Thursday 7 May 2015

BCS President's Bulletin April 2015

The deadline for submitting your maps for the BCS Awards was 30th April, so I hope that you managed to get your entries in on time. Many of you did as the number of entries for the 2015 Awards is almost double that of last year. All the publicity, particularly on social media has paid dividends with entries coming in from all over the world. The judges are certainly going to be made to work hard this year in order to decide on the winning entries. Judging will take place over the next few weeks and the winners will be announced at the Annual Gala Dinner at the joint BCS/SoC Conference in September. We hope that as many as possible of the winners and runners up will be able to join us to celebrate excellence in Cartography. The programme for the Conference is virtually finalised and publicity will be appearing very shortly via the SoC website and through printed brochures which will be available at Events in May and June. BCS will have an exhibition stand at the ESRI UK Conference on 19th May and at GeoBusiness on 27th and 28th May, so if you are attending these events, please come along and visit the BCS stand. The latest issue of Maplines has just been published and inside you will find nomination forms for BCS Council. If you have ever thought of standing for Council then please do speak to one of the current members Council as we are keen to involve as many people as possible in the running of the Society and new faces are always welcome.

We will also be looking for a new Administrative Consultant to start in October as the current incumbent, Roger Hore, has indicated that he will be standing down after six years. Full details of the role will appear on the BCS website shortly, so please do pass on the details to anyone you know who might be interested.

Cartography on the Internet


One BCS Award this year that hasn’t yet closed is the Google Award for Mapping of the General Election Result. I recently heard Danny Dorling speak at SOAS about mapping election results and there are also some useful hints and tips in an article at, so it might be worth reading it to get some hints and tips before you submit your entry.

It’s certainly been true in a military context, but The Guardian recently highlighted other sorts of battles where mapping is critical. Under the headline of “No battle can be fought without a map”, they highlight the role that mapping is playing on countering land grabs, deforestation, pollution and the rush for mineral exploitation. The amount of material now being used to counter these activities has now come to fruition in a new atlas. The Environmental Justice Atlas is an atlas of environmental struggles across the world. It includes land wars in India, anti-mining activities in Latin America, a legal fight against oil pollution in the Amazon and park protests in Bosnia and Herzegovina. So far, the atlas documents 1,400 conflicts, but this will grow as more information comes in about areas that are little reported on.

The BCS prides itself on being a very inclusive Society and draws its membership from a diverse base. There is possibly a perception that Cartography in the modern era, with a preponderance of technology, is becoming more male dominated. It would be interesting to get figures on the split between male and female in the industry. The Osher Library exhibition certainly seems to think that the role of women has been underplayed and has an exhibition running from March through to October entitled ‘Women in Cartography’. To quote its publicity “This exhibition recognizes and celebrates the long overlooked role of women in the world of mapping; bringing their stories, accomplishments, and most importantly their maps to light.” Located at the University of South Maine, I’m afraid it may be a bit too far for a Map Curators Group visit.


Most of it has probably been said before, but the article on unmapped places in the world on the BBC website does highlight some of the less well known examples and stresses that even in the days of the ubiquitous internet we still struggle to keep up with the pace of change happening on a global scale. Climate change, urbanisation and natural disasters such as the recent earthquake in Nepal all conspire to make the work of the map maker never-ending.


On a similar vein, I wrote about the Missing Maps project a couple of months ago. Engineering consultancy firm, Arup has now signed up to support this initiative working with M├ędicins Sans Frontières, and the British and American Red Cross, to digitally map the most vulnerable places in the developing world. If we think of vulnerable places, then Nepal will be in the forefront of our minds at the moment. This must be one of the most well mapped and recorded natural disasters of recent years with social media very much to the fore in providing information that is being used extensively by the rescue and aid agencies. Twitter has been almost overwhelmed by the number of sources of information being posted by organisations around the world. Given its relative isolation Nepal is surprisingly well mapped at 1:25,000 and smaller, but a huge amount of update information has been provide by Open Street Map, drone imagery and organisations like MapAction who have deployed to the worst hit areas.

One potential consequence is that we may have to consider the topic for Restless Earth. Since 2011 we have concentrated on the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, but such is the severity of this incident that we may move to something that is more recent and provides some very different challenges to the mapmaker than did the disaster in Japan.


BCS is supporting the Maptime initiative in the UK. The concept started in the US, where people interested in making maps would gather informally with their own laptops and software to learn about making maps digitally, using different software packages and applications and sharing knowledge. There are now two groups in the UK, one in West London and one in Southampton, each meeting on a regular basis. Both of them are on Twitter under Maptime West London and Maptime Southampton. You may like to set up a group in another part of the UK. I do know that the West London group are planning to enter the Google Election Mapping Award, either as a group or individually, so Southampton consider the gauntlet thrown down. If you are planning on entering the Google Award entries close on 30th June, not 31st May as it says in ‘Notes from our President’ in Maplines.

And Finally…

This appeared in the press recently, so it definitely sounds like one to add to the playlist! “Strange name but not so strange music is what ambient melodic post-rockers Sleepmakeswaves bring to Port Macquarie on their international tour to support their new album Love of Cartography.

The Great Northern tour celebrates the release of the band's latest single and will see them play 55 shows in 22 countries across Europe, the UK, Asia, Australia and New Zealand in their biggest tour to date. The band had a massive 2014, with Love of Cartography charting at No.31 on the ARIA chart and No.2 on the 100 per cent Independent chart behind Sia.”

Add it to your Christmas list!

Pete Jones MBE FBCart.S CGeog
6th May 2015
Twitter: @geomapnut

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