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Invitation to tender: Local government open geospatial data stimulus fund

Wed Sep 19, 2018
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Apply for this stimulus fund to grow the public sector’s understanding of how to collect, publish and use open geospatial data, with a specific focus on collaborative approaches

19 September 2018
Tender reference: RDPM-010
Call for tenders by the Open Data Institute
Contact: [email protected]

FAQs: Public answers to questions receiving during the tender process

Summary and timeline


The purpose of this fund is to grow the public sector’s understanding of how to collect, publish and use open geospatial data, with a specific focus on collaborative approaches.

Local government in the UK are the stewards of a rich collection of geospatial data including data on transport, planning, green spaces and the urban environment. Early research conducted as part of the ODI’s R&D project to unlock the benefits of open geospatial data highlighted that local government often struggles to release openly licensed data, limiting its ability to work with local communities, startups and SMEs to create innovative products and services.

We are keen to develop further insights into how local government can be supported in publishing and using more open geospatial data. Through our Innovate UK funded R&D programme, we are launching a stimulus fund to encourage local government to explore new approaches to publishing and using open geospatial data.

We are interested in funding projects that explore collaborative approaches to data collection, management and use that draw on resources and support from across the UK’s geospatial data infrastructure including, for example, the Ordnance Survey, OpenStreetMap communities and local open data groups.

Recent announcements relating to the opening up of OS MasterMap will offer significant opportunities for local government to publish more geospatial data. This stimulus fund should provide useful insights into how this might be achieved.

In the UK and around the world a number of national and local governments have begun engaging with OpenStreetMap communities to explore collaborative approaches to publishing and maintaining open geospatial data. This stimulus fund would support and enable further collaboration between local government GIS teams and the broader open data community, including OpenStreetMap and its contributors.

The successful projects will work in collaboration with the Open Data Institute who will provide guidance, review and assistance throughout the project.

Working with the Ordnance Survey, the ODI will also support projects in providing feedback on issues around derived data licensing. We will also ensure that projects can take account of the ability to publish additional derived data that will be enabled as part of the delivery of Open MasterMap. We will also help to collate prioritised lists of datasets that local government would like to release more generally as part of their work.


This stimulus fund is one of the activities we are conducting as part of our project to explore how to unlock the value of open geospatial data in the UK. This is part of our wider 2018 innovation programme. This project is running during a period of evolution and change in the UK’s geospatial data infrastructure.

The UK government recently announced that key parts of the OS MasterMap product will be made openly available for the public and businesses to use under the Open Government Licence (OGL). This includes:

  • Property extents created from OS MasterMap Topography Layer; and
  • OSMM Topography Layer TOIDs (TOpographic IDentifiers) will be incorporated into the features in OS OpenMap-Local.

Over the next 12 months the Geospatial Commission are working with GeoPlace, the LGA, the Improvement Service (on behalf of Scottish Local Government), and OS to investigate opening up the key identifiers UPRN and USRN, together with their respective geometries, for the whole of Great Britain under OGL terms.

Opening this data under OGL will provide additional valuable open data into the ecosystem and help to remove barriers that are limiting local government in publishing more open data created from these sources.

The datasets that will be made available for free, subject to thresholds, through an API are:

  • OS MasterMap Topography Layer, including building heights and functional sites
  • OS MasterMap Greenspace Layer
  • OS MasterMap Highways Network
  • OS MasterMap Water Network Layer
  • OS Detailed Path Network

OpenStreetMap is already being used in a variety of commercial, humanitarian, research and government projects around the world. In the UK some local authorities have begun working with OpenStreetMap as a means to publish open geospatial data that can be easily used by a variety of data consumers. OSM UK recently formed to help coordinate the work of the OSM community in the UK.

The plans to increase the availability and openness of data from the Ordnance Survey and other organisations, and the existence of infrastructure like OpenStreetMap, provides an opportunity to explore new approaches to resolve existing barriers for data release faced by local government.


UK upper tier and lower tied local authorities, in partnership with local or national OpenStreetMap communities or chapters, local open data groups, or civil society groups.


The types of activities we are looking to fund include:

  • Projects that might help to demonstrate the onward benefits of the Open MasterMap, e.g. by highlighting the types of derived data that will be easier to release, or through use of infrastructure such as the OS Open Zoomstack trial
  • Collaborative projects that enable local government GIS, planning and other service delivery teams to learn more about OpenStreetmap and how it could support local service delivery, e.g. via a “Mapper in Residence” project
  • Projects to import openly licensed geospatial data into OpenStreetMap or similar platforms, that can be easily extended into other local areas of the country
  • Community based mapping activities, e.g. using services like Wheelmap in a mapathon, to help enrich collaboratively maintained maps with information that might inform local policy development
  • Creation of guides and tools to enable local businesses and communities to more easily contribute to their local maps


The deliverables will be:

  • a final report of no more than 10 pages that documents the experiences and lessons learned by the project team, in a way that enables the project to be replicated in other areas
  • project blogs published at the start and at regular intervals during the project
  • at least two openly licensed outputs, e.g. learning tools, documentation, case studies, open source code, that will enable other public sector organisations to build on the work
  • participation in 2 full-day workshops during the course of the stimulus fund, that will bring together teams from across the funded projects to share plans and lessons learned. The first workshop will take place w/c 3rd December so applicants will need to ensure they are available to attend.

Any open data published through this fund should be released under the Open Government Licence (OGL) to enable the widest possible reuse.

We expect projects to:

  • work in the open, documenting their activities and outputs for others to use
  • engage with their local open data and/or OpenStreetMap communities
  • attend fortnightly monitoring calls with the ODI team

The ODI will provide:

  • guidance and support around licensing of data
  • support with promoting the project and its impact
  • support with coordinating with Ordnance Survey to resolve any potential issues or questions around derived data licensing, and to provide feedback around the types of dataset that local government would like to release
  • opportunities for peer networking and knowledge sharing amongst the sponsored projects


At least 90 days of work between 26 November 2018 and 29 March 2019

Value of award (excl. VAT)

We expect to make up to 4 awards, ranging from £15-25k depending on the number of awards. Applicants should highlight where there is flexibility in their budget in their applications

Questions to ODI by

5pm BST on Friday 5 October 2018

ODI responses by

5pm BST on Friday 12 October 2018

Costed proposals due by

5pm GMT on Wednesday 31 October 2018

Tender decision by

5pm GMT on Friday 16 November 2018

Contract awarded

5pm GMT on Friday 23 November 2018

Final work delivered by

29 March 2019

Tender reference:



[email protected]

Terms of payment

Payment of the agreed contract price will be made at two milestones:

  • 50% at the halfway point
  • 50% will be paid upon completion of the work, including satisfactory responses to all feedback from the ODI

Form of tender response

Applications can be on behalf of consortia of local organisations, startups, agencies. Interested parties should submit a costed proposal (in English) to [email protected], which includes:

  • the tender reference in the email subject line
  • a short (no more than 5 page) explanation of your proposed activity, including what work is already underway and why you are well-placed to do the work
  • a description of the team who will do the work, including biographies
  • a break down of the costs at activity level
  • an indication of whether public funding has previously been granted for this or similar projects conducted by the council or consortia
  • a writing sample of a similar research report or impact study

If you have any questions about the tender, please contact [email protected], quoting the tender reference. The ODI reserves the right to make both anonymised questions and answers public or shared with other organisations having stated their interest.

Decision criteria

All proposals will be assessed as described in our public procurement policy. In addition, for this procurement we will also require the following:

  • Applications must be led by a public sector organisation, the application should be supported by a named senior level champion in the organisation
  • The stimulus fund is available to support all members of a consortia, applications should highlight how money is being spent across the organisations involved and the roles each consortia will be taking
  • Evidence that the project will involve collaboration with other organisations and in particular with local open data communities, e.g. OpenStreetMap communities and chapters
  • Where funding is being used to support existing work, the applications should demonstrate how the further funding allocated in this workstream will build on the existing work that is already underway

Applications should address one or more of the types of activities highlighted above and must result in the publication or use of open geospatial data.

Activity which is ineligible includes:

  • purchasing new technical data infrastructure, such as servers
  • purchasing of mapping equipment, e.g. GPS devices, drones, etc
  • purchasing of licences for mapping software or platforms
Image: OpenStreetMap on Wikipedia (cc by 2.0)


Q1: Can I apply to tender even though I am based in Ireland? And if I have not yet set up a limited company?

Stimulus fund proposals need to be submitted by local government, who may be working in partnership with community groups, commercial organisations, etc. So you will need to find a local authority to take the lead on the application.

We are only able to fund projects for UK local authorities, so if you’re able to partner with a Northern Ireland authority, then this would be an option.

Q2: Do we need to register in advance of submission, or can we wish submit a costed proposal by 5pm on 31/10 without any previous contact being necessary?

There is no need to register. You may submit any number of proposals before the 31st October deadline.

Q3: Could you confirm if there are any additional tender docs / a tender pack?

There is no additional documentation or a tender pack. Answers to questions sent to our procurement email will be published on the ITT page so that all applicants can see the updates.

Q4: Is publishing data as an online map an acceptable open format that will meet the criteria of this tender? If not, could this data be presented in another format that would be acceptable?

Data can be published as an online map, e.g. as a means for anyone to access and explore the data. But the data used to create that map must also be:

  • released under the Open Government Licence
  • published in one or more machine-readable formats that will make it easy for others to reuse, e.g. CSV, GeoJSON, etc
  • available in bulk, so that the data can be easily accessed and downloaded

An online map does not meet this criteria as the data is not necessarily available in bulk or in machine-readable formats.

Q5: Are purchases of non-GPS equipment to, for example, crowdsource and map air quality eligible for funding?

Purchase of equipment is not covered by this tender.

Q6: Are purchases of GPS route documenting devices e.g. Blubel eligible for funding?

Purchase of mapping equipment is not covered by this tender.

Q7: The application guidance mentions the exclusion of technical infrastructure, mapping equipment and licences. Does this exclusion include development of existing software/databases, such as (hypothetically) developing existing databases with open taxonomies/new standards or developing new functionality for existing software to more effectively publish data to open sources?

Developing new software, or improving existing software that directly supports the publication or use of open geospatial data is in scope.

However we would expect that:

  • any software developed would be published under an open source licence, that will allow reuse by others
  • the software can be easily be reused by other organisations without requiring licensing fees, e.g. use of commercial software
  • the software is not tied to internal systems or proprietary databases that limit the potential for its reuse

Broadly we are hoping that funded work can ultimately be reused by other local authorities. Where you are looking to improve existing systems and software, please be clear in your submission about how this will help to create impact for your project and potential for reuse elsewhere.

Q8: In addition, would contracting with commercial 3rd parties to develop system add-ons to enable the above (with an expectation of open source) be acceptable as part of the bid?

Applications must be led by a public sector organisation, but can involve consortia that includes community groups or organisations from the private and third sector. Applications should highlight how money is being spent across the organisations involved and their contributions.

Noting the answer to the previous question, contracting commercial organisations to develop software would therefore be in scope.

Q9: Would activity to support the development (and open publication) of internal business case/feasibility study for infrastructure development moving from proprietary to open source platforms be acceptable?

The stimulus fund is intended to encourage local government in exploring new approaches to publishing and using open geospatial data. We expect the funded projects to involve practical work that will result in the publication or use of open geospatial data.

Applications that solely cover business case development, feasibility studies or research without practical components are not acceptable.

However we will be encouraging the funded projects to share insight into business cases, expected impacts of data releases, benefits of open source, and/or guidance on how projects might be replicated in other areas, as part of writing up their work.

Q10: More broadly, does the bid fund expect/require appropriate and costed in-kind contribution from Council staff, or would costed time recovery be appropriate?

We are not limiting how money is being spent, so could be used to cover staff costs for those activities that are part of the funded work. This should be clear in any submissions, as we have asked to see a breakdown of costs by activity.

However we encourage applicants to consider how in-kind contributions from partners or other members of a consortia can be leveraged to increase potential impact from the funded projects.

Q11: Are there any additional requirements related to the ‘sample of a similar research report or impact study’ requested in the tender response

We would just like to see a representative sample of your writing. We are asking funded projects to write a report and blog posts to help share their work with a wider audience. We are happy to look at a variety of examples, including research reports, previous blog posts, etc.