september 2009 archives

Friday, September 11, 2009

Whose map is this anyway?

Yesterday's paper edition of the free newspaper Spits carried an article about the Dutch roots of Manhattan on page 5, illustrated with a map of Lower Manhattan, highlighting City Hall, Wall Street, Fraunces Tavern, and Whitehall Street. Although merely the locations and snapshots of these locations were added on top of what is clearly a screenshot of Google Maps, the copyright notice on the map remarkably reads GRAPHIC: 20090909 © SP!TS. All in all, there's no reference to either Google Maps or Tele Atlas for sure!

Spits newspaper uses Google Maps.

Neither Google or Tele Atlas would ever go and take Spits to court over this copyright infringement, would they? The online proliferation of Google Maps makes it seem as if maps come for free and the Google Maps API automatically inserts a copyright statement. Surely, the Google Maps ToS and Tele Atlas EULA also allow you to make some prints for personal use, but to me this is definitely taking the mickey out of copyright law. Is online mapping now changing people's attitude to copyright on maps and geographic data?  permanent link for this entry

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

SoC Summer School, day 3

After last night's Ceilidh, it was a very thoughtful gesture of the organising committee to have the morning programme start a half an hour later than yesterday. Peter Miller from ITO World started the morning session with a thought-provoking review of the information stream bus passengers typically find at a bus stop (big advertising posters put up by JCDecaux and small time table leaflets from the local public transport company) and how this can be skewed towards a more useful information transfer, i.e. user-centric and location-centric travel information. Since I have found myself to take snapshots of curious situations concerning cycle paths after Peter's previous presentation at the SOTM conference in Amsterdam, I am not quite sure how his presentation today will influence my photography habits.

Cyclepath on Glen Eyre Halls Complex.

The other two presentations from Martin and Lambertus focused on using OSM data for route calculation. A great lesson to take away from their presentations, was that a quircky route is not always a bad thing, as it helps to improve the underlying OSM data.

Steve Chilton's talk about his recent trip to Antigua as a result of the Pledgebank appeal after last year's SOTM conference was certainly the highlight of the afternoon. Of particular interest were his observations about some of the issues he had to deal with that he would never have thought about beforehand. For example, why would people living along the main road of the island use any other name than Main Road to refer to that road? Also, he was quickly able to account for the name change of Boggy Peak to Mount Obama to honour the electoral victory of Barack Obama in the US presidential elections.

All in all, today was yet another succcessful day of an altogether successful conference! It was a great opportunity to discuss with other delegates about stuff put forward in some of the presentations or about completely different topics that were on our minds. For example, would crowdsourced geographic data be underpinning the majority of applications in the near future, leaving OS and the likes of Tele Atlas and Navteq catering only for some small niche markets with just their top-of-the-bill clients such as the utility companies, security and emergency services, and automative manufacturers?  permanent link for this entry

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

SoC Summer School, day 2

Wrapping up another mind-buzzing day here in Southampton after the second day of the SoC 45th Summer School. Started off this morning with a session about crowd-/cloudsourcing from GeoFabrik, Webmapper and ITO, which was matched by another session later this morning that focused on Ordnance Survey, its OpenSpace API, and Geovation, innovation centered around geography. OS likened the Geovation challenge to Goldcorp, that gave away all its data about mining and asked the crowd to find profitable areas to mine. Interesting to see how this is going to take off.

The afternoon was full of workshops on Google MyMaps, OS OpenSpace and OSGB Web Map Tools, and OpenLayers. The OSGB Web Map Tools is basically an approach to run OpenSpace off your own servers using open source technology (PostGIS, GeoServer, Tomcat, OpenLayers).

During the evening, there was a drinks reception, the annual dinner and the Ceilidh. According to a long-standing tradition, there was a small competition guessing the duration of Steve Chilton's speech, which was won by Bill Cartwright!  permanent link for this entry

Monday, September 07, 2009

SoC Summer School, day 1

Just a brief note from Southampton, where I am currently attending the Society of Cartographers 45th Annual Summer School. Yesterday, we started with a great session about Emergency Mapping. Keir Clarke from Google Maps Mania started off and brought up an interesting discussion, that immediacy is more important than accuracy for most online mapping applications. He also felt, that immediacy is often hampered by copyright issues, but crowdsourcing may provide a strategy to circumvent these.

Also, check out MapAction. They are sort of a Cartographes sans Frontiers and go out to assist relief organisations and governments to map disaster areas.

In the afternoon, I finally had the opportunity to hear about Legible London, a new pedestrian wayfinding system to help people walk around the Capital. Having just passed through Schiphol airport, an icon in wayfinding, designed by Buro Mijksenaar, it was great to learn about the process the people at Applied Information Group went through to create this wayfinding system. Jonathan Rez, Senior Strategist at FWDesign, made the interesting observation, that from a users' perspective, it is not about wayfinding, but thingfinding. First, you are looking for something, and then you find out where you can get it (although not necessarily from the authoritative source, but from someone else in the cloud). Another observation from Jonathan that brought a smile on my face was his reference to wayshowing, instead of wayfinding. If you are the expert putting up the signs, you are not finding the way, but showing it, right?  permanent link for this entry