Mapping for Changing Reality

By Paul Naylor

The British Cartographic Society (BCS) and the Society of Cartographers (SoC) joint conference recently got underway at the Redworth Hall Hotel in Durham. After months of careful planning and organisation the stage was set for three days of inspirational presentations, hands-on workshops and the annual BCS/SoC awards ceremony.

Maps for Changing Reality 2017. Photo by Martin Lubikowski

Day one

Events got underway with a free half-day workshop hosted and sponsored by Verisk Analytics. The workshop, Urban Cartography in 3 and 4D was led by Tom Timms and focused on exploring the challenges of mapping urban space in two, three and four dimensions.

In the evening, Philip Hatfield from the British Library gave the Helen Wallis Memorial Lecture entitled ‘From the Arctic to the Euston Road: Digital Maps at the British Library’. His talk gave an interesting insight into how the library is working with various forms of digital maps from the institutions historic and contemporary collections.

This was followed by the OS-sponsored quiz where four OS Maps subscriptions were up for grabs to the winning team.

Day two

The next day saw the main conference kick off, with a full day of presentations and workshops to look forward to.

The topics included Indigenous Cartography, Historical Mapping and Current Affairs and included an interesting talk from Claire Thomson from the National Library of Scotland. Claire spoke about the restoration process needed to conserve a 17th Century map found up a chimney by a property developer in Aberdeen, where it was being used to stop a draught. There are only two other known copies of this map in existence and it was produced by a Dutch engraver named Gerald Valck. An interesting video on the restoration of ‘The Chimney Map’ can be found here.

Day two concluded with the Gala Dinner and Award Ceremony where James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti were crowned winners of the BCS award for their entry ‘Where the Animals Go’.

James Cheshire receiving the BCS award from Alex Kent. Photo by Martin Lubikowski

This is a fascinating book charting and mapping a data-driven portrait of how animals navigate the world. Some of the visualisations are incredible and it is a worthy winner.

Day three

Day three saw another excellent programme of presentations and workshops with topics covering Topographic Mapping, Mapping our Planet and Data Visualisation. I opened the Data Viz talk session with my presentation ‘Cartographic Design to GeoDataViz – an evolution’ where I discussed how geographic data is being used in new and innovative ways and how our team has adapted to meet these changes. You can read more here.

Sandwiched in between these talk sessions was the map debate where two panels argued over whether the S Bahn Berlin Map was a map or diagram. This was a great debate that threw up some interesting concepts and assumptions on what makes a map a map or indeed a diagram.

I would be keen to hear your own views on this so please do continue the conversation by leaving a response at the bottom of this blog post.

1931 S-Bahn Map

Gary Gale closed the conference with a presentation looking at where the map ends and the visualisation starts, treating us to an in depth look at some interesting geographic data visualisations and some poor ones too!

The conference was another huge success and work has begun already on next year’s conference which will, for the first time, be held in London and billed as the UK Mapping Festival.

If you would like to know more about either society, the event itself or have any ideas for what you would like to see included at the UK Mapping Festival 2018 then please feel free to get in touch via email: cartodesign@os.uk

Don’t forget if you have any questions about cartographic design, data visualisation, geographic data or anything else map related then you can use #cartoclinic on Twitter to reach a wealth of experts from both Ordnance Survey and the British Cartographic Society.

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