Wednesday 11 September 2013

British Cartographic Society Award Winners 2013

The British Cartographic Society (founded in 1963, and celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year) has been recognising good map design through their Awards since 1978. The Awards system is designed to encourage entrants across all cartographic disciplines, and to showcase products created through traditional, new or experimental techniques. They aim to promote the best of cartographic products and highlight excellent cartographic design in the UK and abroad. 

The 50th Anniversary Symposium was held at Hothorpe Hall, Leicestershire and welcomed 11 past presidents back to The BCS to join in the celebrations.

Congratulations to all the award winners and runners up of 2013. Please see the website for more details on each winner.

Stanfords Award Winner - Mary Spence, Global Mapping for "The World"
Stanford Highly Commended entry -  Mike Murphy, University of Cork for "The Atlas of the Irish Famine"

Avenza Award Winner - Clare Seldon, Steer Davies Gleave for  "Swindon Journey Planner"

Ordnance Survey Open Data Award Winner - Ashley Clough, Parallel for "Interactive UK Healthcare Data Visualiation"
Ordnance Survey Open Data Highly Commended entry - Caroline Robinson, Clear Mapping for "Summer in February" Film Estate Maps

John C Bartholomew Award Winner - Peter Fretwell, British Antarctic Survey for "Bedmap2: Bedrock Topology of Antarctica
John C Bartholomew Highly Commended entry -  Mike Murphy, University of Cork for "The Atlas of the Irish Famine"

BCS Award:
This is presented to the entry judged to be the best from the four award winning entries presented this year from:

* The Stanfords Award won by Global Mapping;
* The Avenza Award won by Steer Davies Gleave;
* The Ordnance Survey Open Data Award won by Parallel; and
* The John C. Bartholomew Award won by British Antarctic Survey

We have the pleasure in announcing that the BCS Award is presented to: Mary Spence, Global Mapping for "The World"

Symposium attendees at Hothorpe Hall, Leics
all photography by Martin Lubikowski @MartinMLDesign

Monday 2 September 2013

BCS President’s Report August 2013

As with July, another infamous criminal incident was making the headlines in the UK 50 years ago. The Great Train Robbery, originally referred to as the Cheddington Mail Van Raid took place on August 8th 1963. Just over £2.6M, equivalent to £41M today, was stolen. The plan was to intercept and rob the overnight Glasgow to London mail train. The train was halted by a red signal that had been rigged by the robbers just after passing through Leighton Buzzard. The driver, secondsman and the staff manning the high value coach were all overpowered. The train was then moved a few hundred yards down the line to Bridego Bridge, now renamed as Train Robbers bridge, where the money was offloaded into a lorry. The gang then made their way to their hideout at Leatherslade Farm, some 25 miles away. Although I was only 5 at the time, I can remember the events vaguely, primarily because the hideout was only about 10 miles from my family home in Bicester.
Most of the gang were captured, and some infamously subsequently escaped. Despite the fact that no firearms were used, the gang were given hefty sentences of 25-30 years.

On 28th August 1963 Martin Luther King delivered his ‘I have a dream’ address in Washington DC as part of the March on Washington. It was here that he established his reputation as one of the greatest orators in American history. Although toned down due to presidential pressure from John F Kennedy, the march made specific demands: an end to racial segregation in public schools; meaningful civil rights legislation, including a law prohibiting racial discrimination in employment; protection of civil rights workers from police brutality and a $2 minimum wage for all workers. Despite tensions, the march was a resounding success. More than 250,000 people of diverse ethnicities attended the event and at the time, it was the largest gathering of protesters in Washington, D.C.'s history.

King delivered a 17-minute speech, and in the speech's most famous passage—in which he departed from his prepared text, King said:
“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.”

I have read and re-read this passage several times, trying to see if I could condense it for this bulletin, but in the end have decided to leave it as is. It is a powerful piece of oratory that 50 years later sounds strange to our ears in its choice of language and yet still resonates in a world where racial problems persist.

The original image of the map, produced by Bell State University can be found on their website.

Map Design
One of the inevitable results of the ‘democratisation’ of cartography is that anyone can now easily access map making tools, but the lack of any training or instruction in some of the cartographic basics means that the results are often not pleasing on the eye, nor do they get across their intended message.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and a recent article in Cartographic Perspectives reminds us that it is not easy to measure good design, or to quote the article, 
It is notoriously difficult to test the quality of a map’s design or beauty with any rigor, let alone establish some concrete, quantitative rules.
Co-authored by BCS members Alex Kent and Ken Field, along with others, it is a very useful review of the topic and can be found on the Cartographic Perspectives website.

International Cartographic Conference, Dresden
The biennial ICC was held in Dresden at the end of August and was the prelude to the events of #maptember. This was the first one that I had been to and I was not sure what to expect. It is a major international gathering and the event attracted nearly 1200 delegates from 81 countries. Although I didn’t get round to meeting all of them, the BCS stand was quite popular and a number of people expressed interest in joining with one delegate even signing up on the day. Our international membership is quite strong and it was good to meet several of our overseas members including Roger Smith from New Zealand, who will be joining us at Symposium next week and must win the prize for travelling the furthest to be there! There was a strong UK presence at the Conference, many of whom were BCS members. The range of topics covered was impressive, reflecting the work of the many commissions of the ICA, several of which are chaired by UK delegates.
I thoroughly enjoyed the week and found it very educational and entertaining in equal parts. The conference was conducted almost exclusively in English and I never cease to be slightly embarrassed by the fact that we tend to be lazy when it comes to languages, although the variable standard of English at the Conference did lead to the occasional translation glitch. I think my favourite new term is “aggressive crossroads”. I think we’ve all been there!

Dresden is a very nice city, sensitively reconstructed after 1945 and proved to be a great host venue. It is fairly compact as a city making it easy to get around and with a direct flight from London City Airport, I can recommend it for a weekend city break. The local organising committee had done a fantastic job with the programme and the Conference itself ran extremely smoothly. I think the one thing to take away though is the tag line that the ICA President Georg Gartner used to conclude his welcoming speech at the start of the Conference, “It’s okay to be a cartographer”.

The next ICC Conference, in 2015, will be in Rio de Janeiro, sandwiched between the Football World Cup and the Olympics and the team from Rio were doing a great job of marketing it as a venue.

BCS Symposium 
As I sit writing this at 6:30 on a Saturday morning, the BCS Symposium is now only a couple of days away. Numbers attending are well up on previous years and for the first time I can remember we are now ‘full’. The programme looks particularly strong this year, especially with the heads of the five major UK mapping organisations presenting in the keynote session. Add to this the 50th anniversary celebrations, being attended by 11 former BCS Presidents, and the reason for the popularity this year is apparent.

I very much look forward to seeing all the delegates in Leicestershire.

Pete Jones MBE, CGeog, FRGS
31st August 2013

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