Using Geographic Information System tools with Connect Cathays

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The Problems

Ordnance Survey does have a level of openness through its OS OpenData initiative, which can be used with other open datasets available on, but has limitations at the building outline level - see OS MasterMap Topography Layer.

Cardiff Council has an online mapping portal which offers a range of informative layers, but it is not possible to link into this for Connect Cathays inline queries for copyright reasons.


OpenStreetMap is used throughout Connect Cathays. It is similar to other mapping services except for one MAJOR difference. The map, in its entirety, was contributed and continues to be contributed by everyday people. This leads to a direct advantage that OSM has over all the others. The data is free to use and does not include any technical or legal restrictions.

  • One current outstanding task for the Connect Cathays wiki is the addition of the outlines of buildings onto the base maps.

Apart from OSM's own wiki, there are a large number of online manuals, tutorials and other aids

Discovering Collaborative Mapping [2] A FLOSS Manual for OpenStreetMap

Collaborative mapping is a way to gather this information and share it with others and OpenStreetMap is strongly contributing to this larger movement.

Beginner's Guide to OpenStreetMap [3]

Three useful software packages are POTLATCH2, JOSM and MERKAATOR

There is also Quantum GIS QGIS - a user friendly Open Source Geographic Information System (GIS) licensed under the GNU General Public License. QGIS is an official project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). This software is particularly useful for displaying ESRI shapefiles on OSM map bases, which can be saved as jpegs.

Other Data Sources

Postal Boundaries Open 2012 is a spatial dataset detailing the extent of the 9,232 geographic postal sectors (eg H21 8) covering Great Britain as of October 2012. The data is released under the same terms as the OS OpenData license with the single addition of GeoLytix to the attribution list.

Code-Point® Open contains a list of all the current postcode units in Great Britain, each of which has a precise geographic location at a resolution of 1 metre. It is ideal for a variety of uses including planning A to B journeys, performing analysis, managing assets (such as premises) or utilising postcode lookups.

Postcodes in Polygon This is a demonstration tool that retrieves a list of GB postcodes based on a polygon area drawn on a map. {{Category:Possible Blogs]]