Processing OS Mastermap topography dataset

OS MasterMap Topography Layer is the most detailed and accurate view of Great Britain’s landscape – from roads to fields, to buildings and trees, fences, paths and more. It contains over 470,000,000 topographic identifiers (TOIDs) providing the user with a unparalleled view of Great Britain. With this sheer volume of detail comes ALOT of data and this post will explore two tools for uploading the whole dataset into PostgreSQL.

The product normally comes on a set of CD-ROMs (11 for the whole dataset) and it is essential that you get hold of the Feature validation Dataset (FVDS) which provides a list of all the TOID’s so you can cross reference with what has been uploaded.

I have also created a layer that contains 1x1km grid squares that have OS MasterMap topography data (244,583 in total) by using a combination of this free tool and the OS 1km price matrix. This is useful as a reference to check you have the data everywhere you should do and also if you need to use the grid squares as a search mechanism for the data.

You can download this layer from here.

OS Translator II

Developed by Lutra consulting and available as a QGIS plugin, this tool provides a simple GUI for uploading data. It allows data to be uploaded with styles and provides postgres setup details to optimise the speed of upload. The downside is that the tool only supports create or replace (not APPEND) which implies COUs might not load consistently.

To use you need to be connected to your postgres database through the QGIS DB manager. You are presented with a variety of options: you will definitely want to create a spatial index and remove duplicates because we are dealing with geographic chunks of data. The last two options relate to styling the layer and it is recommended to select these aswell. Two additional fields will be added allowing you to style the layer with either ESRI, Geoserver or QGIS stylesheets. In the right window you can also select the fields you want to be entered – the less you select the quicker the upload but at the cost of losing data.

OS translator tool

I had one issue with the styling and had to add these fields after the initial upload. I believe this was to do with the svg path not being correct (as mentioned here. If you experience the same issues then just download the SQL scripts for schema 7 here and schema 9 here. Note, you will need the array SQl scripts as items under the styling columns are stored in array’s.

You can see the visual difference between schema 7 (bottom) and schema 9 (top) below:

OS translator tool

OS translator tool

Astun loader

The Astun loader has one significant advantage (it can append records meaning COUs can be handled) and one significant disadvantage (it’s alot slower) than the OS translator. Therefore, you could use the OS translator to get the whole dataset in PostgreSQL and then use Astun to handle the COU’s for example.

This tool allows GML/KML data in general (OS Mastermap is GML) to be transferred to any format compatible with OGR – in this case we will transfer the data into PostgreSQL. To be this we need to create a config file, some examples are provided here. The one I used is presented below:

# Note: Environment variables can be used with any of
# the options by using a token of the form:
# $HOME, ${HOME} or %TEMP% (Windows only)

# The directory containing your source files.
# All supported files in the specified directory and
# it's descendants will be loaded.

# The directory used to store the translated data
# if writing to a file based format such as ESRI
# Shape, MapInfo TAB etc.

# The directory used to store temporary working files
# during loading.

# The ogr2ogr command that will be used to load the data.
# Here you can specify the destination format and any
# associated settings (for example database connection
# details if you are writing to PostGIS).
# As well as environment variables the following tokens can
# be used which will be substituted at runtime:
# $output_dir - the directory specified by the out_dir setting
# $base_file_name - the file name of the file to be loaded
# $file_path - the full path of the file to be loaded
ogr_cmd=ogr2ogr --config GML_EXPOSE_FID NO -append -skipfailures -f PostgreSQL PG:'dbname=brainnwave active_schema=public host= user=postgres password=abcdefghij' $file_path

# The command used to prepare the source
# data so it is suitable for loading with OGR. Choose a prep
# class appropriate for your data, for Ordnance Survey
# products take a look at for the available classes.
prep_cmd=python $file_path prep_osgml.prep_osmm_topo

# An optional command to be run once OGR has created it's output.
# Called once per file, useful for loading SQL dump files etc.
# All of the tokens available to the ogr_cmd can be used here.

# Optional OGR .gfs file used to define the
# feature attributes and geometry type of
# the features read from the GML.

# Whether to output debug messages and keep
# temporary files (True or False).

Once the data is loaded, the SQL scripts to append style fields still have to be run to allow the use of stylesheets.

GDAL / OGR cheatsheet

A wonderful cheatsheet for using GDAL and OGR – taken from Derek Watkins GitHub page

Vector operations

Get vector information

ogrinfo -so input.shp layer-name

Or, for all layers

ogrinfo -al -so input.shp

Print vector extent

ogrinfo input.shp layer-name | grep Extent

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Calculating number of overlaps between polygons

A common application within GIS is to create buffer / catchment areas – an interesting analysis is then to see how many overlaps occur with the each catchment indicating whether a site is under or over provisioned. This can be achieved using Postgis and the following fantastic tutorial.

This can you allow you to produce maps like the following:


Below gives a snapshot of the process:

create table boundaries_allot as select ST_Union(ST_ExteriorRing(geom)) from
(select (ST_DumpRings((st_dump(geom)).geom)).geom as geom from allotment_buffer) q 

This has been altered from the tutorial to include multi polygons. ST_Dump breaks down multi polygons into single polygons and ST_DumpRings provides the interior and exterior rings of polygons (for complex polygons)

CREATE SEQUENCE polyseq_allots;
CREATE TABLE polys_allots AS
SELECT nextval('polyseq_allots') AS id, (ST_Dump(ST_Polygonize(st_union))).geom AS geom
FROM boundaries_allot;

This creates individual polygons for each multi-linestring and uses ST_Dump to switch any multi polygons to single polygons.

UPDATE POLYS_allots set count = p.count
  SELECT count(*) AS count, AS id  
  FROM polys_allots p 
  JOIN allotment_buffer c 
  ON ST_Contains(c.geom, ST_PointOnSurface(p.geom)) 
) AS p

Once we have the individual polygons, by using the centroids of the new small polygons with the set of original circles, we can calculate how many circles contain each centroid point.

PG routing – driving distance

Building on the work of previous posts looking at building routable networks and finding the shortest path in a network, this post will look at creating buffers around nodes based on a cost attribute specifed by the user.

The driving distance function, which comes with pg routing 2.0, creates an alpha shape around a node, normally based on the distance someone could travel from that node, or how far someone could go in a time interval.

For this example, we are looking at where someone could travel in 1km along the network from a central node. The following query selects all the nodes that are within 1 km of node 2000.

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PG routing – shortest path algorithms

Once a routable network has been set up we can start to find the shortest path (using Dijkstra’s algorithm) between two points. From here on, I will be using the OSM data for the London road network.

The query use’s a ‘cost’ column – which could be anything thing you like – to calculate the shortest cost from one node to another. In this example I decided to use travel time (rather than distance).

First, I changed the distance of each vertex (the way table) from km to miles, and then calculated the time it would take to traverse each vertex whether walking, cycling or driving. To make this more accurate, I updated the max speed (forward and backward) along each vertex dependent on its class (as listed in the class table).

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Processing OS Codepoint with polygons

Following on from an earlier post updating OS Codepoint data , this post will now look at how to process OS Codepoint with polygons. This dataset provides a polygon for each postcode, including vertical streets (represented by squares) which is where a building has more than one postcode.

1) From the data provided by OS all the shapefiles (for each postcode sector) need to be merged into one. This can be achieved using QGIS ‘Merge to one’ tool under the vector toolbar or by writing a simple python script in arcmap utilising the merge tool.

2) We are going to create two extra fields in the attribute table ‘PCOutcode’ and ‘PCSector’ – this will provide us with additional symbology options with GIS. For ‘PCOutcode’, use =RTrim(Left(Postcode,4)) to capture the first part of each postcode, and for ‘PCSector’ use =RTrim(Left(Postcode,5)) where Postcode is the postcode field and RTrim removes any trailing spaces.

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Processing OS Codepoint Data

Working in a professional GIS environment,you will undoubtedly be dealing with Ordnance Survey data – whether open or private. One of the most useful of these is OS codepoint which provides a precise geographical location for 1.6 million postcodes within Great Britain.

This is the basis for geocoding, one of the most commonly completed tasks in GIS. This posts describes the method for creating an address locator ready for geocoding.

1. Firstly, load the data from the CD and delete (or use to a create a new address locator) the bt.csv file which represents Northern Ireland.

2. Then merge the csv’s together using the command line (make sure you are in the directory where the files are stored).

copy *.csv insert_new_file.csv

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Forest fire risk map for Greece

During my postgraduate degree I had to design a risk map for the spread of forest fires throughout Greece. This was created using different topographical layers and various indices which affect the spread of forest fires, and providing a table of risk for each layer based on their values. These values were then summed to create an overall risk map. Each layer is presented below (CTI = Compound topographic index; HLI = Heat load index).

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QGIS plugin: Mask

QGIS has many fantastic plugin’s, but one of these I use most in my day to day work when creating maps is the Mask tool. This allows me to either completely, or partially, mask the base map outside my area of interest, so the user can concentrate fully on the features you have mapped within their area of interest.

It’s so simple. Just select the polygons you want outside of which you want the mask and then enter the symbology parameters. I personally make the mask completely white to remove the base map but you could alter transparency levels to really bring the base map alive within the polygon.

Completely white base map outside of London boroughs

Completely white base map outside of London boroughs using a shapeburst effect

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