Saturday 27 April 2013

BCS Presidents Report April 2013

If you weren't one of the 200-plus who attended, you missed a fascinating evening at the RGS with Michael Palin. He talked for an hour and I could quite happily have listened for a lot longer as he was so entertaining and the photos which accompanied the presentation were stunning. Clearly Michael is great fan of maps and uses them all the time during his travels. 
For those of you unable to make it, the first half of his presentation was about his passion for maps, the second half, anecdotes illustrated by photographs taken on his journeys. We were extremely lucky to get him to speak to us and thanks must go again to Mary Spence for arranging everything. Mary produced the maps for the book which accompanied Michael’s recent TV series ‘Brazil’. Michael stayed after his talk for the drinks reception and a fair few people managed to meet him, although for others I’m afraid it was a fleeting glimpse as he had to get away, as he was off to Oman the next day. This was certainly one of the highlights of the 50th anniversary celebrations and my new claim to fame is that I have shared a stage with Michael Palin.

Aldermaston march 1963On to this month’s anniversaries and fifty years ago on 6th April the UK Government signed the Polaris Sales Agreement with the US which led to the commencement of the construction of the nuclear submarine base at Faslane on Gare Loch. For many years the full details of this facility were not shown on Ordnance Survey maps, nor were many ‘protected places’ which were thought to be too sensitive to show on publicly available mapping. 
© Google 2013
This practice stopped with the advent of widely available aerial photography and Google now shows the base in "Glorious Technicolor" detail. It was an example of cartographic censorship, a lot of which still goes on today around the world. Yet it still seems a little strange that sites that were very well known or clearly visible, such as the Radomes at Fylingdales were not shown on OS maps. Just under two weeks later, on 15t April, 70,000 marchers arrived in London from Aldermaston to demonstrate against nuclear weapons.

Each year, a telecom market research firm called TeleGeography releases a map of the underwater cables that connect the Global Internet. It was described on the original internet site that I found this on as ‘flat out gorgeous’. The lines trace the paths that the world’s data takes every day, as packets of information zip between the continents. They don’t precisely track the cables’ actual underwater routes, but they do accurately show the land-based points for this massive underwater series of tubes.
At first glance, the lines appear to mirror long-proven global trade routes, with major hubs in the global capitals of New York, Amsterdam and Mumbai. The growth today, however, is in historically under-served regions such as Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. Interestingly not all the hubs are located in the big cities as you would expect. The cables converging on Brazil, land not in Sao Paolo or Rio de Janeiro but Fortaleza, simply because it’s an easier link to the Northern Hemisphere. Another popular destination is Djibouti.
The firm collects the data for the map each year from the private companies that operate the cables. This year’s edition includes 244 cable networks that are either already in service or scheduled for activation by 2014.
The map is available free of charge online in large and interactive formats—and you can also buy a print copy to frame and hang on your wall. But be warned: it is as pricey as a work of art at $250 a copy!

[Tube Challenge Logo]

Can you help? The BCS would like to make an attempt on a world record in our anniversary year. We have searched for a map related one and the best fit is what has become known as the ‘Tube Challenge’ – visiting all 270 London Underground Stations in the shortest possible time. As it is also the 150th Anniversary of the London Underground this seems to be a particularly appropriate one. The current record (at time of going to press) is 16 hours, 29 minutes and 13 seconds, which is thought by the aficionados to be just about the best time possible, but I am sure that the combined resources of the BCS can have a good go at beating it!

As some of the challenge requires running between stations – those at the end of lines predominantly – we need some fit BCS members to actually take on the record attempt, backed up by Mission Control, somewhere in the central London area – again offers to host gratefully received. As some tube stations are closed at weekends it needs to be undertaken on a week day and to include Olympia it needs to be on a day when a service is running from Earl’s Court. Whatever you can bring to the attempt – an encyclopaedic knowledge of bus routes between tube stations? – please get in touch if you would like to be involved.

Maplines is the magazine of the BCS and you may have noticed recently that it hasn’t been published quite on time. We are urgently in need of volunteers to join the editorial team and if you have any publication layout experience that would be particularly useful. If we can get 2 or 3 additional people it will greatly ease the burden and shouldn’t make it too onerous a task. The Society relies on volunteers and it would be great if more members could become involved, so if you’ve always wanted to help but haven’t seen an opportunity, please do get in touch via the website or e-mail me at

Pete Jones MBE, CGeog, FRGS
25th April 2013

“You want me to sign how many books?!”

And finally;
The  6th Annual International Spatial Socio-Cultural Knowledge Workshop, which will be held again at the UK Defence Academy in Shrivenham, on Monday 10th and Tuesday 11th June 2013. The BCS has been offered at stand at this workshop and we are currently looking for volunteers to man the stand over the two days – names please to

Tuesday 9 April 2013


Mapping Chiefs Unite to Discuss Future of Mapping at BCS Symposium

For what is thought to the first time ever, the heads of the five British Mapping and Charting agencies will come together to discuss the future of mapping in front of an audience of cartographic professionals and enthusiasts. This keynote presentation – ‘probably the most important conference session held in the UK, this year, on the future of mapping’ – acts as a headline for the British Cartographic Society’s 50th Annual Symposium. Part of a year-long celebration of mapmaking the theme of the anniversary Symposium is ‘Today, Tomorrow and Beyond’ reflecting the Society’s forward looking vision for the future of cartography, and the event is being held at the historic Hothorpe Hall, Leicestershire from 3-6 September 2013.

“In our 50th Anniversary year it is a pleasure to return to Leicestershire as this was where the first Symposium was first held back in 1964,” commented Mr Peter Jones MBE, President of the British Cartographic Society. “It is also a huge honour to welcome senior executives from the five British Mapping and Charting agencies to discuss how their organisations have changed over the past fifty years and highlight what they see as the key elements of the future of mapping. This is the centrepiece of our Anniversary Symposium and emphasises how important maps are today in our rapidly changing and increasingly digital society.”

Dr Vanessa Lawrence CB, Director General and Chief Executive of the Ordnance Survey joins Paul Hancock, Director of the Defence Geographic Centre, John Wilkinson, Chief Executive Land and Property Services, Rear Admiral Ian Moncrieff, CBE, Chief Executive of United Kingdom Hydrographic Office and Professor John Ludden, Executive Director of the British Geological Survey for a session titled ‘The Future for the UK World Leaders in Mapping’.

The BCS Anniversary Symposium will follow the successful format of events developed over the past fifty years including formal presentations, hands on workshops and lively debates. The event kicks off with a number of Special Interest Group meetings, including the Map Curators, GIS and Design groups, followed by the biannual Helen Wallis Memorial Lecture. Nick Millea, Map Librarian at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford will present ‘Today, tomorrow and beyond: can the past project cartography into the future?’ Other sessions during the three day event will include ‘Mapping technologies for tomorrow’, ‘Cartography and Geospatial Intelligence’ and ‘Mapping for the challenges of tomorrow’ with contributions from the Unites States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, Glasgow School of Art and the British Antarctic Survey.

The 2013 BCS Annual Symposium is kindly sponsored by the Society’s corporate members Cadcorp, ESRI (UK), Harper Collins, Leica Geosystems, Newgrove, Ordnance Survey, Star-Apic, The GeoInformation Group and Victoria Litho and is organised on behalf of the Society by Training4GIS.

To find out more about this and other events in the 50th Anniversary Calendar follow the society on: twitter @bcsweb, facebook or visit the webpage  

A booking form for the symposium can be downloaded:

- end –

Notes to editors

About the British Cartographic Society
The British Cartographic Society promotes the art and science of cartography through awards, events, publications and special interest groups. 2013 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Society, a registered charity, and is being celebrated with a year-long programme of promotional, lecture, social and outreach events.  The 2013 calendar of events is sponsored by society corporate members Cadcorp, ESRI (UK), Harper Collins, Leica Geosystems, Newgrove, Star-Apic, The GeoInformation Group and Victoria Litho.

Blog List