Integrating new open land data (UK focus) e.g. #OpenDefra

Hi everyone,

I’m currently running a project looking at how land data can make life easier for communities and social enterprises who want to work with land. A lot of new data is becoming available in the UK, and I think it’s important that it’s used to help everyone, rather than just the private sector (who look like the likely beneficiaries as things stand). OpenStreetMap seems like a really good platform to integrate the data, so I’m interested in finding out if this is possible.

I was wondering if anyone knows of any plans to integrate new public data, for example from Defra (Environment Agency, Natural England, Rural Payments Agency etc.), or from Land Registry, Ordnance Survey etc. I know that the OSM community was involved in responding to the 2014 floods. Although this isn’t an emergency like that, it does offer a huge amount of potential for helping people.

I would be really interested to hear from anyone who is thinking about integrating this data, or even any responses on how likely/ possible this integration is. I’m relatively new to OSM so I’m not entirely clear on what the scope of inclusion tends to be though I did see that some Natural England data has already been looked at (

I’m also not a developer, however I can help identify what data would be most valuable to integrate and I’d like to feed into this process if it happens.


Blog from Owen Boswarva on the new #OpenDefra data:

Some blogs I wrote about this

Long experience shows that great caution needs to be exercised about use of many of these datasets: they are open insofar as the organisation making them available owns the data. In practice many use Ordnance Survey data and the openness of the licence is debatable. In at least one case: Land Registry INSPIRE data, a local council (Kent IIRC) was required to take the data down from their website.

A second point is that, in general, we only incorporate data in OSM which is verifiable on the ground. Boundaries, for instance, can be readily verified, but not mapped as precisely as the OS Boundary Line set. Many of these data sets: e.g. flood risk areas, rural payments etc, are not readily ground-truthed, and would not therefore belong in OSM.

Thirdly, OSM data is mutable. We make no guarantee that if data is imported that it will remain in the form which it was imported.

Fourthly, there is a well defined import process for data. The starting point is to discuss this with the local community. The talk-gb mailing list is the only place where you will find it easy to address a reasonable number of UK-based mappers. In general imports are not particularly popular in Great Britain.

In the main, most of this data can readily be merged with relevant OSM data for a wide range of purposes without the data having to be incorporated within OSM. In practice it is much easier to maintain data separately than trying to merge updates into an imported data set in OSM.

I, and others, have written extensively on using Open Data from Government & Local Government sources for OSM within the UK. I suggest a read of some of my blog posts, and perhaps those of Chris Hill to start with. Both are available through the OSM Blogs aggregator (click on RH side bar)

Thanks for taking the time to write such a helpful answer. I will have a read of the blog posts and also have a look at the talk-gb mailing list

Edit: Having just read your hopes for the future of OSM, I think that integrating the public datasets could certainly help address these: