Wednesday, 14 December 2011

BCS President’s Report December 2011

The month began with the London Mapping Festival, Mapping Showcase event at the Emirates stadium. There must have been about 400 attendees and we, BCS, had a stand. There was a lot of interest shown in the work of the Society so I’m hoping we’ll make that target of 100 new members in 2011. I’ll let you know.

Just to take a step backwards I mentioned in my last report that there was a meeting in Vienna of ICA chairs and vice-chairs of Commissions with the ICA Executive. I gather that meeting was constructive and that there were 7 representatives from the UK out of a total of approximately 50 attendees.  No doubt there will be a full report from David Forrest at the next meeting of the UKCC on 10 January.

Over the last couple of weeks Mary Spence has done a great job updating and creating new marketing material. So there is a new BCS Awards flyer, the first flyer is available for the Symposium in June and there is also a ‘call for papers’ for that event on the website. There is now a Restless Earth flyer too and finally my words for the ‘Why Join BCS’ flyer have been considerably enhanced with the addition of paragraph headings and photographs. All these documents are available for download from the BCS website.

If you wish to go to the UK GEOForum Lecture on 26 January at the RICS in London which is being given by Mike Parker, author of ‘Map Addict’ it would be a good idea to register as soon as you can as seating space at the RICS is limited and this is likely to be a very popular event. Check out our website for more info and to book

Finally may I wish you a Very Happy Christmas and if you are in need of a smile try:

Best Wishes
BCS President

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Guest Blog - Where Should I Go On Holiday Map

Thomson have just launched an interactive graphic which maps out European cities by their climate. They thought it might be of interest to The BCS and the readers of the BCS blog.

It allows users to define which month they would like to travel in, and a temperature and sunlight filter. The map displays places within these criteria along with other data when you hover over them. You can check out the post and the interactive graphic below.

Click image to open interactive version (via Thomson Holidays).

Friday, 25 November 2011

Guest Blog - Paris Metro Map design

In the light of the discussions at the recent GIS SIG seminar, I thought BCS members may be interested in a competition to create a new Paris Metro map. 
I was invited to take part and have been selected as one of the finalists. The overall winner will be selected by popular vote (via Facebook) but I’m not asking for mine to be favoured, I just thought the competition needs as wide an audience as possible. I have the impression it is the sort of thing that may interest the members of the BCS and ICA especially as the last meeting was in Paris.

I would be interested to hear what you and the other members think of the entries:
See the facebook page

And here is the link to the press release:

Mark Noad Design

Saturday, 19 November 2011


Anyone with an interest in maps can join the British Cartographic Society (BCS). You don’t have to be a cartographer; you don’t have to be a map maker. You may just like maps or be involved in the broader mapping industry or design. After all, cartography is an art and that art can be enjoyed and developed by many. The primary role of the BCS is to promote the art of good cartography.

BCS is a broad church with professionals from academia, government, military, business and all shades between. So, you can join BCS as an individual or it may be that corporate membership is more appropriate. Corporate members get a free stand space at the Society’s annual symposium and can submit articles for publication about their products to the Maplines team who edit the Society’s magazine. Individuals can submit articles too.
Maplines is the Society’s magazine and 3 editions are produced each year. The Cartographic Journal has 4 editions a year and is peer reviewed. Consequently it enjoys an international reputation for very high quality articles about all aspects of cartography and is a major source of income for the Society. Cartographiti is the magazine of the Map Curators’ Group (MCG) which usually meets twice a year.

The MCG is just one of 4 Special Interest Groups (SIGs) which are open to Society members and others with a specific interest. The GIS SIG also meets twice a year and concentrates on issues that are of special interest to the expanding GIS community. The Design Group focuses on all aspects of cartographic design, meets twice a year and publishes articles in the Maplines magazine. The Historical Military Mapping Group has a new convener so meetings should resume in the near future.

You cannot promote the art of good cartography without providing some training opportunities. The one day Better Mapping teaching sessions have been running now for over 4 years. First the courses were at a basic level but now there is an advanced course as well. These courses are open to all and take place at various locations around the country several times a year. Attendance at these courses entitles participants to claim CPD points towards Chartered Geographer status or maintain that qualification.


CPD points can also be claimed after participation as a mentor in the BCS Restless Earth programme. The Restless Earth exercises are run for year 10 students at their schools. Presently the scenario is based on the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear incident around Sendai. Students, in teams of 5, are given maps of the area, access to the internet during the 2 hour exercise and tasked with producing a map that will enable the rescue teams and aid agencies to carry out their various humanitarian tasks. This is a really exciting programme. Not only is it a fun exercise to be involved in but more importantly it demonstrates to the students the essential and incredible value of maps, both hard and soft copy, when it comes to disaster management.

The Society runs a Restless Earth exercise alongside the Annual Symposium which is held in June at a variety of locations around the UK. The Symposium also attracts CPD points, lasts 3 days and there are lectures, workshops, SIG meetings and the corporate members are invited to take part in the exhibition. At the Gala Dinner the awards are presented to the winners in some 8 categories. There is also a golf competition for the Golden Ball trophy.

The British Cartographic Society has a lot to offer the membership and continues to develop new ideas and ways of promoting good cartography within the organisation and beyond.

BCS President’s Report November 2011

It’s been quite a busy time. As planned, the GIS SIG, AGM and award ceremony took place in London at the RAF Club on 1 November. The GIS SIG was a great success with attendees learning how and how not to produce schematic maps – the choice of angles, straight lines or curved lines is all important. Also, included in the programme was a brief on the recent ICC in Paris as it’s important that members know how our involvement with the ICA is working. There is a meeting of ICA chairs of commissions in Vienna about now and I have suggested that there should be regular reports on the work of the commissions published in a journal by the ICA. The AGM went well and after it had been concluded I presented Mike Wilburn with the NewMapmaker award sponsored by National Geographic.

The following day, Council met in London at Prospect House. The sales of ‘Cartography – an introduction’ have been so good that it looks as though we’ll have to do a reprint. The Programme Committee is busy putting together the 2012 programme which at the moment includes 4 Restless Earth events at schools and they are beginning to put together the schedule for our Annual Symposium at the Basingstoke Country Hotel from 13-15 June where the theme will be ‘Mapping the Global Village’. Also, I’m delighted to be able to tell you that Dr John Peaty from DGC has volunteered to take over as the convener of the HMMG – thank you John.  After the Council meeting we had the first meeting of the 2013 committee. As you’ll be aware it’s the 50th anniversary of the foundation of BCS in 2013 so we are planning to have a number of special events to celebrate the occasion. So far we have just an outline in the form of an initial calendar of events which we’ll build upon.

The Restless Earth event at Altrincham Boys GS was a great success so much so that we’ve been asked to go back and run the exercise again next year. We were helped by 5 Royal Geographical Society (RGS) ambassadors who are undergraduates at Manchester University. This worked extremely well for all concerned and I hope we’ll be able to call upon support from other RGS ambassadors at future schools events. In our busy start to November, Steer Davies Gleave also hosted our next Better Mapping Seminar in London run by AGI and BCS. As these seminars continue to be so well attended we plan to run more from Spring 2012.

The next major event is the Mapping Showcase on 1 December at the Emirates Stadium under the LMF banner. The UKCC meets on 10 January. We have a BCS stand at the DGI Show in London 24-25 January and the UK GEOForum Annual Lecture is on 26 January at the RICS when the speaker will be Mike Parker.

At the last Council meeting I undertook to write a page entitled, ‘Why Join BCS’. I have done that and it will appear on this blog also. If there is anything you think I should add please leave me a comment. So far this year we’ve attracted about 85 new members and I’d like to see if we can make it 100!  So, perhaps you can use ‘Why Join BCS’ to make this happen. Anyone who applies for membership now will have membership until 31 December 2012 – an ideal Christmas present for someone?!

Best Wishes
BCS President

Monday, 24 October 2011

BCS President’s Report October 2011

The Restless Earth event at Lampton School on 26 September was a great success. My thanks to all who took part and especially the team from DGC led by Peter Jones. Details of the schools which have attended the programme so far are at:  The next Restless Earth event will be at Altrincham Boys’ Grammar School on Wednesday 16 November. If there is anyone in the area who would like to offer assisitance with this event please do contact us.

The UK GEOForum met on 27 September. Two forthcoming events were highlighted, first the Mapping Showcase on 1 December at the Emirates Stadium under the LMF banner and second the UK GEOForum Annual Lecture on 26 January 2012 at the RICS when the speaker will be Mike Parker.
As President of BCS I was invited to lunch in the House of Lords on 7 October but more about that in the next edition of Maplines.  A number of BCS members attended the Frankfurt Book Fair from 11-16 October and we gained a couple of new members during the Fair.

The next major event and an important event is the luncheon, GIS SIG, BCS AGM and Award ceremony at the RAF Club on 1 November. This promises to be a fascinating afternoon with excellent speakers so if you haven’t already registered for the event then please do so. Also, the results of the elections to Council will be announced and the new Council will meet the following day in Prospect House which is near Waterloo station. I’ll let you know about that meeting in my next report.

Also don't forget the next Better Mapping Seminar on November 8th. For next year’s diary our Annual Symposium will be from 13-15 June at the Basingstoke Country Hotel where the theme will be, ‘Mapping the Global Village’. So there is a lot to look forward to!

Best Wishes
Peter Jolly
BCS President

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

BCS President’s Report September 2011

As is usual September began with a flourish. 

The UKCC met in York on Monday 5 September. The main topics raised were: first, the ICC in Paris - David Forrest gave a report on the work of the General Assembly and all had an opportunity to comment on the organisation of the event.  The UK won 2 awards, Best Thematic Map – Ken Field and Best Educational Cartographic Product (Digital) – HarperCollins. Second, there were reports from Commission chairs and vice-chairs and lastly, there was an initial discussion on the UKCC Review. A draft paper has been circulated to Council for comment by 30 September prior to a second draft. In future, details of the UKCC’s work and ICA events, commission reports etc will be posted on the BCS website for all to see. Work on this has already begun.

The following day the Council also met at the same venue. This was a routine meeting covering membership and finance, the UKCC Review, Committee and SIG reports. There was also a discussion about having a lunchtime event for Fellows in the spring next year and that discussion is on-going.
On Wednesday the Map Curator’s Group met and I understand had a very successful meeting. My thanks go to Ann Sutherland, April Carlucci, Anne Taylor and Paula Williams for running and organising the event.

We, BCS, have a stand at the AGI Geocommunity ’11 conference in Nottingham 21-22 September. This will be another opportunity to encourage attendees to join BCS. Over the last 12 months membership has increased significantly, up to 657 compared with 615 at the same time last year and, as a result, in part, the financial position of the Society has strengthened. As well as new members from the UK we have new members from Chile, Nigeria, USA and Australia.

FREE attendance for Year 10s
On Monday, 26 September, the BCS team led by Peter Jones, will be presenting the ‘Restless Earth’ package to the year 10 students at Lampton School, Hounslow, in the morning and about 70 students from other schools in the area in the afternoon. It should be a great day.

The following day the UK GEOForum meets at Canary Wharf to discuss matters of mutual interest to the 15 member societies. These meetings are always useful as we can discuss and debate the common concerns.

Next, the cut-off date for submission of articles for the Winter edition of Maplines is 13 October so please make sure that if you have a contribution to make that Lynda Bailey and her team get the information and photographs etc on time. I should also tell you that Martin Lubikowski has taken over as the chairman of the Publications Committee. Our thanks go to Peter Collier for the work he did as Martin’s predecessor.

November 1 is an important date for your diary. There will be a curry lunch in the RAF Club followed by the GIS SIG. The SIG is open to everyone and is entitled, ‘GIS and Schematic Mapping’. These maps are particularly popular in the transport industry and at the end of the sessions we should know more about their uses, advantages and limitations so please do come and join in. There will also be a report of the recent ICC in Paris by David Forrest which again should be of interest to all. Then it will be time for the AGM at which the election results for Council for the coming year will be announced. Roger Hore will be sending out all the necessary paper work shortly. All booking details are on the BCS website.

So, a busy time for all but very worthwhile.
Best Wishes
Peter Jolly
BCS President

Friday, 12 August 2011

Bad Apples

It was supposed to be a normal day at the office today but after I read my morning diet of geonews feeds I felt compelled to pen a brief blog entry. Those nice people at Apple Inc in Cupertino have only gone and applied for a patent for something they are calling 'schematic maps'. You can read the application here and form your own opinions but for what it's are mine.

What a ridiculous concept! The detail of the application effectively states that any map created using a computer would fall under the patent because every map undergoes the sort of process Apple are trying to patent. While they refer to schematic maps specifically, the detail pretty much refers to the process of cartographic design and production. They talk about methods to select detail from data and present it meaningfully, to make some elements stand out by exaggerating them and to de-emphasise others. This is simply cartographic generalsiation and symbolisation and it's what we do, what anyone does, when making a map to bring the essential characteristics into view. Schematic maps are one form of portrayal that we might end up with in certain circumstances but how can this be patented? In his own blog, Ed Parsons has already provided some thoughts on the issue which he also regards as lunacy. I entirely agree with Ed...the ability for a company to patent something as intangible as a concept (a science, a process etc) is unimaginable. So anyone or any organisation making or publishing a map in the future might have to seek Apple's permission and no doubt pay some royalties. If it didn't have the potential for such manifest consequences it would be laughable.

Any anyway...hasn't it all been done before? 19th Century Marshall Island stick charts are portable forms of navigation that represent geography schematically. Mr Beck's London Underground is perhaps the most famous contemporary example of a schematic map but there are countless others that under this patent would be unpublishable.

While we're discussing Apple's liking for patents it's also worth noting their lockdown on the concept of tablets. Well again they were beaten to it by some considerable distance...Babylonian clay tablets from 2300 B.C. are the earliest forms of mapping on a tablet!

So this idea that large organisations can patent something as ubiquitous as a map (of whatever eventual type) or a concept or method that forms part of the process of cartography is just absurd...of course, if the application is approved it becomes even more absurd!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

BCS President's Report August 2011

I know it’s still July but here are a couple of reminders which might be helpful. 
First, nominations for Council have to be in by 1 August and second, the early-bird bookings for the Map Curators Group meeting in York, 7-9 September have to be made by 1 August too.
Whilst August is a quiet month for events, September is quite the opposite. The UK Cartographic Committee and the BCS Council both meet in York on 5 and 6 September respectively and I’ve already mentioned the MCG meeting at the same location. 
Some BCS members will be going to The IMTA(Americas) event in Palm Springs, 11-14 September. The following week the AGI holds its Annual Conference, 21-22 September in Nottingham. On 26 September we are running the BCS Schools Workshop at Lampton School, Hounslow, for up to 40 teams of 5 students which is both exciting and potentially exhausting!
The following day the UK GEOForum holds its meeting at Canary Wharf. Enjoy a quiet August, if circumstances allow, and I look forward to seeing you at the forthcoming events.
BCS President

Monday, 11 July 2011

BCS President’s Report July 2011

Over 25 members of the BCS attended the International Cartographic Conference in Paris last week. Some of you may have followed events on the BCS website but if you haven’t, for whatever reason and you interested please take a look at the ICC page on the BCS website

Also, many of you will be aware that David Fairbairn has been Secretary General of the ICA for the last 4 years. Whilst there are no direct benefits to BCS having one of our number as Secretary General it certainly raises the profile of our Society in the eyes of the international cartographic community. So David, thank you very much indeed for all the hard work you have done as ICA Secretary General which is greatly appreciated by all members of BCS and I’m sure the international community.

BCS President

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Guest Blog - Wednesday

Conference centre much quieter this morning – perhaps some got more wine at the reception, or afterwards. Heard that some of the UK contingent were very late home, after the metro stopped running. A few brave souls, including ICA President Bill Cartwright, took part in a walk along the Paris meridian, but most found the 6:30 (am!) start a bit too much of a challenge.
There was a series of sessions on Wednesday devoted to National Mapping Agencies which the ICA is increasingly trying to collaborate with. Vanessa Lawrence was in attendance, so we were represented at the highest level.
UK members - Alex Kent, Kenneth Field, Peter Jolly and David Fairbairn
There are about 30 UK delegates as far as I can determine – no delegate list issued so far. This is much smaller than the likes of Germany and several other countries, but we are quite an active contingent.  Peter Jolly is promoting The BCS on the ESRI stand and Maney have a stand also, giving a high profile to The Cartographic Journal. An initiative of the UKCC has been to distribute lapel pins with the Union Jack & French flags to all UK delegates to increase our profile. Most seem to appreciate this gesture. Thanks to Chris Board for funding the pins. 
National delegates and a few others were invited to the German embassy in the evening to promote ICC2013 in Dresden. See photo above of some key members of the UK contingent partaking of German hospitality.

David Forrest PhD FBCart.S
School of Geographical & Earth Sciences
University of Glasgow

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Guest Blog - Use & User Issues and Education

Detailed Programme Synopsis Link
Early start on Tuesday with chairing a session on Use & User Issues at 8:30am – no long lie-ins in Paris! 
With 8 parallel tracks of talks there is always something to choose, although inevitably you really want to be in 2 (or 3) places at once at some times, and find less of interest at others. But there is always the map exhibition or posters to look at. 

Second morning session was one on Education where I was presenting a paper comparing UK and North American approaches to cartographic education. Seems to have been well received and a few people have since expressed interest – and surprise – that there was such a difference. It seems the French emphasis is closer to the US model, but Germany more like the UK. I was not surprised by the later, but had not considered the French emphasis was so much on statistical cartography; it seems this is another influence of Bertin.
The paper following mine was about a new MSc programme in Cartography (yes, ‘Cartography’, not GIS or Geoinformatics) shared by two German & one Austrian university, all taught in English. The major concern to UK universities must be the fee – under 1000 Euros, where our home fee is £5000 and overseas fee £15000.

National Maritime Museum, Paris
The conference reception on Tuesday evening was at the national maritime museum. Lots of fascinating ship models, etc., but much more limited wine and very limited nibbles, given that this was a ticketed event and not included in the registration fee… Good opportunity to network though, so perhaps limited wine was a good thing!

David Forrest PhD FBCart.S 
School of Geographical & Earth Sciences 
University of Glasgow

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Guest Blog - Opening day

The opening ceremony was a very understated affair – no brass bands and dancing girls unlike Chile in 2009. We had welcomes from the president of the Committee France Cartography, from the IGN, from ICA president Bill Cartwright, and from Anne Ruas the conference chair, before launching into the first keynote presentation. Simultaneous translation with a headset that cuts out every couple of seconds is a recipe for a headache - so had to rely on my schoolboy French....
A theme of the conference is a celebration of the work of the renowned Jacques Bertin who died in 2010. His treatise on graphic semiology (symbol systems) forms the basis of much subsequent work in this area and had a major impact on data processing and map design in France and more widely. A keynote on this theme can be found in the ICA special issue of The Cartographic Journal. Two further sessions on Monday afternoon and a panel discussion were also devoted to Bertin. 

The conference centre in Paris is an impressive venue, with excellent facilities and has easy access to the Paris public transport system, so delegates are scattered across the city. We are not a big conference for this centre, so having stood in a long queue to pick up the sandwich lunch, you either stand or sit on the floor to eat it as apparently we do not reach the required threshold to get tables and chairs!

David Forrest PhD FBCart.S
School of Geographical & Earth Sciences
University of Glasgow

Guest Blog - Greetings from a sunny Paris

Following a very successful workshop on User Issues in Geospatial Public Transport Information on Friday & Saturday, the first part of the ICA General Assembly took place on Sunday. This is a somewhat drawn out affair, but necessary to go through the required business and allow national delegates from all the member countries to provide their input.

Voting does not take place at this first part of the GA – that takes place in the second session on Friday when the new president & executive will be elected, commissions voted and the location of the 2015 conference and general assembly decided. There are 2 bids for 2015 – Washington and Rio. The US presentation and brochure was more polished and more directly relevant; the Brazilian presentation and information focuses much more on the tourist appeal. Based on objective criteria, Washington wins hand down, but who wouldn’t want to go to Rio! Friday’s outcome will be interesting.
David Fairbairn

The other significant issue to report is that the UK had to withdraw the nomination of David Fairbairn as Secretary-General for a second four year term. David is very disappointed by this turn of events, but a new head of department made it clear he would get no support and would be expected to devote his time elsewhere. Given these circumstances there was no option but to withdraw. 
Fortunately a nomination has been received from Hungary as this is not a post that could be left unfilled.

Your National Delegate to ICC2011,
David Forrest PhD FBCart.S 
School of Geographical & Earth Sciences 
University of Glasgow

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Public Transport GeoInformation Workshop, Paris

After a lovely sunny few days at IGN, Paris I am now back in London thinking about what will come next for PTI and cartography in the future... I'm looking forward to meeting up with some of the new contacts I've made so here's a little overview of what went on and what's planned next...

The Use and User Issues Commission concentrated this year on Public Transport GeoInformation and as I have been involved in PT mapping my whole career I found it a very informative workshop and gladly welcomed it. Access to mapping for the public has never been higher, and I expect that PT maps are a very large share of the market and yet we have no groups in the UK, or abroad that I'm aware of, that specialise in bringing the commissioners, creators and users of these maps together to collaborate and push the field forward.
Now, after this inaugural workshop I believe we have a better understanding of the wider issues, not just within our own sectors, like academia or commercial, but we can also see how we can use each others strengths to make PT mapping better for the user.
Many thanks to the organisers, BCS Council and Commission Vice President David Forrest, Chair - Corne van Elzakker and IGN/Cogit's Dr Catherine Domingues, as well as the event sponsors Steer Davies Gleave and COGIT.

It was a great success and well received by everyone I spoke to. Delegates arrived from as far away as Brazil, and the European attendance was high, ranging from Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, The Netherlands, UK and France to name a few.

As well as several presentation sessions and demo's over the two days delegates also carried out a user test to more or less success! We were instructed to visit several locations by PT and asked to record the planning and user decisions along the way, to facilitate a discussion on Paris signage and wayfinding facilities. Alex Pucher of University of Vienna is to collate the info and we hope that from the findings we can, as a group, identify some of the main issues in this area for users.
I look forward to seeing and assisting with the next steps in this process and I encourage anyone else with an interest in this area to help us gather this information so we can all learn from it and move the industry forward positively. Please check out the Commission's website where you will be able to see the outcomes of our work and contact us to find out more or participate.

Monday, 13 June 2011

BCS President’s Report June 2011

As you may be aware I was unable to attend the BCS Symposium at Shrigley Hall because, on the Saturday before, my wife dislocated her right hip whilst flying a kite on White Horse Hill. She has now written all her ‘thank you’ letters to the emergency services including the air ambulance and is walking slowly around the house.
From all the reports I have heard this morning and during the Symposium the event at Shrigley Hall was a great success with attendance slightly up from last year. My sincere thanks must go to the Programme Committee for putting together such a varied and interesting programme, to the speakers, and especially Dr Peter Barber for delivering the Helen Wallis Lecture. My thanks also go to our sponsors: Autodesk, Esri UK, Victoria Litho, Cadcorp, Bentley, Ordnance Survey, Europa Technologies, STAR-APIC, Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson, PvPubs, Global Mapping, Newgrove Consultants and Steer Davies Gleave for their support. My congratulations to all the Award winners and, in particular, to Global Mapping winners of the BCS Award with their entry ‘The Environmental World’. Finally, the winner of the Golden Ball golf trophy was Andy Wilson from Victoria Litho with 39 points – well played.
The major event in July is the International Cartographic Conference in Paris 4-8 July. Unfortunately, the universities and the Royal Society have withdrawn their financial support for this event and, exceptionally, this year BCS has provided extra funding for participants at the request of the UK Cartographic Committee (UKCC). I look forward to reading the reports from all the beneficiaries in the winter edition of Maplines. In the light of these recent UKCC funding issues there will be a review of the operation/work of the UKCC. 

In September the Map Curators Group meets in York from 7-8 September. Prior to that meeting the UKCC will meet on 5th and Council on 6th. Remember too to keep an eye on events associated with the London Mapping Festival.

Oh, and just a gentle reminder to anyone who hasn’t paid their subscription that it would be helpful if that was received before the end of June. I’ll write my next email report after the meetings at the beginning of September and in the meantime I hope you all enjoy a sunny and happy summer break.
Best Wishes
Peter Jolly
BCS President

Sunday, 12 June 2011

BCS Symposium 2011 - The Power of the Image DAY 2

Day 2 talks now available on the BCS website at Presentations

The first session - Speciality Mapping helped to highlight the research being carried out by not only universities but our very own Ordnance Survey as well, into non-visual or vision deficiency in location based products.

The imaginative ways highlighted really gave us something to think about how our maps are perceived by these users, and how we can integrate our mapping with these researched methods to assist users, and open up location navigation to a wider audience.

Workshop sessions then followed including Cartographic Surgery with Global Mapping, Understanding INSPIRE with AGI and RSW Geomatics, Making Sense of Statistics on Maps with Giles Darkes,  Create your own 3D city model without sticky-back plastic with Autodesk, and a Visit to Macclesfield Silk Museum.
A great lunch was sponsored by some of our supporting corporate members including Autodesk, Bentley, Cadcorp, ESRI, Europa Technologies, Ordnance Survey, Victoria Litho, GISPro, Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson, STAR-APIC, Global Mapping, Newgrove Consultants and Steer Davies Gleave.

At 2pm the second talks session of the day started endeavouring to answer Where are we now?.
Both Europa Technologies and Steer Davies Gleave presented slides to provoke us in thinking about the new open data available and how we can use it to create cartographic products for our users. Encouraging more integration with media files and new technology was a key theme. Dr David Fairbairn, from ICA, then summarised how the ICA have developed commissions and workshops to carry out research work and indicated concrete results from the efforts of cartographers around the world in advancing the discipline.

A busy day of lectures and workshops was then concluded with The Helen Wallis lecture, this year given by Peter Barber (Head of British Library Map Collections, and curator of the British Library's fascinating exhibition Magnificent Maps) on The Map as Symbol.
From depictions on coins and medals right through to grand world maps in royal palaces, a map has appeared on objects from very early beginnings to act a status symbol - just take a look at the size of  Charles II's The Klencke Atlas opposite. Pictured here with Peter.
Curator of Magnificent Maps - Power, Propaganda and Art

Saturday, 11 June 2011

BCS Symposium 2011 - The Power of the Image

After a successful three days at Shrigley Hall Hotel, Nr Macclesfield we're now almost recovered and settling back into not as sumptuous surroundings!

To start us off we held the Schools Workshop : Restless Earth for year 10 students from the local area. Following an astonishing amount of responses to attend we managed to facilitate two sessions about the Japanese Earthquake for a total of 12 schools! We hope they enjoyed it and we seem to have had some great feedback and a few calls for us to expand the session to the rest of their students... Well done team who organised that one, looks like we'll need a resource pack for the future. 
(Past review from 2010 available here)

Photography by Martin Lubikowski @MartinMLDesign

The GIS special interest group gathered in the afternoon to hear talks on 3D GIS - Exploring the capabilities of GIS for the visualisation of land, air, sea and subterranean environments from Google, British Geological Survey, Luciad, Seppe Cassetari from Geoinformation Group and Dr Kenneth Field from ESRI.
We've come away from it with a much more illuminated feeling of how such 3D GIS is used from below our feet, right up into the sky!


More to follow on the rest of the Symposium shortly...

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

About Cartography...

Some new posts and links on the BCS website under the About Cartography/Carto-topics section

Hasn't everywhere been mapped already?

What is it like to be a cartographer?

and links to interesting ESRI blogs

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Your smart phone knows where!

So, it transpires that the gadget we all love to love or love to hate is up to its old tricks again and researchers have discovered that it is keeping track of where you are going. Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan have made this shocking discovery, presented it today at Where 2.0 in San Jose and it's been picked up on blogs and social media sites worldwide as well as in The Guardian.

It seems like an update in June 2010 set the phone to automatically capture a time stamped location and store it in a secret file and whilst there is no suggestion that the data is uploaded to Apple's servers, it seems people are getting hysterical about their beloved phone capturing information. You can read more about the find here and here but is this really a story worth getting heated about?

So the phone captures and stores locational data. Great! Isn't that precisely how Location Based Services work (as @edparsons pointed out on Twitter)? Without an ability to locate itself, the device has no means of positioning relative to anything. Perhaps the fact the 'find' wasn't widely known is the problem here and certainly if we own such devices we should be aware of what it is they are doing. The conspiracy mongers certainly enjoy this sort of thing but...why is capture and storage of such data a problem for so many? The crux of the complaints seems to centre on the fact that if the data fell into the wrong hands they could work out where you had been. Startling! So if you 'lose' your phone or it is 'stolen' then some bright hacker who is interested in where you went could find out. I am quite sure there are some who wish this information to be kept private but the instances where this might be a problem are limited to say the least.

What is of interest here though is the fact that revealing a location seems to be at the top of so many people's concerns. Wait a moment though...doesn't a phone store much more sensitive information. What about your contacts list (including those who prefer to be ex-directory)? What about the call log? What about the SMS history? What about the automatic login to your social media accounts? What about your web search history? Your phone is designed to capture and store a log of virtually all its functions so why shouldn't it also capture and store location? The real issue here is people don't really know what to do with such data yet so they are worried by its collection. I don't disagree that having a setting to turn off such collection would be useful (like erasing your search history) but if we change our mindset to it being just another useful smartphone feature then we can harness the information rather than be wary of it.

If we expand the issue a little wider we can see how the hysteria surrounding the iPhone is even more baffling. How many of those raising concerns have store loyalty cards for instance? Every time you buy petrol, each time you shop, every time you use it to claim rewards points you are providing a location. This is volunteered because you signed up for it. It's stored and the organisations make use of that data. If you are REALLY concerned that your iPhone is tracking you...perhaps you want to think about all the other tracking that is going on around you.

The moral here is simply not to lose your phone...but for us carto geeks it presents a fascinating insight into patterns of movement that you can track and map in space and time. Warden and Allen have provided an application to help people look at the 'hidden' data. I'd have a go myself...but I own an Android device and unless it's doing things I'm not aware of I'm not so lucky as to have such a rich dataset to play with.

Poll Mapping for Earth Day

When Earth Day started in 1970 in the United States, probably very few could imagine the impact of technology not only on the environment (both good and bad) but also on the world of mapping. Where once, printed atlases were just about the only means of exploring environmental issues now, live web maps offer a window on the mashed up world we live in.

For Earth Day 2011, the Mapping Center team at Esri have developed a web map app that invites the global population to think about how they might prioritise resources to help protect the Earth. Building on the success of their series of successful FanMaps, the team have built an Earth Day PollMap where users can allocate a notional $100 across several pressing environmental themes such as climate change, sea level rise or population growth. The map builds on ArcGIS Server technology via the ArcGIS Javascript API.

The map was launched on 20th April and how it is used is something of an experiment...who looks at the map, who contributes, where do they come from and can we discern regional patterns in priorities?

Check it out, have a vote and think a little about Earth Day!
Click here for the Esri PollMap Earth Day Edition

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Mapping for decision making

With Japan suffering their most severe crisis in the past 65 years since World War II, how can modern technology help with the aftermath of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake suffered on Friday and the subsequent monstrous tsunamis?

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan stated "I strongly believe that we can get over this great earthquake and tsunami by joining together." So by joining together all the information gathered during and after the events can we also help in a humanitarian role and help make decisions that will make a real difference?

The number of people whose whereabouts are unknown currently exceeds 10,000 and Google have created a resource that incorporates many of their integrated businesses and their 'person finder' is to be commended. The BBC have also created a map which incorporates the mulit-media collated during the last few days.
However more casualties are now feared as the nuclear reactors along the east coast of Japan are under threat and have already started to fail.

Thanks to mapping from The International Nuclear Safety Centre and the Tectonics Observatory (using USGS earthquake catalogue from 2000 to 2008, magnitude of 5.0 M and above data) you get a visual which highlights the worrying fact that there are many nuclear reactors on high magnitude earthquake zones.

Large image at

With the Austrian and German governments already calling for stress tests across nuclear power stations in Europe, how much influence will this map have on future decisions on nuclear power?

Friday, 18 February 2011

Maps... in Dubai?

With a friend having reloacted out in Dubai in July last year, trying to send her cards for birthday and Christmas proved difficult as she reported back that although her flat was in a well established area of Dubai, near the Mall, her postman was never able to locate her. It is routine that you have to draw a hand sketched map of where you live and hand it over to Karama Central Post Office so that the postie can use it to find you!
"Stores often include a form for drawing a map to your home to avoid confusion". Source:

I've been told that it's due to so many new roads being built and therefore it is very difficult to find your way around... Well now that RTA (Roads&Transport Authority) has published some bus maps does this mean the residents of Dubai will have a network to rely on?

"The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has started displaying improved and easy to read bus routes, network maps and timetables at the bus stops and main bus stations across the emirate."

That one on the right looks familiar 'ey? (See TfL's London Corridor Route Diagrams)

Imagine Peace 2011...on a map

You may have seen it's Yoko Ono's 78th birthday today and she's posted a message of hope for world peace and used a map to express how many people have visited the Imagine Peace website
It's an impressive coverage of the world, however I thought it would be more useful if it were overlaid with the urban areas so you can more realistically see where people live to get an understanding on the blank spaces on her map. OK, so the polar regions are pretty obvious, as are some of the deserts, but it would be good to show that Australia, is heavily supporting her as are Canada... They're just not heavily populated in those areas that dominate such a map!
With the addition of the Urban Sprawl Data from Digital Chart of the World in red, you can now see that areas in central Africa, like the Congo are inhabited but are missing the white dot of activity on the website, unsurprisingly, and that areas in the middle east, North Korea and eastern China are also lacking those white dots. A larger image is available to view here:
What other data layers do you think may add to the interpretation of this type of global data?

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