With the summer holidays well underway, lots of us are looking forward to loading up the car and hitting the road.
But a survey we carried out of just over 2000 people reveals that while the children in the back seat are screaming “are we nearly there yet?” millions of us will be driving round in circles.
Our results show that two thirds of the population admit to regularly getting lost, a figure that soars to nearly eight out of ten in London, and that 38% of us Brits pretend to know where they are going even when we’ve got no idea!
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
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
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
People ‘in the know’ when it comes to geography often talk about ‘raster’ and ‘vector’ mapping, but sometimes they forget that to ordinary people, these terms are pretty mysterious. So, I thought it would be useful, as part of our posts around GI explained, to try and describe the difference.
OK, this is the easier of the two to explain. A raster map is basically a ‘dumb’ electronic map image made up of a set number of pixels. You can’t manipulate the information, move a place name around for example, and when you zoom into the map, it quickly becomes pixellated and unreadable, just like a photo taken on a digital camera. This extract from an OS Landranger Map is an example of raster mapping – full of detail and great if all you want to do is navigate or perhaps overlay some other information, like a walking route or flood plain.
Right, now things get a little more complicated so bear with me. A vector map, like OS MasterMap, is basically a database of points, lines and polygons which collectively make up all the features on the map. It’s possible to assign each of these features extra information – perhaps demographic data and the age of the buildings for example. Using a Geographic Information System, or GIS, it’s then possible to do all kinds of analysis. For instance, you could ask the GIS to highlight only the buildings older than 50 years, with inhabitants aged between 30 and 40 living within 10 miles of a certain point. It’s the ability to do this kind of analysis that makes vector mapping such a powerful decision making tool.
I hope that makes sense. If you’ve got any questions, or can think of better explanations, please let me know!