Tuesday, 4 March 2014

BCS President’s Monthly Bulletin February 2014

In January’s bulletin I set a question to identify the image below. Congratulations go to Stephen Low of Ordnance Survey, who correctly identified it as a gravity scar caused by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake as revealed by observations from ESA’s GOCE satellite. The effects of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake are clearly visible in GOCE’s gravity data, showing how the movement of rock and other material tens of kilometers below the surface causes small changes in the local gravity.

The Great East Japan Earthquake is still the subject of our Restless Earth Schools Programme, which continues to flourish. We have a total of 23 workshops arranged for this academic year and have already taken several bookings for next year, when we hope to be rolling out a GIS based version. This year, for the first time, BCS will have a stand at the Geographic Association Annual Conference and Exhibition at the University of Surrey from 14th to 16th April. As well as having a stand, we will also be running a Workshop at the Conference, so if you are attending make sure that you come along to Workshop 42 on the Wednesday morning. We anticipate that this will generate a lot of interest in Restless Earth, so we will be looking for more volunteers to help us run these in the future.

I set the Society the target of getting to 700 members last year and although we didn’t quite make it we have now, passing the 700 mark in early February. My next target is to get up to 750 by the end of 2014, so if you have friends or colleagues who are not yet members sign them up! This shows the Society to be in very good health with numbers continuing to climb across a good spread of the broader cartographic industry.

Do you know your ‘Stans’? Could you have identified it on the map if Kazakhstan hadn't been plastered right across it? The President of Kazakhstan is worried that we don’t and that his country is getting mixed up with others ‘inferior’ countries in the region. President Nursultan Nazarbayev is ready to do something about the problem and has suggested the idea of dropping the "stan" from Kazakhstan's name. The idea is to help the massive country stand out from its neighboring former Soviet republics in Central Asia. He suggested a name like "Kazakh Eli", which translates to The Land of the Kazakhs because that "would be more eye-catching for a foreigner studying the region's map."

Symposium 2014

Planning for this year’s Symposium is now well advanced and the booking form will soon appear on the BCS website, so keep an eye out for it. This year we are going to be at the Marwell Hotel and Conference Centre just south of Winchester and for the first time we will be holding it as a joint event with the International Map Industry Association (IMIA). The Symposium will begin on Tuesday with a joint session organised by the GIS and Design SIGs running a ‘Mapathon’ to produce a map in a day. We are hoping to attract lots of innovative new cartographers and it is the intention that the winning map at the end of the day will be used to support a UK charity. In the evening we also have a guest speaker from the RAF, explaining their role in using aerial photography to support the flood relief activities in Southern England. The full Symposium sessions follow on Wednesday and Thursday, including a mix of presentation and workshops and a visit to the Ordnance Survey offices in Southampton. And if you are a golfer then don’t miss the opportunity to play for The President’s Golden Ball Trophy. This year we will be at East Horton Golf Club, just a couple of miles from the Symposium venue, so even if you can’t make all of the Symposium, please join us on Friday for the sporting spectacular.

BCS Awards

The process for submitting your maps for the BCS awards is now live online at the BCS Website. There were some issues with the Awards process last year and we have totally revamped the process to ensure that we know what is going to be submitted and can track the submission of the entries ahead of the closing date at the end of April. So if you have produced something notable in the last 12 months please submit it for one or more of the Awards. Final judging will take place at Google’s London offices on 27th May and we are very grateful to Ed Parsons for agreeing to host us. The winners of the Awards will be announced at the Symposium Gala Dinner on Wednesday 25th June.

ICA Map Carte Selections for February

Did some of your ancestors go west and settle in the US? Then this map might be useful to help to find out where they may have ended up. This map achieves one of the key design considerations of being very clear and simple, whilst still conveying several pieces of information. The map shows the top 25 surnames in each state. They are sized by their magnitude in the same way as a proportional symbol to show quantitative information. Additionally, colour is used to denote the origin country so patterns of historic migration are easy to spot. All I can say is that there are an awful lot of Joneses, right across the continent! The zoomable version on the National Geographic website is the best way to view http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/02/geography/usa-surnames-interactive.

As well as location, population density is also implied through the general distribution and size of the names with the most densely packed and largest being located in urban areas and the more populated states.

The other selection that I particularly liked from February’s selection was the ‘Crossworld’ Map. A simple idea and a well crafted design with clues that broadly fit the locations of their position on the map.


To see the latest maps to be posted, visit the ICA MapCarte site at: http://mapdesign.icaci.org/category/mapcarte/

A-Z Maps – The Musical

I hope you caught this item on the BBC News website. The article was triggered by a new musical looking at the life of Phyllis Pearsall, called “The A-Z of Mrs P”. Phyllis was the founder of A-Z maps and the BCS gained some useful publicity as I had been contacted by the author, Jon Kelly, a few days previously to provide some background and was quoted in the article. In what is quite a well balanced article Jon does start by asking the question as to whether the paper map still has life in it, concluding that indeed it does.

And Finally….

One of the best cartographically related books that I have read is The Great Arc by John Keay, which tells the story of George Everest and his survey of India. If you haven’t read it, I would strongly recommend it and John is giving a talk on the subject at the National Army Museum on 27th March, full details of which are available at The National Army Museum website.

Pete Jones MBE, FBCartS, CGeog, FRGS

5th March 2014

Twitter: @geomapnut

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