Saturday 6 October 2012

BCS President’s Report September 2012

I hope you all enjoyed the summer break. September started with a Council meeting in London on the 6th. You will be pleased to know that the Society’s finances are sound and the membership is up again. We are looking at ways of reducing the overall costs of producing Maplines and we’ve decided to delay the re-branding process until 2014 but we will be updating the marketing material to reflect our 50th Anniversary next year. The 2013 programme is coming together and there will be some exceptional events.
Summer Maplines
I hope you’ve all had the summer edition of Maplines by now – another excellent effort by the Maplines team. The cut-off date for articles for the winter edition is 16 October so please get those articles to the editors as soon as you can.

We had a stand at the recent AGI conference in Nottingham and our thanks go to our hosts the AGI and to Hugo Boylan and David Cooper who helped to man the stand. I think we should get a few more members following this event. The schools Restless Earth team have just got back from 2 days in Penarth. We did 2 sessions on the Wednesday and 2 on Thursday which meant that over 200 students took part in the exercise. We’ve been invited back next year so the staff and students must have been pleased. This time we had help from RGS ambassadors and students from the University of Glamorgan for which we are very grateful.

There is a GIS SIG meeting on 24 October which is being held at the British Computer Society offices, which are just off the Strand, and entitled, 'Experiences of working with commercial and open source data and software'. It promises to be a really useful and informative afternoon so do come and join us. Details, of course, are on the BCS website.  
On 26 October there is another schools Restless Earth Workshop this time in Sandhurst. The final event in October is our AGM, Lecture and dinner in the RAF Club on the 31st, again details are on the website and Roger Hore will be sending out the paperwork shortly.

And lastly, if you heard the short piece I did with Eddie Mair on the Radio 4 pm programme you may have gathered that I had to use the atlas index to establish the precise location of Uttoxeter – my apologies to any members who live there!
And if you are short of ideas for a Christmas, well membership of BCS might be appreciated?
Best Wishes

Peter Jolly
President of The British Cartographic Society

Wednesday 22 August 2012

GIS special interest group report

This year’s GIS SIG at the Symposium discussed the use of GIS in the charity and not-for-profit sector.  Map Action, Birdlife, The RNLI and Global Map Aid each spent 30 minutes discussing their work and how GIS is helping to create business insight. 

GIS is helping to save and conserve lives, both human and animal around the world on both land and at sea.  With the current economic unrest donations to charitable organisations are falling.  Every pound spent is increasingly important.  GIS analysis combined with strong cartographic outputs enables charities to better understand their operational environment and how to focus spend appropriately. Using GIS charities are able to make better informed decisions on where to invest donations in the most appropriate way and importantly justify their activities to the communities which support them. 

I’d like to thank Ming Lee from MapAction, Mark Balman of Birdlife, Dan Ryan from RNLI and Doug Eamer from Global Map Aid for taking the time to speak at the SIG.  The volume of questions at the end of the presentations highlighted another successful session.

If any members of the society would like to suggest topics for future GIS SIGs or would like to present please drop Rob Sharpe a line at: 
Rob Sharpe
note from author:
The BCS would also like to congratulate Ming Lee from MapAction on his Olympic Torch bearing duty in London in the final stages of the relay where he handed the flame over to Prince Harry after being invited to fly the flag for volunteering.

Thursday 9 August 2012

BCS Presidents Report July/August

Dear Members
I thought it would be a good idea to have one report that covered both July and August as, unsurprisingly, we only have one event in August which is the Map Curators meeting in Leeds, 29-30 August. So Map Curators if you haven’t signed up already please do so.

On 13 July I was invited to the British Library for the launch of the Earth Platinum Atlas produced by Millennium House in Australia. It is the largest atlas in the world and just 31 copies will be produced. If you’d like to take a look (or buy one for $1000,000?) check out some images.

On 19 July there was a UK GEOForum meeting in London. The Forum has representatives from 14 associations/societies in geography and mapping industries and is an excellent group facilitating discussions of matters of the moment within the industry and co-operative ventures with organisations like the AGI, RGS and GA.
Indeed, there was a Better Mapping II event in London on 26 July which was organised in co-operation with the AGI and kindly hosted by our ‘initialsakes’, the British Computer Society. No problem with attendees, even just the day before the Olympic Opening Ceremony in London, with all 45 places filled. My thanks must go to our speakers: Peter Jones, Mary Spence, and Clare Seldon. Clare works for Steer Davies Gleave who are very supportive of these events – thank you too.

So after the Map Curators meeting at the end of August, we have a Council meeting on 6 September in London, and we hope to have a stand at the AGI Conference, 19-20 September at The East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham.
Then we have our first 2 day Restless Earth Schools Workshop in Penarth, 26-27 September. Looking further ahead still and to give you a ‘heads-up’, the GIS SIG will meet in London on 24 October at our ‘initialsakes’ offices and our AGM/Lecture/Dinner event will be at the RAF Club on 31 October starting at 1700.

Finally, on a personal note, some of you will be aware that I retired from Esri on 30 June after 15 years. I spent my first 5 years working for Esri UK and the remainder for Esri Inc in Redlands. You can’t be President of an organisation such as BCS without the full support of your employer and Esri in Redlands couldn’t have been more helpful. Closer to home, Esri UK are Corporate Members of BCS and sponsors of our Symposium so thank you too.

Let’s hope we have some more sunshine and we can all enjoy the August break.
Best Wishes

Peter Jolly
President of The British Cartographic Society

Wednesday 4 July 2012

BCS President's Report June 2012
The main event in June was, of course, the Symposium held in Basingstoke, well, just outside Basingstoke at the Basingstoke Country Hotel near Hook. The Symposium was preceded by a Restless Earth Schools Workshop and a meeting of the GIS SIG during which presentations were given on the use of GIS by Charities.All-in-all it was indeed a great event, the atmosphere was so friendly and everywhere you looked there were groups of people talking. More importantly it was the third year in succession that the number of attendees had increased by 10% and still more importantly 40% of those who attended were first-timers. Our Corporate members made a great contribution too as 25% of them, 20 in all, took the opportunity to have a stand, twice as many as last year. My thanks once again to our sponsors of the event: Cadcorp, EsriUK, Leica Geosystems, Europa Technologies, Victoria Litho, Star-Apic, Newgrove, Ordnance Survey and Global Mapping. So thank you to all who attended, the speakers and all those involved in the organisation.
On 19 June there was a one day Better Mapping course in Leeds. A week before the event only 11 people had registered for the course and we, BCS and our partners AGI, seriously considered cancelling it. However, ‘we didn’t get where we are today by giving up’ and as happens so often these days there were a number of people who registered late in the day and we had 21 on the course in the end.
The next Better Mapping event will be held in The British Computer Society offices in London on 26 July. All the details are on the BCS website:
On 21 June the BCS/RGS team were in Northampton delivering a Schools Restless Earth Workshop. There were 2 sessions with 75 students taking part in the morning and 65 in the afternoon. Assuming we do 2 of these Workshops each month during term time as we’ve done this financial year we now have some idea of the annual cost and will be seeking sponsorship in the coming months.
We held a Council meeting on 28 June in London when the main topic was the preparations for 2013, BCS’s 50th Anniversary. We have lots of good ideas, a special book, attendance at the ICC in Dresden, lectures etc. There should be about one event a month. When our plans are firm-up we will, of course, make them easily available. June 30 is our financial year end and it looks as though we will end the year with a small surplus, which is good as we’ll be spending a little more in 2013 on the 50th Anniversary celebrations. We have 606 paid up members this calendar year, so far, which includes 47 new members which is really good news.
Finally, don’t forget nominations for Council have to be submitted by 1 August - 2013 will be a great year to be on the Council.
Best Wishes
President of The British Cartographic Society

Thursday 31 May 2012

Queen Elizabeth I Minds the Map...

Art work by BCS Member Peter Vujakovic, for our Maplines Magazine, has been chosen for inclusion in the London Transport Museum’s (LTM) major Summer Exhibition. The exhibition about the history and creativity behind London transport maps opened on Friday 18 May 2012 and continues until 28 October. Mind the Map: inspiring art, design and cartography draws on the Museum’s art work and map collection to explore the themes of journeys, identity and publicity. The exhibition includes previously unseen historic material and exciting new work by leading artists. Over 20,000 people will read about Maplines Magazine and The British Cartographic Society as they pass through the exhibition this summer.
Peter’s cartoon satirises the attempt by Transport for London to remove the Thames from the iconic tube map in 2009. The cartoon shows Queen Elizabeth I astride the tube map indicating her displeasure at its removal and requiring that it is replaced before she takes the Royal Barge to town. The cartoon originally featured in the Winter 2009 issue of Maplines, the magazine of the British Cartographic Society. Peter is Professor of Geographical and Life Sciences at Canterbury Christ Church University, a member of the society and is a co-convenor of its Map Design Special Interest Group. See past editions of Maplines to see Peter's view of how other great minds of the past might grapple with the big issues of today!.
It is interesting to consider that this image is on display in the Jubilee year in which Elizabeth II will take to the Thames on her Royal Barge. The cartoon re-works the famous Ditchley portrait (1592) in which Elizabeth I stands on a map of England.

In support of the exhibition and the London Mapping Festival The BCS are also pleased to host a free talk by Claire Dobbin, Senior Curator of the exhibition, at our
Symposium on Wednesday 13th June 2012, near Basingstoke. The 
talk is open to anyone, irrespective of whether they have registered for the BCS Annual Symposium or not. 

BCS President's Report May 2012

When I was thinking about what I could include in this report my first thought was that not a lot has happened in May but actually it’s been quite busy. BCS was represented at the GEOData event in Dublin on 1 May and this was noteworthy as we are thinking of running a BCS Better Mapping event there later in the year. It could be an important area for attracting new members.
Another successful Restless Earth Schools Workshop was held in Stoke-on-Trent on 9 May and some more of our members, who hadn’t been involved before, took part. We had a stand at the Esri UK one day Conference in London on 15 May and there was another GEOData event in Manchester on 17 of the month and on the 28th  we had a UKCC meeting in London.

Recently I had a week in Redlands at the Esri HQ and Ken Field and Linda Beale very kindly hosted a party so that I could say ‘thank you’ to all my friends there who have helped me over the last 15 years – there are about 6 BCS members over there now. On Tuesday, 29th I’m off to Dresden for the IMTA(EAME) Conference. There’ll be quite a few BCS members there too and, of course, the next ICA Conference is in Dresden in August 2013, our 50th Anniversary year. We hope to share a stand there with Maney’s.

You’ll be interested to know that we are in the initial stages of re-branding BCS which we hope to have completed by the end of the year ready for 2013. Whatever happens it’s bound to be controversial, there’s bound to be lots of ‘huffing and puffing’ but we need to do it to help with our recruiting drive and give BCS a ‘fresh face’.

Our next big event is the BCS Symposium, 13-15 June. There is still time to book your place and I’m delighted to say that the numbers are up on last year. On Wednesday morning there will be a Restless Earth Workshop for schools in the area and the GIS SIG meets that afternoon. Just a further reminder, the exhibition opens at 5pm on Wednesday 13 June with a drinks reception and is followed by a talk from Claire Dobbin, Head Curator of London Transport Museum which promises to be fascinating. A very special ‘thank you’ to our Symposium sponsors for their support: Cadcorp, Esri UK, Leica Geosytems, Europa Technologies, Victoria Litho, Newgrove, Ordnance Survey, Star-Apic and Global Mapping.

After the Symposium there is a Better Mapping event in Leeds on 19 June and a Better Mapping 2 in London on 26 June followed by a BCS Council meeting in London on 28 June. This Council meeting will be preceded as usual by a Programme Committee meeting which this time will be focusing on the 2013 BCS 50th Anniversary events. It’s only 7 months away.

Let’s hope this sunny weather continues.
Best Wishes
President of The British Cartographic Society

Sunday 1 April 2012

BCS President's Report March 2012

March has been another busy month. We have carried out Restless Earth Workshops for schools in the Chatham and Banbury areas all of which have been well-received and much appreciated by the students who have taken part. Once again the mentors were from both BCS and the RGS Ambassadors and, therefore, my thanks to you all. We also had a stand at GEO 12 which was held in the middle of the month at the Holiday Inn at Elstree and our thanks go to PV Publications for that.

On the very positive side we’ve had 25 new members so far this year. However, there are a number of our existing members who have yet to pay their subscriptions. Please do pay as soon as you are able – you can do do so through our secure website at and on the Home page click on Membership Renew.  Thank you.
As you are aware it is the BCS’s 50th Anniversary next year and we are planning to produce a special book to celebrate the event entitled something like, ‘The British Cartographic Society 50th Anniversary Book’.  Martin Lubikowski, Nick Millea, Seppe Cassettari and I have drawn up an outline plan. To be fair Martin has drawn up the plan! We have identified significant events in the British Isles and internationally for each year from 1963 to 2012 (see list). Now we want to find maps that relate to those events. We would be delighted if any of you could provide suitable maps which preferably should be scanned and sent to Martin Lubikowski []. Any paper copy should be sent to Nick Millea at the Bodleian Library. We would, of course, also need the permission of the copyright holder to allow BCS to publish the map. If you wish to be involved please send your contributions by the 30 April – thanks in advance. Also, if you have any old photographs of members of the Society at ‘work’ that you think might be suitable for the book we’d be interested to see those too.

April will be another busy month. BCS has a stand at GISRUK which is at Lancaster University this year and David Forrest will be looking after that. The following week is the London Book Fair and I hope to see some of you there on Monday the 16th. On Tuesday there is a Restless Earth Workshop in Hackney and on Wednesday a Council meeting in London. My own programme also includes an Airport Summit in Brussels and attendance at the IHO Conference in Monte Carlo.

I hope you have had a chance to read the programme for the Symposium in June which is full of excellent sessions, workshops and presentations. Do register, if you can, before 2 May so that you get the benefit of the ‘Early Bird’ rates.

Finally, there will be the usual round of elections for Council and nomination forms will be sent out with the next edition of Maplines towards the end of April. So if you would like to be closely involved with the work and development of the Society now’s the time to think about seeking nomination.

Best Wishes

President of The British Cartographic Society

Monday 12 March 2012

Guest Blog: From Kirkbie, Kendal to Sendai, Japan

Restless Earth Geography Workshop at Kirkbie Kendal School – Tuesday 21st February

On a dark, wet and wild morning the British Cartographic Society blew into Kirkbie Kendal School, Kendal. The recently broadcast drought in the Southeast of England seemed a distant memory as Cumbria delivered its famous rain!

During the Restless Earth workshop our GCSE pupils participated in a hazard mapping task based on the Japanese Tsunami 2011. They were able to work in groups each taking on a specific roles within the team; Humanitarian; Military; Search and rescue; Medical; Co-Ordinator roles.
The challenge was to use the maps to produce two hazard maps that would show where helicopters could land, where supplies could be delivered, which roads were accessible, the implication of the Fukushima nuclear power plant exclusion zone and where survivors could be taken.

The Restless Earth workshop enabled our pupils to actively engage with maps and use them for a purpose. It was inspirational to see our mixed ability pupils all engaging with contemporary content and exhibit a real sense of curiosity.

The current Ofsted Geography criteria states that an outstanding department must make , “…very effective use is made of ICT and Geographical Information Systems (where relevant) to promote learning and enable pupils to use data and information sources to search and select, organise and investigate and refine and present information skilfully and independently.” ( , Jan 2012).

In the past this has often been difficult to meaningfully implement; the expensive nature of the software packages, difficultly accessing ICT in schools and linking it to the curriculum in a cohesive fashion rather than tacked on are often limiting factors. The BCS workshop allows departments deliver this element successfully.

The way in which the BCS workshop was planned and delivered allowed all our pupils to gain skills and in many cases has been a highlight of this academic year for pupils and staff. Pupil feedback included; “You can think about if you were in that situation what you would do. It also helps you take on a revision but in a different way.”
“I enjoyed solving the problem (e.g. where would the hospital go?) but it did get a little confusing as there were so many things to take in to consideration!!”
“I enjoyed learning more about maps and practising map skills. I also liked the way everyone had their own task to complete.”
“The teamwork, I really enjoyed looking at maps and feeling like we were actually planning it all.” Although we did have one pupil comment that it would have helped if the maps of Japan had not been in Japanese!

It was delightful to see different geography communities collide – the sharing of skills from the British Cartographic Society, the support of the Geographical Association ambassadors, Geography teachers being supported in embedding skills and the opportunity to see pupils engage with new concepts. It was genuinely an exciting experience and we hope that collaborations such as this continue to be an area supported by the BCS and the GA.

Fiona Derbyshire, Head of Geography, Kirkbie Kendal School

Find out more about The BCS Resltess Earth Workshops

Wednesday 15 February 2012

BCS President's Report February 2012

It’s the time of year here in the UK when we begin to think about summer holidays - which prompted me to think about all our BCS overseas members. I hope you are all well and enjoying life.

Furthermore I’m delighted to say that 4 overseas speakers will be giving presentations at our forthcoming Symposium in Basingstoke from 13-15 June. They are from Poland, France, Sweden and the USA. The full programme for the Symposium should be available on the website within the next few days. It’s completed but just waiting for final approval from the Programme Committee. Do please take time to look at it and I’m sure you’ll find that there are many sessions, some or all of which, are bound to be of interest.

The Council met on 7 February in London. The major points that resulted from that meeting are as follows:
  • the finances are sound and we ended 2011 with 628 members,
  • the UKCC review paper was accepted,
  • the Membership Committee will consider the possibility of re-branding the Society,
  • the 2012 programme is well in hand and a draft programme for 2013 is being refined,
  • the Publications Committee reported that they had plenty of material for both the next editions of the Cartographic Journal and Maplines
  • and all the SIGS have events planned for 2012
During the month the Society conducted 2 Restless Earth Workshops as planned, one for schools near Chipping Norton and the other for schools in Kendal, both of which went very well. When asked what the students liked best, typical of the answers was: “The teamwork, I really enjoyed looking at maps and feeling like we were actually planning it all.”
Next month we have 2 more Restless Earth Workshops in Chatham and Banbury and I’m sure with the help of our RGS ambassadors they too will be a great success.

We also have a stand at the GEO 12 event in Elstree, 21-22 March, where we will be endeavouring to encourage more people to join the Society. I’m delighted to say that Alan Grimwade, MD of Cosmographics Ltd, has taken over as the Corporate Member representative.

There are 2 other things I’ve been asked to include in this report. First of all, entries for the Map Awards should be submitted by 31 March and second, if you haven’t paid your annual subscription yet then please do so as soon as you are able.
On a lighter note, Rob Sharpe one of our Council members, married Emily Martin last Saturday. Congratulations to Mr and Mrs Sharpe.

Best Wishes
President of The British Cartographic Society

Sunday 12 February 2012

Guest Blog: New HMMG Convenor

I have recently taken over as Convenor of the Historical Military Mapping Group. 
The Group has unfortunately not been very active in organising events and producing newsletters in recent years and I plan to change that. I cannot of course do everything by myself (the day job keeps me rather busy) and I trust that I can count on the support of those within the BCS interested in historical military mapping, which I suspect to be sizeable number. 
I believe that there are many members of the BCS who are unaware of the Group because of its recent inactivity, especially those who are fairly new to the Society. I would be grateful if any member interested in the subject and the Group would get in touch with me via the HMMG Contact Form. It is of course permissible to belong to more than one Group within the BCS. I would particularly welcome any offers of support and any suggestions for visits, seminars, conferences, publications etc. 

We are of course amidst the 200th anniversaries of the Peninsular War and the 70th anniversaries of the Second World War; the centenaries of the First World War will be upon us before long. A historical military mapping seminar is being held immediately after the BCS annual symposium and up the road at Hermitage, Berkshire on Saturday 16th June, to which all members of the HMMG are invited. 

Dr John Peaty FRGS FRHistS

Tuesday 31 January 2012

BCS President's Report January 2012

I hope you all enjoyed the Christmas break and a Very Happy New Year.

The UKCC met on 10 Jan in London and the second draft of the Review will be circulated prior to the next Council meeting on 7 Feb. The Review seeks to clarify the financial arrangements and ensure that there is a proper return for members for monies spent.

The London Mapping Festival (LMF) Steering Group met on 17 Jan to discuss the programme for the coming year. Details will be available on the LMF website in due course.

BCS had a stand at the DGI Conference in London on 24-25 Jan and hopefully we will have some more new members as a result. THE UK GEOForum met the following day and that evening the Annual Lecture was given by Mike Parker the author of the book, ‘Map Addict’ – an excellent book and an equally enjoyable lecture.

Chipping Norton, then Kendal
The 2012 Restless Earth Schools programme starts next month with visits to schools in Chipping Norton and Kendal. Hopefully, we will have some support again from local RGS Ambassadors.

Thanks to all those who submitted abstracts of papers for the forthcoming Symposium in June. I’m told that it’s going to be difficult to include all the papers in the time available but the Programme Committee will be doing their best as always.

The cut-off date for submission of articles for the next edition of Maplines is 14 Feb. See our notes for contributors if you need any guidance.

As you may recall John Peaty from DGC has taken over as convener of the HMMG. Roger Hore has emailed all known HMMG members so if you haven’t had the email and wish to be involved please contact John on the HMMG contact form. The first suggested event is the Defence Surveyors Association Annual Seminar at Hermitage on 16 June.

We attracted 90 new members to the Society last year and only 40 members decided not to re-new their subscriptions which is a really pleasing result. So far this year we’ve had 9 new members so membership stands at about 630. Let’s try to make it 700 by the end of 2012.

The Council meets on 7 Feb in London and I’ll let you know about that meeting in my next report.

Best Wishes
BCS President

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