Request for publication of study used to draw up new OS strategy

Charles Arthur made this Freedom of Information request to Ordnance Survey

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Charles Arthur

Dear Sir or Madam,

On May 12 2009 Sir Rob Margetts, chairman of OS, said in a public speech that "We did, with outside help, a review of equivalent organisations around the world" in determining the effects of a free-data model, mixed model or private model on OS's future strategy.

I request the publication of all parts of the review that do not contain commercial-in-confidence data, and the separate publication of a full version of the review with commercial-in-confidence data redacted.

Yours faithfully,

Charles Arthur, editor, Guardian Technology

Customer Services, Ordnance Survey

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Tony Gray, Ordnance Survey

Dear Charles

Ordnance Survey references: 71171/71181

Thank you for your e-mail sent to Rob Andrews on 25 May 2009
drawing our attention to your Freedom of Information request on a
“review of equivalent organisations [to Ordnance Survey] around the

Ordnance Survey aims to release the information you requested. In
line with FOIA we have contacted the other National Mapping
Agencies (NMA's) consulted to seek permission from them to ensure
that they have no confidentiality concerns in the information they
provided, on which the review is based.

As you can imagine this is taking some time, hence this request
asking whether you have any objections to allowing Ordnance Survey
to extend the 20 working day deadline to complete this
correspondence for our response to 21 July 2009.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

You also posed a number of other questions directly to Rob Andrews,
which we intended to respond to at the same time as to your main
request. Some of the answers are linked to the response to the main
request and depend on our contacts with the National Mapping
Agencies as described above. However, as a sign of our intention to
respond positively, we can provide an answer to one question now:

What was the reason for not consulting the South African mapping

The intention was to make the results of the study as relevant as
possible to the economic and wider situation within Great Britain.
Hence we selected a representative sample of National Mapping
Agencies and similar bodies from countries that have similar
economies to that of Great Britain. In the case of South Africa,
the per capita annual GDP at the time of the study was circa £6,
350, and this did not compare sufficiently closely with those of
the selected countries, where the average per capita annual GDP is
£25,100, or with Great Britain at circa £20,100.

Yours sincerely Tony Gray FOI Practitioner Ordnance Survey Rm C363,
Romsey Road, SOUTHAMPTON, United Kingdom, SO16 4GU Phone: +44 (0)
23 8079 2540| Mobile: +44 (0) 7789 617648| Fax: +44 (0) 23 8079
2572 |
[email address]

Charles Arthur

Dear Tony Gray,

Thank you for your response of 19 June (OS ref 71171/71181). I note your request to extend the deadline for the release of the OS study to 21 July 2009.

My response is: I would like to have as much information as possible by 23 June 2009 (the original deadline), and the rest of the information by your suggested extension. I still request a redacted form of the study by the original date. [Clearly, where other agencies have not made their consent clear yet, commercially confidential material from them may require redaction.]

If subsequent requests by OS to foreign mapping agencies - which I expect it to pursue diligently (and reserve the right to make FOIA requests about) - for the release of further information succeed, then I would accept a revised copy of the study by your proposed new deadline of 23 July.

I therefore would ask that OS makes clear in both versions which mapping agencies have responded, and what their responses have been.

I consider that no reason has been put forward to keep any of the questions below (from the original request) under commercial consideration, and therefore request their release on or before the original deadline:

-Who or what was the "outside help"?

-Which "equivalent organisations" were examined for the study?

-Which agencies did OS examine for the study?

-Which agencies did the "outside help" examine for the study?

These are all matters of fact without commercial implication. Meetings between national agencies for this purpose cannot be considered secret for both sides if they are implicitly referenced in a public speech by the chairman of one organisation.

I look forward to a speedy publication of the relevant information on or before the first deadline, and a fuller response by 23 July.

Yours sincerely,

Charles Arthur

Charles Arthur left an annotation ()

The OS responded with the answers to questions, and with a enormously - hysterically - redacted copy of the study in which data such as the population and area of the US is blacked out. Well, you can never be too careful.

The study has been posted at . A further, less-redacted copy is expected by the second deadline, 23 July.
Charles Arthur

Tony Gray, Ordnance Survey

1 Attachment

Hi Charles

Firstly apologies for the problems last night.

Please see attached a redacted version of the International
Comparison of Geographical Information Trading Models - Study
report (ref: 71171). The report was commissioned by the then
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local
Government, Iain Wright MP, formed part of an input to the Trading
Funds Assessment undertaken by the Shareholder Executive on behalf
of HM Treasury and the Department for Business Enterprise and
Regulatory Reform (now Business, Innovation and Skills).

As you are aware this is an interim report while we wait for
approval from the countries/agencies, who took part in the study,
to release information related to them. The extension date for the
next version of the report is 23 July 2009.

Kind regards


Rob Andrews

Head of Corporate Communications Ordnance Survey

C361, Romsey Road, Southampton, United Kingdom, SO16 4GU Phone: +44
(0) 23 8079 2265

Fax: +44 (0) 23 8030 5295

[email address]

Tony Gray, Ordnance Survey

1 Attachment

Dear Charles

Ordnance Survey reference: 71171

Further to your email dated 25 May 2009 requesting the: review of
equivalent organisations [to Ordnance Survey] around the world, and
our interim response dated 26 June 2009 I am pleased to provide you
with the attached final release of the ‘International Comparison of
Geographical Information Trading Models’ report with regard to your

Whilst we can confirm that Ordnance Survey does hold additional
requested information, we regret to inform you that parts of the
report fall within the Commercial interests exemption under section
43 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). We believe
this exemption applies because to release the requested information
may prejudice other National Mapping Agencies (NMA’s) abilities to
operate under the commercial constraints related to their national
government requirements; therefore we will not be releasing this
information to you.

To the extent that the Public interest is considered (section 17
FOIA), it is our reasonable opinion that in all the circumstances
of this case there could be a public interest in releasing the
requested information, as this would show that Ordnance Survey
reasonably assessed the options available regarding its future
activities. However, in the process of considering the public
interest and having consulted with all the NMA’s mentioned in the
report we have concluded that in parts the report might prejudice
their relationships in the commercial sector both financially,
commercially and operationally from the release of all the

We therefore consider that the public interest is properly served
by withholding sections of the information for your request.

Please note that your enquiry has been processed to Freedom of
Information guidelines. If you are unhappy with my response, you
may raise an appeal to our Appeals Officer at: Customer Service
Centre Ordnance Survey Romsey Road SOUTHAMPTON SO16 4GU

Please include the reference number above. The Appeals Officer will
ensure that the process has been followed correctly, questioning
any decisions taken regarding the original response and
recommending disclosure of additional information if appropriate.

Thank you for your enquiry.

Yours sincerely

Tony Gray FOI Practitioner C363