We all know that maps are pretty useful things. A weekend adventure in the Lake District, the sat nav in your car and many of our public services all rely on using maps or Geographic Information (GI). Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote about how Cardiff City Council is using GI to save a healthy £1.3m by reorganising their bus routes.
But the other day I started thinking about some more unusual uses for maps – the wacky, the bizarre or the inspired. And I was reminded of someone who loved maps so much they had wallpapered their toilet with them! I’m sorry to say we can’t find any trace of them or their toilet (if that person was you, get in touch!) but it prompted me to ask ‘what are the most unusual uses for maps?’
So, we put the question to our wonderful twitter followers who came up with these fantastic examples of map decor and clothes. Can you think of any others?
Maps as clothes
This fetching OS Landranger Map shirt is modelled by Alan Parkinson, also known as @GeoBlogs
Our own example comes in the form of the now (in)famous OS MasterMap jacket and tie!
Maps as wallpaper
There has been a bit of media coverage around in the last couple of week about some research we’re supporting at Cardiff University. It’s called Peoples’ Place Names, and they’re studying what’s known as Vernacular Geography.
What I might think of as the East End of London, or Shirley in Southampton, might be completely different from the next person, or at least different in ways I don’t realise. And that can still be the case even when a place has official boundaries.
For people that live or work in these places, the boundaries are often a matter of strong and passionate opinion. Have you ever met someone who, upon selling their house, was adamant that they didn’t live in a particular part of town?
You might have read my blog on Wessex Archaeology’s finds at our new head office, describing the Bronze Age Farm that was once on our Southampton site…while chatting with the team, based on the outskirts of Salisbury, I discovered just how much they rely on our data, both on paper and in numerous electronic formats. Talking to Paul Cripps, Geomatics Manager at Wessex Archaeology (WA), I discover that their mapping interests run from historic mapping to OS OpenData and a whole range in between.
Much of WA’s work is spatial, finding out how things relate to each other. From historic buildings to excavations to the marine environment, mapping is fundamental to everything WA do. But they don’t just use it as a backdrop, they add information about their excavations and finds too and attach that to their mapping. I was surprised to find that the historic mapping is not only needed to understand change through time but to ensure the accurate interpretation of aerial photography amongst other things; it is not always easy to work out what is shown in an aerial photograph alone and the feature may not be shown on more modern maps, a second world war bunker on a disused airfield can look very similar to a Roman fort from the air!
Last week I wrote about an expedition to resurvey the height of Tryfan using modern GPS technology – the same technology the Ordnance Survey uses to map the country. Well, it was a great success and here is an account from John, Graham and Myrddyn. You can also watch an interview with our very own Mark Greaves on the BBC website.
The morning began dark and grey as we drove into the car park at Ogwen cottage, dark because it was just after 5am and grey because a fine drizzle had fallen on the valley.
Over the past year or so, I’ve been working with a group people who are on a quest to rewrite the map of Great Britain.
John Barnard, Graham Jackson and Myrddyn Phillips have been tirelessly climbing some of the country’s most famous peaks and measuring their heights using state-of-the-art GPS equipment. In doing so they have helped create mountains where once there were mere hills, and vice versa of course!
OS Explorer Maps – the beginning
The iconic OS Explorer Map, used daily by thousands of people from ramblers to rock climbers and named by the Design Council as an official millennium product, has a fascinating history. Did you know, for example, that it wasn’t until 2005 that the whole of Great Britain was covered, including remote areas of the Scottish Highlands?
1:25 000 was born
Simon Fitzgerald, CIFAS Programme & New Developments Manager, was very enthusiastic about the release of OS OpenData, and downloaded OS Street View, Boundary Line and Code Point Open for the London Boroughs as soon as the service went live. Using a freely available open source Geographic Information System, Simon set about loading elements of the fraud data that CIFAS collects from its Member organisations spread across the financial services sector and beyond.
I’m now back in Britain having spent the last few months in Haiti working for MapAction, supporting the earthquake reconstruction work. I left with change in the air. Clouds have now moved into what was a clear sky, rain is getting increasingly frequent, almost every night, and there’s a breeze that can almost be described as cool (although unfortunately, it didn’t penetrate the canvas of our tents).
In light of the imminent rainy season and the hurricane season that will follow shortly afterward, efforts at recovery have almost been put on a back burner in favour of risk management and avoidance, as preparations (call it a battening down of hatches) are made to get through the next 4 or 5 months.
There is a genetic disorder that affects up to 10% of men and about 0.5% of women. It impacts on their daily lives, often making the simple everyday tasks difficult and crushes the dreams of budding pilots and wannabe coast guards everywhere. Yes, it’s colour blindness. But for something that is experienced by a sizable minority of the population, colour blindness seems to play a relatively small role in the design process. Think weather forecasts, snooker and, yes, maps. The traditional rainbow of cartographic colours – greens for vegetation, reds for main roads and footpaths, and blue for motorways and rivers – can become indistinguishable, therefore making map reading really difficult
Today is a big day in our history with the launch of OS OpenData, giving more access to free, unrestricted Ordnance Survey mapping than ever before. You can read more about the service and the products available in our news release.
Today’s launch is the result of a huge amount of work by a great number of people both here at Ordnance Survey, in government and elsewhere, including Professor Nigel Shadbolt at the University of Southampton and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web. To understand a little more about the project and how OS OpenData fits into the wider work of the ‘Making Public Data Public’ initiative, Nigel and Sir Tim made a film whilst here in Southampton for our recent Terra Future conference.
Keen to know what everyone thinks of the service, although please be patient with it!
Update – May will see OS VectorMap District added to OS OpenData. There are sample tiles and data available now on our website.