Rumoured to be heading for George Osborne’s sell-off list, the mapping agency has plotted a route through the digital age to remain a unique asset
On a housing estate in Southampton, surveyor Alyson Whiting is painstakingly recording the outline of a curved flowerbed. One of a small army of field workers for the Ordnance Survey, she is using a tablet computer wirelessly linked to a satellite antenna atop a long pole – affectionately known among the national mapping agency’s staff as a “Gandalf stick”.
The agency’s headquarters previously stood on this site, but now red-brick family homes have sprung up. With them have come new roads, new pavements, new addresses. Whiting diligently records the shape and size of them all.