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The UK Mapping Festival

Earlier this week, I spent two days at the UK Mapping Festival in London. The festival was an interesting departure from the usual format, with a number of related events taking place between the 2nd and 7th of September. As well a free exhibition there was an interesting line up of talks and workshops at the conference, with the content on each day moulded by the conference partners, who included The Association for Geographic Information (AGI), the British Cartographic Society (BCS) and the Society of Cartographers(SoC).

4th September : Underpinning Your Organisation’s Value Today (AGI)

The morning session included keynotes from Tim Just of Innovate UK and Jamie Clark from the Geospatial Commission. Jamie spoke about central government now seeing geographic information as being critical to unlocking value within the UK economy and that the creation of a ministerial steering group for the Geospatial Commission was the key new element. The government is predicting up to £11 billion growth from the use of geographic information in Sales & Marketing, Property & Land, Infrastructure & Construction, Mobility and Natural Resources. The Geospatial Commission is currently undertaking a “Call for Evidence” comprising 21 questions which the AGI will be responding to.

The second series of presentations began with Dr Marc Adams from the National Audit Office, entitled “Why Are Auditors Interested in Mapping Anyway?”. This was an interesting presentation on the ways in which GIS. is used to help the NAO scrutinize public spending. Apparently one third of all “Value for Money Studies” included maps and/or spatial analysis. I was interested to hear that their main mapping product is QGIS, the Open Source GIS solution promoted by Astun Technology. This was followed by Karen Nickel from Wigan Council speaking about their Corporate GIS Strategy, which covered a well trodden path that many of our iShare customers have already been down. There was an interesting revelation in that despite having a corporate strategy, funding was still departmentally based!

After these sessions, I decided to attend the “Speed Networking” session run by Steph Stedman of TfL, which was a novel innovation, but unfortunately not well attended. This did however allow for more detailed discussions to take place.

In the afternoon, I decided to avoid the workshop session on “How Geographic Information Could be Used in a Zombie Apocalypse” and settled on a return to the safety of the main conference programme! This began with the ever reliable Nick Chapallaz of GeoPlace who spoke about “Unlocking Value from Opening UPRNs and USRNs”. He gave some historical background to the creation of UPRNs and USRNs, including reference to the Chorley Report and the work of Peter Dale, one of my lecturers many years ago who first got me interested in GIS! Nick went on to speak about the Geospatial Commission and the aim was to make the UPRNs and USRNs open data. As a former Land Surveyor, I was also interested in James Quick of the Ordnance Survey later in the afternoon on the use of GIS to optimize the recruitment of Field Surveyors.

A new innovation in the evening was a Comedy Night entitled “Mapsolutely Hilarious”, with the stand out acts being Steve Cross and Jay Foreman.

5th September : Geo – Mapping Tomorrow (BCS & SoC)

This day was for those, like me, who just love maps. The first session I attended was entitled “Mapping History”. It began with Dr John Peaty who spoke about “The First World War and Cartography”. I did like the names applied by the “Tommies” such as “Sausage Valley” and “Mash Valley”! This was followed by John Davis and Alexander Kent who spoke about the fascinating “Secret Soviet Mapping of London” during the cold war which forms the basis of the book “The Red Atlas”. The final speaker in this session was our own Steven Feldman with “Mapping Israel from Biblical Times to the Present Day”.

Steven Feldman about to get underway

After this I attended the “Mapping in the Cloud” workshop led by Michael Petersen from the University of Nebraska.

The day continued with a conference session on the “Love of Maps”, including a “A Love Letter to Cartography” from Kenneth Field which unfortunately coincided with Tom Armitage’s  Workshop “Data Viz with QGIS” as I would like to have attend both.

Kenneth Field’s Lego Globe - A Star Attraction!

All in all, a good event with some great presentations and workshops and I hope very much the event will be repeated in 2019.


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