Monthly Archives: May 2006

Travel Time Maps

MySociety have done some funded temporal travel maps which sort of follow on from Toms tube temporal maps. They interestingly put a veiled critique of the data access they had at the bottom:

‘Although the journey planning services and software we used were publicly accessibly, almost none of the other data is available unless you pay for it, or your work falls under an existing licencing agreement. So while we set out to demonstrate how easily we could make travel-time maps from public data, very little of this work could be cheaply reproduced or extended without assistance from a government department.

That’s unfortunate, because it means that innovative work by outsiders in this area can only go ahead if it’s explicitly sponsored by government. If all the data we’ve used had been available for free, somebody else might well have done what we’ve done years ago, with no cost to the taxpayer. We’d love it if others extend the work that we’ve done, but realistically there aren’t very many people in a position to do this cheaply.’

I guess they can’t bite the hand that feeds them too hard! 🙂


Yes, mapchester is over. We met at the MDDA and through various bits of insane publicity attracted 40-odd people over the weekend who came to help map manchester. The end result will be used at futuresonic.
It was a somewhat different event to the Isle of Wight, not attracting so many people versed in licenses and GPS signal properties. In fact, most had never used a GPS unit before. Speaking of GPS units, eTrex devices didn’t fare too well in Manchester’s urban areas thanks to the urban canyon effect. We all need 60CSX units but they’re expensive. Much like we all need houses in the Caribbean.

Great Quote

Etienne Cherdlu makes an interesting couple of perhaps tounge-in-cheek points against what the OS recently told The Guardian.

>From Thursday’s Guardian article:
“We make an average of 5,000 changes to our large-scale data every day,” said an OS spokesperson. “It’s not about mapping the Isle of Wight once – it’s about continuing to map it … It is expensive to collect detailed, accurate information on the ever-changing world to the level of detail our customers require.”

>From an OSM spokesperson:
“This month we made an average of 6,567 (Note 1) changes to our large scale-data every work day” said an OSM spokesperson. “It’s not about mapping the Isle of Wight once – it’s about continuing to map it … and using enthusiastic and passionate volunteer surveyors we are collecting more information every day with 1,864 registered volunteers than the Ordnance Survey manages to do with a paid full time workforce of 1,490.”


One of the best things about openstreetmap is that I havn’t got a clue what everyone does any more. Once upon a time I knew everyone involved but now with over 1800 users things are just too big. Sxpert put an underground OSM demo at the stand at LinuxTAG, you can see pictures here. I wonder if Matt realised his logo would show up all over the place. The tag line is very nice ‘free map data for a free world’.

Ticket to Ryde

The Isle of Wight workshop is now over and most of us have travelled back nursing sores from punching those tiny GPS buttons all day. It was a great success, with over 30 people turning up. Friday started for David Groom and I by doing an interview for solent tv which can be downloaded here. The main event started with an extended BBQ on the beach on Friday night as people arrived with food, beer and parsnip crisps Stone Soup style. This carried on late in to the night and involved building a bonfire out of drift wood, getting carried away and trying to cook bananas.

Retreating to caravans and cottages, the next day was planned over donuts. We met in the morning at the Riverside Center in Newport and roughly divided up the Isle in to parts for people to map with much self-organisation. Everyone departed on foot, by car or cycling with GPS and methods of noting features like streets – camera, notebook or dictaphone. Those at HQ changed camp to the Quay Arts Center which provided much needed wifi.

SA Mathieson came to talk to us for (hopefully) a piece in this Thursday’s Guardian. The MP for the Isle of Wight, Andrew Turner, came and saw what we were doing. Being an ex-geography teacher he was interested, and the local press came along to snap some pictures too.

Sunday began by collating all the tracks together and deciding where next to map. The picture shows what we had, and it was impressive for one days work. Based on this, people departed to continue mapping but most came back for a late lunch together before sailing home.

But the best is yet to come! The traces will now be turned in to animations, posters and of course, a map!