The Ordnance Survey in the UK is responsible for mapping the United Kingdom. This week, the agency released a map of the UK that was vastly different to anything it's done before. Ordnance Survey on Tuesday announced that it had created a Minecraft world representing over 224,000 square kilometers of Great Britain using two of its OS OpenData products.
The project was completed by an intern named Joseph Braybrook who works in the Ordnance Survey's Innovation Labs team. OS says the Minecraft GB terrain was created using OS Terrain 50, a 3D model of the bare earth surface known as a Digital Terrain Model and delivered as a grid with a resolution of 50 meters. The raster version of OS VectorMap District, a mid-scale contextual or backdrop map product, then extracted surface features (like water, woodland and roads) based on pixel colors and densities. Ordnance Survey used this information to modify the material of individual blocks in the Minecraft GB world.
The new Minecraft GB world consists of more than 22 billion Minecraft blocks and is now available for download by any of Minecraft's active users. Players will enter the world at Ordnance Survey's head office in Southampton. From there, users can add their own creations (Ordnance Survey suggests Stonehenge and Hogwarts).
"We think we may have created the largest Minecraft world ever built based on real-world data," said Graham Dunlop, Innovation Lab Manager at Ordnance Survey. "It's impressive to know that despite never having used Java programming previously, Joseph took just two weeks to create the Minecraft GB world. The resulting map shows the massive potential, not just for using Minecraft for computer technology and geography purposes in schools, but also the huge scope of applications for OS OpenData too."