OS MasterMap® generalisation prototype provides perfect framework for land cover maps

August 25, 2005-- Laser-Scan is currently completing a successful generalisation project with the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and Ordnance Survey Great Britain. Laser-Scan produced a prototype generalised OS MasterMap dataset, creating a new spatial framework for CEH’s forthcoming Land Cover Map 2007.

CEH is the UK's Centre of Excellence for research in the land and freshwater environmental sciences. CEH specialist skills include a wide range of environmental disciplines, ranging from the smallest scale (the gene) to the largest scale (whole Earth systems). Their research is aimed at improving understanding both of the environment and the natural processes that underlie the Earth's support systems - for example climate & water resources. The Land Cover Map is part of the Countryside Survey programme which monitors the landscape of Great Britain every 8 to 10 years.

OS MasterMap is an extremely data rich product containing land parcel information at a level of detail that is not necessary in the final Land Cover Map. By using Laser-Scan’s generalisation technology, CEH were able to achieve customised land parcels specific to their needs. Use of OS MasterMap as a base dataset ensures data accuracy and speeds up processes such as information collation and digital checking. The next Land Cover Map will also be business-ready, as it should fit over any system that is already using OS MasterMap data.

A recent project to generalise OS data from the island of Jersey was undertaken manually and took 3 months to create 15,770 polygons and achieve the same framework as the automatically generalised data. The equivalent task for the whole of the UK would take more than 200 man-years! By using the prototype Laser-Scan technology, CEH aims to reduce this time to just 9 months.

Dr. Geoff Smith, Head of Integrated Applications Group at the Section for Earth Observation at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said:

"The automatically generalised OS MasterMap data produced by Laser-Scan match the spatial specifications required for the parcel-based analysis of satellite data for land cover mapping. This result is very encouraging for the development of the next UK land cover map which will therefore be more closely aligned to the national mapping base and user requirements."

Carl St John Wilson, Pre & Post Sales Support Manager at Ordnance Survey Great Britain added:

“Laser-Scan has been actively involved with OS MasterMap from the original creation of the product through to innovative use of the data, such as this generalisation project. I believe there are a number of organisations like the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology that are currently using or planning to use OS MasterMap who could benefit from this new approach. ”

The CEH parent organisation is the UK Natural Environment Research Council.


Dr Geoff Smith is based at the CEH research site at Monks Wood near Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire.

Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Press office:
Barnaby Smith, tel: 07832 160960
e-mail: Email Contact


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