Wednesday 27 July 2011

BCS President's Report August 2011

I know it’s still July but here are a couple of reminders which might be helpful. 
First, nominations for Council have to be in by 1 August and second, the early-bird bookings for the Map Curators Group meeting in York, 7-9 September have to be made by 1 August too.
Whilst August is a quiet month for events, September is quite the opposite. The UK Cartographic Committee and the BCS Council both meet in York on 5 and 6 September respectively and I’ve already mentioned the MCG meeting at the same location. 
Some BCS members will be going to The IMTA(Americas) event in Palm Springs, 11-14 September. The following week the AGI holds its Annual Conference, 21-22 September in Nottingham. On 26 September we are running the BCS Schools Workshop at Lampton School, Hounslow, for up to 40 teams of 5 students which is both exciting and potentially exhausting!
The following day the UK GEOForum holds its meeting at Canary Wharf. Enjoy a quiet August, if circumstances allow, and I look forward to seeing you at the forthcoming events.
BCS President

Monday 11 July 2011

BCS President’s Report July 2011

Over 25 members of the BCS attended the International Cartographic Conference in Paris last week. Some of you may have followed events on the BCS website but if you haven’t, for whatever reason and you interested please take a look at the ICC page on the BCS website

Also, many of you will be aware that David Fairbairn has been Secretary General of the ICA for the last 4 years. Whilst there are no direct benefits to BCS having one of our number as Secretary General it certainly raises the profile of our Society in the eyes of the international cartographic community. So David, thank you very much indeed for all the hard work you have done as ICA Secretary General which is greatly appreciated by all members of BCS and I’m sure the international community.

BCS President

Thursday 7 July 2011

Guest Blog - Wednesday

Conference centre much quieter this morning – perhaps some got more wine at the reception, or afterwards. Heard that some of the UK contingent were very late home, after the metro stopped running. A few brave souls, including ICA President Bill Cartwright, took part in a walk along the Paris meridian, but most found the 6:30 (am!) start a bit too much of a challenge.
There was a series of sessions on Wednesday devoted to National Mapping Agencies which the ICA is increasingly trying to collaborate with. Vanessa Lawrence was in attendance, so we were represented at the highest level.
UK members - Alex Kent, Kenneth Field, Peter Jolly and David Fairbairn
There are about 30 UK delegates as far as I can determine – no delegate list issued so far. This is much smaller than the likes of Germany and several other countries, but we are quite an active contingent.  Peter Jolly is promoting The BCS on the ESRI stand and Maney have a stand also, giving a high profile to The Cartographic Journal. An initiative of the UKCC has been to distribute lapel pins with the Union Jack & French flags to all UK delegates to increase our profile. Most seem to appreciate this gesture. Thanks to Chris Board for funding the pins. 
National delegates and a few others were invited to the German embassy in the evening to promote ICC2013 in Dresden. See photo above of some key members of the UK contingent partaking of German hospitality.

David Forrest PhD FBCart.S
School of Geographical & Earth Sciences
University of Glasgow

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Guest Blog - Use & User Issues and Education

Detailed Programme Synopsis Link
Early start on Tuesday with chairing a session on Use & User Issues at 8:30am – no long lie-ins in Paris! 
With 8 parallel tracks of talks there is always something to choose, although inevitably you really want to be in 2 (or 3) places at once at some times, and find less of interest at others. But there is always the map exhibition or posters to look at. 

Second morning session was one on Education where I was presenting a paper comparing UK and North American approaches to cartographic education. Seems to have been well received and a few people have since expressed interest – and surprise – that there was such a difference. It seems the French emphasis is closer to the US model, but Germany more like the UK. I was not surprised by the later, but had not considered the French emphasis was so much on statistical cartography; it seems this is another influence of Bertin.
The paper following mine was about a new MSc programme in Cartography (yes, ‘Cartography’, not GIS or Geoinformatics) shared by two German & one Austrian university, all taught in English. The major concern to UK universities must be the fee – under 1000 Euros, where our home fee is £5000 and overseas fee £15000.

National Maritime Museum, Paris
The conference reception on Tuesday evening was at the national maritime museum. Lots of fascinating ship models, etc., but much more limited wine and very limited nibbles, given that this was a ticketed event and not included in the registration fee… Good opportunity to network though, so perhaps limited wine was a good thing!

David Forrest PhD FBCart.S 
School of Geographical & Earth Sciences 
University of Glasgow

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Guest Blog - Opening day

The opening ceremony was a very understated affair – no brass bands and dancing girls unlike Chile in 2009. We had welcomes from the president of the Committee France Cartography, from the IGN, from ICA president Bill Cartwright, and from Anne Ruas the conference chair, before launching into the first keynote presentation. Simultaneous translation with a headset that cuts out every couple of seconds is a recipe for a headache - so had to rely on my schoolboy French....
A theme of the conference is a celebration of the work of the renowned Jacques Bertin who died in 2010. His treatise on graphic semiology (symbol systems) forms the basis of much subsequent work in this area and had a major impact on data processing and map design in France and more widely. A keynote on this theme can be found in the ICA special issue of The Cartographic Journal. Two further sessions on Monday afternoon and a panel discussion were also devoted to Bertin. 

The conference centre in Paris is an impressive venue, with excellent facilities and has easy access to the Paris public transport system, so delegates are scattered across the city. We are not a big conference for this centre, so having stood in a long queue to pick up the sandwich lunch, you either stand or sit on the floor to eat it as apparently we do not reach the required threshold to get tables and chairs!

David Forrest PhD FBCart.S
School of Geographical & Earth Sciences
University of Glasgow

Guest Blog - Greetings from a sunny Paris

Following a very successful workshop on User Issues in Geospatial Public Transport Information on Friday & Saturday, the first part of the ICA General Assembly took place on Sunday. This is a somewhat drawn out affair, but necessary to go through the required business and allow national delegates from all the member countries to provide their input.

Voting does not take place at this first part of the GA – that takes place in the second session on Friday when the new president & executive will be elected, commissions voted and the location of the 2015 conference and general assembly decided. There are 2 bids for 2015 – Washington and Rio. The US presentation and brochure was more polished and more directly relevant; the Brazilian presentation and information focuses much more on the tourist appeal. Based on objective criteria, Washington wins hand down, but who wouldn’t want to go to Rio! Friday’s outcome will be interesting.
David Fairbairn

The other significant issue to report is that the UK had to withdraw the nomination of David Fairbairn as Secretary-General for a second four year term. David is very disappointed by this turn of events, but a new head of department made it clear he would get no support and would be expected to devote his time elsewhere. Given these circumstances there was no option but to withdraw. 
Fortunately a nomination has been received from Hungary as this is not a post that could be left unfilled.

Your National Delegate to ICC2011,
David Forrest PhD FBCart.S 
School of Geographical & Earth Sciences 
University of Glasgow

Sunday 3 July 2011

Public Transport GeoInformation Workshop, Paris

After a lovely sunny few days at IGN, Paris I am now back in London thinking about what will come next for PTI and cartography in the future... I'm looking forward to meeting up with some of the new contacts I've made so here's a little overview of what went on and what's planned next...

The Use and User Issues Commission concentrated this year on Public Transport GeoInformation and as I have been involved in PT mapping my whole career I found it a very informative workshop and gladly welcomed it. Access to mapping for the public has never been higher, and I expect that PT maps are a very large share of the market and yet we have no groups in the UK, or abroad that I'm aware of, that specialise in bringing the commissioners, creators and users of these maps together to collaborate and push the field forward.
Now, after this inaugural workshop I believe we have a better understanding of the wider issues, not just within our own sectors, like academia or commercial, but we can also see how we can use each others strengths to make PT mapping better for the user.
Many thanks to the organisers, BCS Council and Commission Vice President David Forrest, Chair - Corne van Elzakker and IGN/Cogit's Dr Catherine Domingues, as well as the event sponsors Steer Davies Gleave and COGIT.

It was a great success and well received by everyone I spoke to. Delegates arrived from as far away as Brazil, and the European attendance was high, ranging from Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, The Netherlands, UK and France to name a few.

As well as several presentation sessions and demo's over the two days delegates also carried out a user test to more or less success! We were instructed to visit several locations by PT and asked to record the planning and user decisions along the way, to facilitate a discussion on Paris signage and wayfinding facilities. Alex Pucher of University of Vienna is to collate the info and we hope that from the findings we can, as a group, identify some of the main issues in this area for users.
I look forward to seeing and assisting with the next steps in this process and I encourage anyone else with an interest in this area to help us gather this information so we can all learn from it and move the industry forward positively. Please check out the Commission's website where you will be able to see the outcomes of our work and contact us to find out more or participate.

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