Ordnance Survey asks the public to suggest new symbols for its maps

‘Give us some directions’: Ordnance Survey asks the public to suggest new symbols for its maps to identify places like bicycle repair shops and dog waste bins

  • The trusty maps are getting a modern makeover with new, useful symbols
  • Updates may include symbols and  accessibility notes for wheelchair users
  • Read more: AA warns Government is failing to meet demand for electric cars

You may have used them to help navigate on a long car journey or during an adventurous walk in the countryside.

But now the reassuringly timeless Ordnance Survey (OS) maps are getting a modern makeover with the mapmaker asking the public to recommend new, useful symbols.

Potential updates suggested by OS include bicycle repair shops, cafes, dog waste bins and accessibility notes for wheelchair users.

In 2015, OS ran a competition for the public to design new symbols, which included electric car charging points. But these have not yet been implemented due to the market ‘changing at a phenomenal pace’. 

The paper maps, first published in 1801, are updated every three to five years, but the ‘master copy’ map of the UK is a huge digital file which is updated with 20,000 new pieces of information every day.

The reassuringly timeless Ordnance Survey (OS) maps are getting a modern makeover with the mapmaker asking the public to recommend new, useful symbols

However, some have criticised OS’s slow progress and suggest that the maps need more radical change to keep up with the pace of our evolving country.

Alexander Kent, of the International Cartographic Association, told the Sunday Times: ‘OS maps are an expression of what the country sees as important. 

‘But they aren’t reflective of the diversity that we have in modern Britain.’

OS said its maps were intended primarily to help people navigate ‘in the great outdoors’.

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