The Ordnance Survey have made a long-awaited announcement that most of their mapping data is now released for free public use. They announced this on April the 1st.

Pull the other one... oh wait, they really have.

This means anyone can perform analyses that would previously only have been possible by paying to license the data. For example, I've taken the OS Locator data, which is a gazetteer of street names in Great Britain, and used a Python script to produce a list of street names in Great Britain ordered by frequency.

The Ordnance Survey CodePoint database has also been released. It's a cut-down version that doesn't include as much detail as the one you get if you pay, but it still includes what until Thursday had been elusive to non-paying users: a grid reference point for every postcode in Britain. You don't get the correspondence between postcodes and addresses/street names; you still have to license that from the Royal Mail.

Still, it's a huge leap in the right direction. The uses to which this data can be put are innumerable; they even include, but are not limited to, trawling through the street name gazetteer looking for naughty words. Not that I would put a respectful wealth of information to such a frivolous purpose, of course.

On a completely unrelated note, there's a Twatling Road near Bromsgrove.