For ComputerWeekly.com, I have explored the options available for online mapping and how they are used by councils. Google Maps, OpenStreetMap and Ordnance Survey’s open services all have strengths and weaknesses.
Google Maps are familiar to most people and good on roads, but weak on many other features. OpenStreetMap is in some places excellent – just look at how the two compare in central Oxford, and who knew the Weston Library, not even named on Google, was next to the Cumberbatch Building? (No, not named after Benedict Cumberbatch.)
OpenStreetMap includes details no-one else has such as cycle routes and private paths, but as a crowdsourced operation quality varies. Of course, anyone who wants to can help with improving it. If you just want a map image you can use as you wish, it’s the place to go; just click on the ‘share’ box and arrow logo on the top-right of the screen.
If what you’re mapping is within Great Britain, Ordnance Survey has the most consistent mapping at a uniformly high quality. Its OpenSpace web map builder looks good and is fairly easy to use, although you do need to get an API key and there are a few wrinkles. For example, the HTML code it produces can be used in WordPress, but you need to install a plug-in to make it work. I also cut out some header and footer data in what OS passed on; this could all be a bit easier.
However, the results are worth it. This is a map I put together using the OpenSpace service showing my four Geek’s Guides published so far by The Register. The search box at the top is particularly good.
I reckon I should make more use of both OpenStreetMap and the Ordnance Survey’s open services in future. The full article is here.
Guardian Healthcare Professionals Network has also published a couple of new articles by me, on how some NHS trusts are working to support the health of their staff and on information security in the health service.