direct editing of a ‘geopackage’ it does support native reading of it. * there’s some discussion in the comments at the end of this post, if you’re reading on the front page click here to view

Fun fact: the GeoPackage is an ‘open format for geospatial information’

You can read about it here.

A word of warning this is a UK national dataset, so naturally the size is large (10.1 Gigabytes!).

To help as well I suggest you download the Ordnance Survey’s custom symbology for this dataset which you can get from github.

As you can see there are some instructions on what to do with style sheets if you’re an ArcMap user in that PDF linked above… well I do not use ArcMap much anymore more so I’ve pretty much made a complete transition to ArcGIS Pro so here’s what you do next.

Step 1: New ArcGIS Pro project and then ‘insert’ a new ‘map’.

Step 2: Convert the Geopackage into a File Geodatabase… as far as I am aware you don’t need an Advanced licence or FME or the Data Interoperability Extension (if I’m wrong comment below on this post) you can drag in each layer manually into a Map in ArcGIS Pro and then right-click the ‘export data’ function.  Or better yet, you can use the copy features GP tool (using the Batch function). *I’ve created a toolbox with two tools that simplifies this process for me.  I will share this as a separate blog post soon…

Step 2: Remove the prefix ‘main_’ from all the feature classes you imported into the new file geodatabase, otherwise you can’t use the lyr file on them….

Step 3: Find your “OS-Open-Zoomstack.lyr” (link to download it here) and drag it in to your Map, notice all those red “!” marks, this means it can’t find the data these symbols are linking too.   Click on one of these red “!” to fix them all.   It will ask you where the data layer is located ( in this case ‘names’).  Find the data in the new file geodatabase you created.

Step 4: Well it should all work and all those “!” should have gone and you have a nicely symbolised OS Open Zoomstack data set courtesy of the nice folks at the Ordnance Survey.

A final note this workflow unbelievably helped me find where Esri hid the ‘repair data’ function went, basically they built it into the “!“… d’oh.

Coming up in a future blog post: How we can use OS Open Zoomstack with our hand drawn custom symbology.

3D London Model Demo in ArcGISPro

3D London Model Demo in ArcGISPro

3D London Model Demo in ArcGISPro from Garsdale Design Limited on Vimeo.

3D London & Terrains

3D London & Terrains

I’ve been working on the latest CyberCity3D London coverage today, using the terrain map we have and experimenting with the terrain colours.   Sometimes a satellite imagery overlay on terrain in CityEngine just doesn’t seem to work…

Here are some screen shots from ArcGIS CityEngine and the Webscene viewer.




Webscene view of London Bridge –> Click on image to find out more about London Bridge!

Data courtesy of CyberCity3D, who I am providing CityEngine consulting for.


One of our Bridges is Missing! Mapping Discrepancies (update: no it isn’t)

One of our Bridges is Missing! Mapping Discrepancies (update: no it isn’t)

Yes, I did spend sometime in Photoshop doing that… quite proud of the bridge…

UPDATE 07/02/2014 :  Read the associated comment on this post from Phil at the Ordnance Survey, quite possibly the best response I’ve ever had on this blog, thank you.

UPDATE 07/02/2014 2: Old Maps at end of this post courtesy of ‘Phil Allen’ FSE Manager at the Ordnance Survey, thank you!

Working with real 3D models of London it sometimes makes sense to place this in context on a boundary map, but I’ve run into to something that’s given me pause for thought….

The City of London is an odd and special part of London I think you’ll agree, I’ve always known it’s administrative boundary as being a little odd (something about bridges…) sure enough on the City of London website there is the boundary showing clearing two bridges are covered in its area.


Now being a GIS sort of fellow I want to download this boundary set, so visiting the OS OpenData site, I see that something’s up whilst one bridge is clearly there on the left, London Bridge has been excluded (hence my clever title).   What does it all mean?   Well I think probably OS Opendata is generalised in some way and this bit got missed… but I don’t really know.   Downloading boundary data from the Greater London Authority data site doesn’t fix things either (it is just the data set the OS gives).

The 3D London Bridge is from Trimble Warehouse (click on image for more 3D London)

So what does this all mean?  Well it means that the OS may well be the ‘authoritative geographic data’ set for the UK, but it doesn’t mean everything you get from it is without ‘issues’.   Know your data, know its limitations, also did I mention OpenStreetMap seems to get it right?  Why am I relying on data from the OS again?

OpenStreetMap better than some give it credit for… (actually maybe not, see comments)

UPDATE 07/02/2014 1:  Read the associated comment on this post from Phil at the Ordnance Survey, quite possibly the best response I’ve ever had on this blog, thank you.

UPDATE 07/02/2014 2: Old Maps below courtesy of ‘Phil Allen’ FSE Manager at the Ordnance Survey, thank you!





Flood map visualising using OS Opendata & CityEngine

Flood map visualising using OS Opendata & CityEngine


Okay it’s a little odd but I’ve been experimenting with Ordnance Survey Opendata and CityEngine on and off for a while…. using ArcGIS Spatial Analyst Extension tools I created from some OS terrain an artificial flood polygon.   I imported the terrain and polygon into CityEngine renamed the flood polygon “flood__water”  (the “__water” tells the CityEngine webgl viewer to render it as water).  Then I exported it out as a webscene.

Whether this is actually useful I don’t know, certainly for this demo it’s not as I’ve exaggerated the terrain a little for ‘dramatic’ effect.

I think it looks pretty good, I’m in the process of adding buildings, roads and forests, I’ll let you know how it goes… I’m also wanting to do this again using opensource software like QGIS and CityEngine (there is no equivalent of CityEngine as an opensource product).



Oh and I think they need some more water types… I think flood water might be dirtier….  if you’re interested in more do you remember the tree top walkway post I did a while back?

UK local online #mapping is a stupid mess…

UK local online #mapping is a stupid mess…

Yuck, online mapping 1990s style

Today something is bothering me,   it has been bubbling away since I wrote this post “The Awful mess of Local Plans online” and I can’t contain it anymore.

Where’s my broadband coordinator? Cumbria CC

Cumbria as a geographic area I think has a lot of online maps and they all vary in quality and usability.   Sometimes it looks like the people who are operating them haven’t told other departments what they are doing…. to be fair they probably have but red tape has got in the way…

Lets take Sedbergh (yes I used Google Maps!) for example, if I want to see what services my local authorities’ provide on a map I can go here for Cumbria CC services but if I want to see their Public Rights of Way mapping (and the two national parks), I have to go here.  Now Cumbria also has a Historic Environment Record and their mapping is here (seriously slow & doesn’t always work).

Walk this way , Cumbria PROW map

Cumbria’s Historic Environment Record mapping is shit, no really

Now here’s the fun bit, bins, building control and libraries are dealt with by South Lakeland DC .   Ah, but if I want to see my local plan online rather than via PDF I have to go to the Yorkshire Dales online GIS here.   Oh and if I forget what Local Authority I’m in Eden DC provide some mapping for part of Sedbergh too.

Eden Web Mapping, basic but okay?

South Lakeland’s mapping just like Barrow’s and I quite like it..

All these maps provide detailed OS Mastermap level mapping.  Some are symbolised quite well, others not so well, I’ve always liked Barrow’s online GIS which South Lakeland seem to use, but that’s because it’s a bit technical and I hear open source [PDF].   I also worry when watermarks aren’t done well.

As a resident I shouldn’t have to check 5 different online maps to check out what’s happening in my area.  I certainly shouldn’t have to learn how each one operates! (look I used bold and underline I must be serious)

I can’t help wondering why no one is trying to get a national government mapping organisation whereby everyone gets the same online mapping frontend/interface but is in charge of their own data. A bit like the Planning Portal but for publishing data not just receiving it.  If people think this can’t be done, I think people working on the EU’s INSPIRE directive might say otherwise.

What I would like to see is web mapping become central not just an after thought to local and national government websites.   Yes there is a place of localisation (depending on usage, tourism, history etc…).   But a national web mapping site is needed so we can seamlessly browse geographically adjacent datasets.   This would be great not just for residents but also policy makers, politicians and professionals.  Imagine for example, seeing planning statistics and local plans for neighbouring authorities on one seamless map?   Local councillors could see how neighbouring areas with similar demographics are doing.  Think how easy consultation with neighbouring councils could be!

Enough of my musings, I’m off to make a map for a local authority in Iraq….

Related Posts


ESRI UK Conference – People I met

ESRI UK Conference – People I met

UPDATED: Various errors (spelling, grammar etc..) have been changed since the original was posted

It’s the brief encounters and interesting discussions that make all the difference at these types of events.  Often I learn more and come away more enthused from the people I meet rather than the presentations, I think this year was no exception.

I didn’t meet everyone at the dinner bash….

Below in no particular order are some of the people I met (apologies if you are not on the list, use the comments section to point it out!):

  • Nick Chappallaz ESRI UK – Nice guy obviously quite busy at the conference, and I apologise for using video that didn’t work on ESRI’s laptops!
  • Angela BakerESRI UK – She made me feel very welcome, and was very encouraging.   She expressed a love for Inverness (I up on holiday soon near there).   I just hope I gave her a presentation that works!
  • Andrew BloggKorec – As a well as a colleague whose name escapes me (I didn’t get his business card).   They are, as I understand it, the UK distributor for this neat bit of surveying kit GPS + Camera + Rugged looking Tablet PC + REMOTE CONTROL PLANE = Geek heaven? From SenseFly, check out the video here.
  • Lisa ThomasThe Coal Authority – She did a presentation on the Geo-Futures track after me, which I talk about here.    We had a very interesting chat at lunch on Day 2 (it’s always difficult standing up, eating and talking to a fellow professional who can tell when you’re making it up!), she told me of the interesting stuff that happens at the AGI meetings (I should probably go to one, one of these days).  We also discussed presentation techniques and how to cope with nerves…. thank you.
  • Richard GreaneyRusmoor Borough Council – It’s a shame I missed his session, but I did meet his colleague (sorry I didn’t get her name), and heard good things about his presentation.  He was also excellent company at the evening dinner/awards.
  • Richard Betts , Scottish Natural Heritage – Nice to meet him and hear that his bosses seem to give him the freedom to explore new and innovative ways of working.   Again he was good company at the awards dinner.
  • Steven Feldman Knowhere Consulting – Interesting gentleman with a lot of knowledge and enthusiasm, likes to be a bit controversial. I spoke with him about derived data (interesting discussion still going on here) and Rights of Way (RoW) as well as opendata – His suggestion/advice still ringing in my ears “JFDI”!
  • Stuart LesterBirmingham City Council – From a very big authority and doing great things, we talked about how to motivate people into perhaps working differently, joined up thinking etc…   I think the Planners of Birmingham could get some interesting stuff done with his help!
  • Elavvenil KarthikeyanBLOM – Came and found me at the end of the conference, he was interested in my presentation and was doing some interesting modelling of cities, mainly for TomTom and was very interested in CityEngine.  I think there is an interesting project here.  Perhaps he’d like to come back and chat with me and the people at Procedural.

A big thank you to everyone I met and spoke with, I really enjoyed it.

Continue to thoughts for the Future, suggestions for ESRI UK

ESRI UK Conference – Day 2

ESRI UK Conference – Day 2

UPDATED: Various errors (spelling, grammar etc..) have been changed since the original was posted

I stayed on the Geo-Futures track throughout, don’t get me wrong there was great choice out there.   I would have been interested in seeing more, but on balance there was more of interest to me on this track.   Last year I did jump around, this year I thought I’d try staying where I was, both approaches worked for me.

The following is quick run-down of what stood out for me, it’s not a review or judgement on anyone’s presentation.   They were all good and very interesting.

  1. “The Transition to a Low Carbon economy” – Emily Martin, ESRI UK – More detail on this subject from day one.   She gave me some interesting ideas that I want to explore further, I love that GIS can help us understand and assess the effectiveness of new technologies.   Whilst giving us real monetary values and pay back times!
  2. “Games and the City”My presentation which you can find out about here.
  3. “GeoDesign: Asset management in the Public Forest Estate” – Tony Farndon, Forestry Commission – I have great respect for anyone that manages forests (call it a family thing). I was interested in their use of 3D visualisation to see what future landscapes would look like with new plantings (I have some ideas about this to…).
  4. “Data in the Public Domain: Is Anyone Ready?”Lisa Thomas, The Coal Authority – As a Durham Postgraduate Alumni, (Geographical Information for Development anyone?) I am aware of subsidence and old mine shafts (the library and much of Durham’s campus is on an old mine!) so I found this quite interesting.  Dramatic pictures aside, there was a valuable point to be made about releasing their data to the public.   As there needs to be a lot of knowledge required to understand some of the implications of the data that they hold.   Personally I think that without educating people, no one is ready for this kind of data.   Her points also linked quite nicely with Steven Feldman’s presentation. Also her interesting insight into the world of INSPIRE was an eye opener for me (being in the private sector) and now I understand why @alexrcoley couldn’t make it (too busy!).
  5. “The OS Road Map” – Dave Russell, Ordnance Survey – Good stuff from the OS (as always really), interesting to hear about where they think the money is, as well as upcoming 3D and other products.
  6. “Open Data – is it like giving a kid an AK47”Steven Feldman, Knowwhere Consulting – I did attend last year’s presentation entitled “Navigating in turbulent waters”.  I’ve not really spoken to him before this year but I certainly have heard of him!   No bad things, of course, but he is one these presenters with a style that you remember.  Personally I wouldn’t call it provocative or controversial but it comes close for some I guess.   This presentation dealt with the question (in my mind at least) of whether OpenData should be open to everyone.   In that, he meant that perhaps only professionals who use a rigorous and professional approach to analysing and publishing data should get to have a go.   I may have paraphrased it a bit, but using the fiasco as an example of how not to do GIS was a good example.   He also illustrated this with a ‘police crime map’ of where he lives showing a large number of crimes occurring right next to him.  

    But if you don’t understand the context of the data or how it is displayed (and it can’t just be some minor piece of text disclaiming the data) the information is useless. Other than for journalists! I would like to add, that whilst the data is made “anonymous” by a particularly stupid method, the data isn’t very anonymous in areas of smaller populations (or small streets).  Anyway, it was a very good presentation, and you can tell it got my brain working a bit!

  7. “ESRI UK Online services “ – Dave Bayer, ESRI UK – Well I was glad our hosts had technical issues (made me feel better about some of my presentations issues), but I’m glad to see that ESRI is not standing still on the online front.  It’s a shame they couldn’t access the server.  But I’m looking forward to the OS opendata base maps!
  8. “Using new technologies to deliver savings in the Public Sector” – Duncan Hill, Europa Technologies – Interesting look at joined up approaches and integration of cloud mapping services into peoples systems.   My company is not really big enough or doing the right jobs to benefit dramatically from this kind of approach (we’re on a per job basis), having said that someone else does manage our maps on a regular basis, thank you ESRI for including that in ArcGIS 10.
  9. “Real Time GIS” – Charles Kennelly, ESRI UK – The resident DJ (didn’t he play S-Club7 as an opener at last years conference?) also had technical issues, well if you put us far away from anyone else at the conference maybe this will happen!  That didn’t faze him as he whipped out the latest cutting edge technology, pen + paper!   Who knew you could do such things without a battery!   I honestly found it quite refreshing to see a presentation done a flip-chart.   Joking aside, he made some very interesting points about how computing power has come on so far that real-time GIS processing is a reality and that we should be thinking about it now because it is coming.   He also warned against the dangers of focusing attention on the finished mapped product as being the ‘source data’.   He suggested our attentions should be on the process to we used to get to those mapped products.

    He’s right and I think I’d like to talk to him further about this in relation to what I do….

So, I hope that was of some interest to people, it’s one of my longest blog posts but conferences always get me fired up and thinking about new approaches.   Which considering the title of this year’s conference is quite appropriate!

Let me have your feedback, if I’ve missed anyone out or have additional observations or information please leave a comment below.   I will add your thoughts to the appropriate parts of the post as well.