Category: Uncategorized

The Greatest story ever told…

OK maybe not, but the development of OpenStreetMap as told by its founding father, Steve Coast is going to be a great read. A truly game changing event in the mapping industry, the project has always attracted strong characters as contributors and in as much as it’s possible to say leaders.

The story of how and why the project took off will be of interest to industry insiders, OSM’ers themselves and to any interested in, after wikipedia, perhaps the most well known product of the wisdom of the crowds.

Steve has his Kickstarter page here, publication if funded is scheduled for next summer.

Who knows in a few years this could be a successful Broadway Musical !


VGI Motivation by Helicopter !

A common topic of discussion when the topic of Volunteered  Geographic Information ( hate the term but it’s was academics use) is motivation. Why expend your precious time adding a missing road to OpenStreetMap or Google Map Maker, why add a review of a Hotel to TripAdvisor ?

Clearly there is the desire to fill in the blank space on the map, or to vent your frustration at poor service when reviewing a restaurant, but are there other forms of motivation that might increase participation ?

Well here is a old favourite,  provide a review of London Business and you might win a trip over London in a helicopter, and believe me that really is an amazing experience.

Thanks for the memories, Terminal 1

One of my earliest memories as a child was flying, then still a little glamorous, to Belfast to see my mothers family. This I guess was in the mid 1970’s and was the first time I visited Heathrow’s Terminal 1.

Terminal 1 in the mid-1970s Photo : Steve Johnson


Early this month I visited the terminal for the last time, most airlines have already moved across to the new Terminal 2, and the British Airways flight I often take to Dublin is moving to Terminal 5 at the end of the month.

I took the opportunity to take a few photo’s to record the last days of Terminal 1.

Thanks for the memories, the long walks, slow moving security lines, the waits for arriving passengers to pass and allow mysterious doors to be opened and for being a gateway to world !

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Beyond the Selfie Stick..

Having spent the last few days in the tourist hotspot of Florence, it’s clear that the mobile gadget of the year is the selfie stick, a telescopic stick with a mount for your smartphone to take the perfect selfie beyond arms length.

It’s seems that you have not visited somewhere or taken part in any activity without the accompanying selfie  and it’s only a matter of time before Samsung and Apple start putting more effort in the front facing camera that they do with the traditional one.

The ultimate selfie however may come from a relative of this prototype.. the Nixie.

The Nixie is a personal photography drone,  and finalist in the Intel wearable technology contest, and is brilliant in two ways..  As an example of user centered product design and secondly as a insight into the potential legal and privacy concerns that will come when micro UAV’s become our personal companions.

I’ve already played with this cheap toy, much to the annoyance of the rest of my family.. imagine in the near future when the streets of Florence are swarming with them !

Scrappy GIS tutorial

Scrappy Server RackThis weekend I have had the pleasure of taking part in the European GIS Education Symposium at University College Cork.

I organised a workshop on Scrappy GIS, using simple web mapping tools in this case Google Maps Engine Lite to teach the concepts of GIS, without needing a GIS !

The tutorial is online here and should take around an hour to complete. It could form a great introduction to GIS at any level, and is of course a bit scrappy itself !

Scrappy is popular approach at Google, building simple and cheap tools from what you have to hand rather than waiting for the ideal solution, the famous Lego rack used for Google’s first server is the classic example of the approach.

Now I’m off to find a pint of Beamish..

Upcoming Specialist Meeting on Spatial Search..

The University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) is hosting a specialist meeting on Spatial Search, the call for papers ends on September 20th and proposals are requested on three topics..

  • Computational: What are the current computing challenges in spatial search? What are the limits of spatial indexing?
  • Geospatial: What kinds of spatial search are utilised in the geo-spatial domain?
  • Cognitive: What do we know about how humans conceptualise and perform information searches and how space helps?

It’s good to see GI Science addressing this topic as it offers great potential in a post SDI age..