Parish Online Stories

Understanding the new APGB aerial photography agreement

Everyone, (hopefully), is familiar with the PSMA. Well now there’s a new acronym on the block; the APGB. We take a look at the new agreement, the data, and how it affects our Local Government customers.

To begin with and to be clear, the PSMA (Public Sector Mapping Agreement) is still in force and isn’t affected by this new agreement. The PSMA is now nearing its 8th year (out of a 10) and is the agreement that allows public sector organisations to use Ordnance Survey premium mapping products free (at the point of use). These datasets include OS MasterMap Topo Layer (the most high-resolution base mapping), and OS AddressBase Premium (a point representing every addressable property in Great Britain). These are the layers of mapping data that you see in our XMAP and Parish Online software and they help Local Government organisations carry out their asset management, grass cutting schedules, events planning, Neighbourhood Plans, and pretty much anything that you can plot on a map.

OS MasterMap with OS AddressBase overlaid
OS MasterMap and OS AddressBase

Without the PSMA, for every customer that uses XMAP or Parish Online we’d have to charge them for the Ordnance Survey data they use and, in turn, pay Ordnance Survey royalties. This would be fine, but by putting up monetary barriers to access the data you’re not exactly greasing the wheels of productivity, the growth in the use of digital mapping, joined-up data and Local Government efficiency. So Central Government stumped up the cash and paid Ordnance Survey directly and the PSMA was born.

And now, the same concept is being applied to aerial photography through the APGB framework, which stands for Aerial Photography for Great Britain. It kicked off at the beginning of April 2018 and gives a free-at-the-point-of-use licence to all public-sector organisations. This agreement is between Central Government and a consortium of two commercial aerial survey companies; Getmapping Plc and Bluesky International Ltd.

The term for the agreement will run for two years with the potential for it to be extended in the future. So it’s not as long-running as its big brother agreement, PSMA, but nonetheless an opportunity for all of public sector to get their hands on the data really make some good use out of it.

The agreement isn’t just aerial photography either. The datasets available include:

Aerial Photography at 25cm resolution (country-wide)

National coverage of aerial photography where you can see detail such as building extensions and infer land use.

 

Aerial Photography at 12.5cm resolution (for much of England)

Higher resolution photography gives greater detail of the ground. The 12.5cm imagery doesn’t come with a perpetual licence and should the contract cease to run after 31st March 2020 it would need to be returned or an extended licence purchased.

Colour Infrared Composite (country-wide)

This is like aerial photography but it's been modified to highlight vegetation using Near Infrared. Vegetation is displayed in red. The stronger the red, the greater the chlorophyll response from the vegetation.

 

Elevation Model with surface features (country-wide)

This is an image-based representation of elevation. In this example, green is low and high is orange/red. This gives you an understanding of the terrain.

 

Elevation Model without surface features (country-wide)

This is the same as the surface model, but it's been processed to remove all the vegetation and man-made features.

The capture programme by the APGB consortium will see rolling update of aerial photography and the derived products (Infrared & Elevation) all across the country using their pool of aerial survey aircraft and digital cameras. They capture the imagery in blocks, so it can take a while before your area gets updated but the aim is to have data available in all areas that’s less than 3 years old.

 

An aircraft typically used for aerial survey
An aircraft typically used for aerial survey

 

And now the (hopefully) not so complicated bit… getting access to the data. We’ve clarified the process with the APGB Consortium to make the process of getting access to the data as easy as possible, but there are a few steps that you’ll need to take to get it fed into Parish Online, XMAP, or whatever GIS service you’ve got. Here's a quick step-by-step guide:

  1. Go to the APGB website (www.apgb.co.uk)
  2. Register using your organisation name and PSMA number
  3. Complete a sub-contractor licence agreement that you will find in the licencing section of the APGB website. GeoXphere will need to sign this as well.
  4. Visit the APGB MapShop (www.apgb.blueskymapshop.com) and request a download of all the datasets for your area. Alternatively you can request a 'WMS feed' (which comes in the form of an elaborate link) that we can use in Step 5.
  5. Pass the data or WMS feed onto us (we can provide a download location through the support ticket)

From there, we’ll load it into your Parish Online or XMAP account and you can view it from there just as you can with any other dataset.

Some of you will be accustomed to aerial photography, and some will even be used to infrared imagery and elevation models. Either way, once you’re using it we’d love to get your feedback on how you’ve been using it, what you think of the quality, resolution and how up-to-date your area is.

Time to get signed up and get using the data!


Parish Online (GeoXphere Ltd), PO Box 6987, Basingstoke, RG24 4HQ

GeoXphere General Enquiries (note: this is not a support line): +44 (0) 2034 114 544

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