Skip to the content

Ordnance Survey calls on emergency services for more data for Vernacular Names Tool

The Vernacular Names Tool presented to Princess Anne on a visit to Ordnance Survey HQ
The Vernacular Names Tool presented to Princess Anne on a visit to Ordnance Survey HQ
Image source: Ordnance Survey

Ordnance Survey (OS) has invited blue light organisations around Great Britain to input local and colloquial nicknames into a new database called the Vernacular Names Tool.

The national mapping agency said the tool, which it hosts in its OS National Geographic Database, is a replacement for FINTAN, a mapping tool created more than 10 years ago in response to a request from HM Coastguard.

It has been created in a partnership between OS and HM Coastguard and was designed to allow users to upload any local name, alternative name or nickname for a coastal feature alongside the accurate location or existing geographic name in the mapping database.

These include features such as cliffs, caves, sandbanks, coastal car parks and buildings, and help Coastguard responders get to emergencies – however their location is described – with greater confidence and speed. From only having a rough idea of location and needing to search the map to confirm the right place, control room staff could simply type in a location nickname and be given a precise location.

Most of the contents of FINTAN have now been uploaded onto the Vernacular Names Tool alongside input from new emergency service users across England, Wales and Scotland, bringing the current volume of names to over nine and a half thousand.

OS is now encouraging even more of the blue light community to participate.

Local nicknames

John Kimmance, managing director of OS National Mapping Services, said: “Wherever we live, we all have nicknames for local places – and uploading these into a database really could mean the difference between life and death on an emergency call – particularly for services called from outside their regional areas.

“It is great to see how Fintan added value to the work of HM Coastguard - we are now keen to get more 999 services uploading information into this essential tool.”

Chief Coastguard Peter Mizen said: “The Vernacular Tool is an incredibly useful resource for our maritime rescue coordination centres to have access to. It has allowed local knowledge to be shared across our operational network and there are examples where its use has improved the tasking of critical rescue assets.  

“We are very proud to have played a significant role in its development and we are pleased to see it being made available to colleagues in other emergency services today.”

OS added that the information on the tool, along with other information on names, places and objects, will ultimately help to power the recently launched OS Emergency Services Gazetteer.



Register For Alerts

Keep informed - Get the latest news about the use of technology, digital & data for the public good in your inbox from UKAuthority.