The new Ordnance Survey building in Southampton

The new Ordnance Survey building in Southampton

The Duke of Edinburgh will today officially open the new headquarters of Britain’s official mapping agency, 42 years since he and the Queen opened the Ordnance Survey’s previous head office.

The Duke will visit the new 6.5ha (16-acre) Southampton site and talk to staff at the high-tech centre, which produces digital mapping and more conventional maps used by outdoor enthusiasts.

OS was founded in 1791 to map the south coast of England during fear of invasion by Napoleon. Today, the £130m-a-year public sector business collects, maintains and distributes geographic data used for purposes ranging from rubbish collection to planning flood defences.

The Duke will meet one of Ordnance Survey’s 250 surveyors, who make 5,000 changes a day to the digital mastermap of Great Britain using satellite technology accurate to a few centimetres.

He will also be shown how Ordnance Survey uses 3D technology, similar to that found in cinemas, to pinpoint changes to the landscape.

Director general and chief executive Dr Vanessa Lawrence said: “We are absolutely delighted that the Duke of Edinburgh is to officially open our new building.

“Our new head office perfectly fits our role as a modern, technology based organisation and we very much look forward to welcoming the duke here and to demonstrate how much map making has changed over the past 42 years.”

Ordnance Survey moved into its new environmentally friendly head office in February this year. The site includes a 100,000 litre rainwater harvester, the largest underground heat pump system in the country consisting of nearly 100 boreholes more than 90m deep and a datacentre that processes 1,000 terabytes of information every day.

Although OS still produces paper and digital maps used by walkers, climbers, mountaineers, mountain bikers and cyclists, its primary role now is to collect and maintain the geographic data that businesses and public services rely on. Geographic information from Ordnance Survey helps underpin everything from the digital television switchover and satellite navigation to habitat planning and the fight against insurance fraud.

  • grough is a commercial partner of Ordnance Survey in its grough route mapping and route-planning system.

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