Is your data a little lost?

14th December 2015

What are locators?

Location is central to all GIS applications. Locators are a way of making definitive sources of known locations available to users so that they can:

  • Search – Find the location they are interested in e.g. enter a place name to zoom to a location.
  • Geocode – Add x,y location to their data e.g. add an x,y location to each customer based on their postcode.
  • Reverse geocode – Find the closest known location to a point of interest so they can describe it e.g. the nearest road to a fly tipping site.

What locators can I use?

The ArcGIS Platform includes the world geocoding service which provides locations for the whole world. Esri UK have now made available three additional locators specifically for our UK customers. These are based on the latest Open Data from the Ordnance Survey and include OS Open Names and OS Code-Point Open.

OS Open Names is an Open Data dataset released by the Ordnance Survey. It includes place names, road names, road numbers and postcodes for Great Britain and includes more than 2.5 million locations. The OS Open Names locator allows geocoding and searching against postcodes, street names, road numbers and places all in a single locator.

OS Code-Point® Open is an Open Data postcode-level dataset providing a point location for all geographic postal codes in Great Britain. This locator allows geocoding and searching against postcodes (e.g. HA4 6AJ).

BNG (British National Grid) is a coordination system locator that allows you to enter coordinates in British National Grid format for example TL12341234 or 123456,123456. This allows you to navigate to a known grid reference.

How do I access the locators? 

ArcGIS Online
These locators can be used across the ArcGIS Platform. You can find the locators by searching for “EsriUKLocators” in ArcGIS Online. You can add these services to your organisation by adding them as a geocoding service, however, to make it easier for you to configure the locators in your ArcGIS Online accounts we have created a free app – UK Content – which is available from the ArcGIS Marketplace. The app provides the option to Add Locators and this will setup each of the locators as a geocoding utility service, making the locators instantly available in the templates and apps that are part of ArcGIS Online.

ArcGIS Desktop – ArcMap
You can easily add the locators to ArcGIS Desktop:
1.    Open the Catalog window
2.   Expand the GIS Servers Folder and select Add ArcGIS Server
3.    In the wizard, choose Use GIS Services
4.    Click Next
5.    Enter or (no authentication details are required)
6.    Click Finish
7.    Select the new server and choose a locator from the list.

ArcGIS Desktop – Pro
We recommend that you first setup the locators in your ArcGIS Online account either by configuring them yourself or using our UK Content app.  Once you have done this and are signed into your ArcGIS Online account from Pro, you can access the locators by opening your project pane and you will see the locators listed in the Locators folder.

Using the Developer APIs
The locators can be accessed directly at the rest endpoint  and consumed through the developer tools available as part of the platform.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q) How do these differ from the locators previously available through free Esri UK Online Services?
A) If you are already using the free locators previously published by Esri UK see this blog to understand the changes we have made and the benefits of moving to the new locators.

Q) Do I need login credentials to access these new locators?
A) No, the OS Open Names, OS Codepoint Open and BNG Locators are publically available – so no login credentials or sign up are required.

Q) Why are OS Locator and OS 50K locators not available?
A) These datasets are soon to be retired by the Ordnance Survey. The OS Open Names is a new product that includes both road names (previously in OS Locator) and place names (previously in OS 50k).

Q) What projection are the locators in?
A) The OS Open Names and OS Codepoint Open locators are in BNG (British National Grid). This means any data you geocode will be given BNG coordinates.

Q) Are credits consumed when you use these locators in ArcGIS Online?
A) No – no credits are consumed when you use these locators in ArcGIS Online.

Q) What about map services?
A) Esri UK have already launched a number of free basemaps for the UK.