Real World Data – The Building Blocks of Future Entertainment

Just a decade ago it would have been hard to believe how advanced technology has become, and it’s only going to keep evolving. As it is, right now, we are able to perform simulations of the real world with astonishing accuracy, simply by utilising data transfer. Take, for example, a map of the UK that was made entirely of Minecraft blocks by intern Joseph Braybrook of Ordnance Survey in September 2013.

This feat took a mere two weeks to create, despite consisting of an astonishing 22 billion blocks that recreated 86,000 square miles of Great Britain.

Real World Data

Real World Data

More blocks, more detail

Although, this map has been downloaded over 100,000 times from the Ordnance Survey webpage, its coarse resolution limited what users could do with it. To solve this problem, Mr. Braybrook created an updated version when, due to a graduate recruitment program, he officially started working for Ordinance Survey. The newer version uses 83 billion blocks and each of those lovingly recreates 25m of the British landscape. OS has planned to make the newer, bigger 1GB map available for free download, just as they did with the original, so that others may enjoy it. This venture is the biggest Minecraft map ever created using real world geographic data.


Minecraft is a very popular video game set in imaginary worlds which are made up entirely of blocks. Most users play on the randomly generated worlds but others, like Mr. Braybrook, have taken this a step further and have built and shared their own custom created worlds for others to explore and engage with.

Giving the real world a virtual home

The newer version of the Minecraft map of the UK has been doubled in scale in order to create more detail and was generated using mapping tools that were developed by members of the Ordnance Survey staff. In this way, players are made privy to an experience that is closer to real life, making it much easier for Minecraft players to use. The upgraded scale means that real world elements such as the British countryside and the road and rail networks are all given a more tangible feel. In fact, individuals should even be able to find their own houses if they so wish.

To make this possible, the Ordnance Survey is considering putting this new map on their main webpage, allowing users to input the coordinates that would lead them to their homes on the interactive map. This version was made to be more realistic while still maintaining the gameplay elements that players know and love. Mr Braybrook has successfully used a popular video game as a tool to bring real world information to a legion of gamers.

And, by doing so, he has transformed real world data into a form of entertainment that would have been ridiculed just a few short years ago.

Author – Looking to build ridiculous things through the power of big data? Find out how Maytech’s state of the art data transfer solutions can help.

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