The Cabinet Office has launched an agreement with two providers of aerial imagery data to make it free at the point of use for public sector bodies in England, Scotland and Wales.
It has signed the Aerial Photography for Great Britain (APGB) contract with Bluesky and Getmapping as part of the effort to support the use of geospatial data and provide momentum for the recently created Geospatial Commission.
The APGB, which is initially set to run for two years, covers aerial photography with a resolution of 12.5cm and 25cm, five-metre digital terrain and two-metre digital surface models, along with 50cm colour infrared imagery.
It extends the availability of mapping data to public authorities beyond the existing Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA), which provides for the provision of Ordnance Survey maps and data.
A spokesperson for the companies said that organisations in England and Wales can receive the new data free for internal business use and for any purposes connected to their public task, while those in Scotland will have to add to a fund pre-financed by the Scottish Government.
In all three countries the users can access the data by logging on to a newly created portal and presenting their PSMA number to confirm eligibility. If they do not have one they will have to contact the APGB team to assess whether they are entitled to access.
It is also possible for them to receive the data through a secure web mapping service feed or on a hard drive or memory stick.
Rachel Tidmarsh, managing director of Bluesky, said: “The Government has shown an understanding of the importance of geospatial data, not only for public sector services but also for the wider economy.
“Agreements such as the APGB contract, together with the newly created Geospatial Commission, will drive the effective use of data: unlocking billions of pounds of extra value for the economy each year.”
Image from Bluesky