Much ado about Quite a lot Actually - 02/06/2016

I must apologise to readers for the lateness of this issue. April and May were busy months with several standout GI events to cover and a week’s holiday in Lyon and Nice could not be missed. In addition, as you can read on page 6 (News), there were changes afoot that had to be carefully considered for this magazine and its publishers.

In addition to reporting events, I have been talking to key members of the AGI’s Council following the departure of two full-time staff and far-reaching changes to the management and administration of the organisation. Council members stress very strongly that AGI is in good financial shape and the changes come about following a very careful appraisal of where the organisation is going, against a backdrop of a rapidly changing geospatial sector. There have nevertheless been tough decisions, but ones which will help develop a very different AGI, one more tightly focused on members’ needs. You can read the full Q&A session I had with them from page 24 onwards.

Back in 1987, I remember reading all about a report into the benefits of geographical information. What was it all about? Of course, I knew all about maps and their benefits. I come from a construction background and particularly the laying of high-pressure cross-country pipelines over considerable distances. OS maps were an essential tool to locate features on the terrain like, rivers, roads and other obstacles to be traversed. Maps from British Geological Survey too were essential to gain an understanding of whether we would be excavating in clay or hard rock. But it hadn’t really clicked how in the computer age this information could all be linked and interrogated within one system. A technical trip at the same time as the Chorley Report to my local water company demonstrated what was already possible from an early system that was struggling with raster maps; it was another seven years before OS completed their map digitisation programme.

Lord Chorley died earlier this year and we pay tribute to him and his eponymous report through the recollections of those who knew him and worked with him on the committee that produced the groundbreaking report that gave rise to the AGI and a multibillion-pound industry.

Two things have imposed more influence on the English language than anything else. Phrases from the King James Bible and Shakespeare permeate our daily speech, with few realising it. In this celebratory year of Britain’s great bard, Jane Tomlinson has produced a beautiful painted map that brings to life his many plays and famous quotations from them. You can see the map on page 13 but better still why not buy a copy for closer study?

In his closing address to the Esri User conference Royal Geographical Society President Nick Crane talked of “a great age of geography” that began five hundred years ago with the European voyages of discovery (mainly looking for spices and treasure) and the arrival of cartographers and surveyors like Mercator and Frisius. Meanwhile, in a separate talk Esri UK chief technology officer Charles Kennelly believes that we’re living through a “Golden age of GIS”, a statement which I think many readers of this magazine would concur with. You can read a report of the conference from page 18 onwards.

Well, there’s lots to read in this issue. I hope there’s something to whet every appetite. Our next issue is August, copy date for editorial submissions is 11 July. Is there an interesting project or aspect of your work you’d like to share with readers?

This article was published in GIS Professional June 2016

Last updated: 28/01/2019