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Virtual London: Removed from Second Life at Request of Ordnance Survey

Our Virtual London model in Second Life has been removed from the collaborative environment at the request of the Ordnance Survey.

The research is currently 'pending license clearance' as the Ordnance Survey are 'uncomfortable' with the use of the data.

Details on the work currently unavailable are in the post below, we are reserving comment at request on this one, but i guess you know our views...

Three Dimensional Collaborative Geographic Information Systems (3DC/GIS) are in their infancy, Google Earth opened up the concept of three dimensions to the mainstream but issues with data copyright, the inability to effectively tag data to buildings and the asynchronous nature of the platform have limited developments.

Second Life however provides a synchronous platform with the ability to tie information, actions and rules to objects opening the possibility of a true multi-user geographical information system. It has been notoriously difficult to import 3D data into the Second Life but at CASA we have managed to import our Virtual London model of 3 million plus buildings into a scrolling map. The map is built from prims that 'res' our of a central point to build accurate models based on Ordnance Survey MasterMap with height data supplied by InfoTerra.

The movie embedded below illustrates a section of Canary Wharf, London building in real-time, note the movie represents work in progress:

For past details see the Ordnance Survey/Google and Virtual London thread.


  1. Anonymous11:11 AM

    How tiresome, I suspect that you and your guardian allies will win this battle in the end. I only hope you don't give up on these wonderful projects in the meantime.

  2. I have to say, that after your earlier experience, I suspected this might happen when you released the YouTube videos and stated where the map data came from.

    You know, at the rate Microsoft is going, there is going to be a 3D London in Virtual Earth soon. Such a shame the UK won't be responsible for releasing a 3D map of London first.

  3. Frank you are right, we were ahead of the game in London with a modelof 3 million buildings ready to go in Google Earth two years ago.

    Words fail me on the inability to publish it on a secure server via Google.

    To see 6 years of research put on hold due to license restrictions which would of seen all parties viewed in a postitive light is kind of sad.

    The removal of the work in Second Life i cant comment on....


  4. Once again OS stifle innovation with their short sighted licensing policy. The only solution is for Central Government to remove the 'trading fund' status. In the meantime we should continue to develop the methods and tools in anticipation of the day when we don't have to worry about this. Maybe the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information needs ( lobbying on this issue.

  5. There is nothing in the trading fund status of OS that prevents it from licensing data for such innovative uses.

    This is a choice made by OS, because, at a very fundamental level the current licensing regime is broken, and there is no way to license data derived from OS Mastermap data.

    Andy just keep up the great work !!


  6. The government's policies are encouraging the spread of licensing, not reducing it - my organisation, which is a gov't agency, couldn't agree licence terms with another gov't agency which itself had based the data it generated on OS data. We are now building our own layers at considerable expense (of public money) but will only sell these on. we are now not allowed to let anyone take paper copies of maps from our buildings for fear of licence issues and redigitising of the maps. So public consultations will be easy to work with if you are rich enough to licence the data from us to do your own analysis, but if you don't have the money you'll be severely limited in the 'public' info you can access.

  7. Andy - thats a good point and well raised.

    Its a situation that cant continue, while it hits us as an educational establishment it hits private firms harder.

    Andy (CASA)

  8. Being experienced with corporate fights, you need to find the names of the people who are responsible for having made that decision. You then take that name and present it to other people in their organisation to find those who think it was a stupid decision.

    You then arrange interdepartmental meetings, making sure that you invite the people who agree with your position, and make sure there is a group manager who is in charge and can form an independent opinion.

    The worst thing you can do is contest the decision up the chain, as that means the higher-up people have the opinion pre-formed. You need people from their own department making the same arguments as you.

    When it is laid out quite plainly that Google and Microsoft are going to eradicate the value of that data, it is obvious that their best interest is served by collecting what sponsorships they can get before it's too late. Go for a 3D London Craigslist!

    At the very least, you need to capture the names of the people who made such stupid decisions onto documentation so that they can be sacked or denied promotion in a couple of years. Then you won't have to fight them again later on other equally obvious and sane things to do.

    However you do need to stop doing one thing. Stop giving it up on a plate to Second Life, or Microsoft, or Google, just because they have a viewer program!

    Write your own damned client and use that - and if that's why other departments are saying "no" to you, then they're right and everything I said above is what they should do to you!

  9. Steve - you are right, and I expect we will develop our own client to show our own dataset. But want we all want to do is to share & integrate data sets - we all know that is where the extra value can be generated. If we're not allowed to share, then we can't do it. And each dataset bound up in its own browser won't solve that.

    And it is very difficult to tella lawyer they are wrong - they hav a knack of agreeing that it is a stupid decision whilst telling you that you can't do anything but abide by it.

  10. Andy (CASA/DU)11:58 AM

    Posted by Andy (of CASA and Digital Urban)

    Steve i agree with the other Andy, who for ref does not state the view of DU or CASA in case you thought it was me.

    A good and thoughtful comment Steve, I'll get back with some more thoughts soon.

    Just wanted to post this to avoid confusion with the Andy's as we are not developing our own client.

    Andy (CASA)