Ordnance Survey has released tens of thousands of square miles of maps covering most of United Kingdom in the public domain and will allow anyone to use the maps for free under the OS OpenData licence.
The site was launched on the 1st of April by Communities Secretary John Denham and is part of an initiative launched by the British Prime Minister in 2009, called Making Public Data Public.
Huge traffic caused the site to stagger and was slow all day on Thursday prompting Rob Andrews, head of corporate communications at Ordnance Survey, to tell Web User that they have "had some technical issues due to huge demand" before adding that they're "doing everything we can to resolve these issues."
Howver, the Ramblers, an organisation that consists of thousands of walkers and hikers around the country criticised the fact that the most popular paper maps were left out of the free dataset licence.
The Ordnance Survey defended its decision to do so citing the fact that it was in the national interest and doing so could possibly have undermined "the continued provision of a nationwide paper map series".
One can also argue that the arrival of cheap satellite navigation solutions as well as free online mapping services like Google Maps made it hard for Ordnance survey to charge a pretty penny for services which can be obtained for free.
You can find more about the Ordnance Survey OS OpenData project here.
It will be interesting to find out what kind of mashups come up from this project. One can envisage a service mixing up the OS dataset and anything that can be sucked from Google Maps. Now that would be uber cool!