Ordnance Survey has operated a Mapping for Emergencies Service since 1988 following the Lockerbie Bomb disaster. The service provides a 24 x 7 help-line through which designated authorities dealing with responses to a wide range of civil contingencies can request mapping and geographical information to support early response. The information is delivered free of charge to the requester either directly, or through members of Ordnance Survey's High Street network of specialist Mapping and Data Centres and Licensed Partner community. The information may be in digital or hard copy form. Some pre-processing, analysis or combination with other data may be undertaken to provide the Emergency Responders with information best suited to the needs of the situation they face.
Recent examples of service provision include mapping to support management of exclusion zones for animal disease control, police operations in connection with the Ipswich murder cases, civil contingency operations connected with the beaching of the container vessel MSC Napoli, and in response to the summer flooding in the south-west midlands.
From 1999, the costs of the service were funded through the National Interest Mapping Services Agreement (NIMSA). Since NIMSA ended in December 2006, Ordnance Survey has received no direct funding for the service, which has been supported from its general trading revenue.