Influences on Location Technologies

Influences on Location Technologies

Every 2 months the finest in Geography get together to discover, discuss and network around the latest influences on location technologies. This week witnessed a first! Joint winners shared the coveted SplashMaps award for outstanding presentations. Equally rewarding were an app that uses near area tech in dating and the history of fake maps inspired by US President D Trump himself!

The Coveted SplashMaps award

Joint Winners! Steve and Nina share the honour with Mike Halls beautiful Illustrated London Map on satin

Under the microscope this time;

Steven Feldman with Fake Maps – willingly or unwillingly led by false maps

Nina with Hello Hub – near area introduction service
Max with CityCycler – city cycling buddying app
Olivia with Open Sensors – internet of things services to improve your office life
Izambard with Huq – real world as opposed to on-line analytics

Steven Feldman – Fake Maps – Joint SplashMaps Winner!!

Trump likes maps, but is that a good thing?

Fake maps have a history

Trump likes map? Is this a good thing? Fake maps have a history that pre-dates Trumps vainglorious election maps and Steve’s great condensed version of his Foss4G presentation took us on a brisk canter through the most amusing and thought-provoking bits.

Climb every fake mountain?

The mountains of the Moon in Eastern Africa have been mapped as spanning Africa even before Christ! The Mountains of Kong were a fictitious range of mountains across West Africa, the invention of lazy adventurers in the Victorian era, yet they persisted even into the 20th Century. Looks like often, we makers of maps are standing as much on the shoulders of liars as we are geniuses.
Even California appeared as an Island for centuries since 1492. It was mapped as an island 200 times before the king of Spain had it officially surveyed.

Does modern technology improve things?

Not at all! Nowadays technologies makes it easier to make mistakes and build upon the mistakes and assumptions of others.
Steve described the often manipulative if well-meaning use of Projections as a great example. Gall-Peters’ projection may make the land areas look more fairly represented and thus balance our view of impoverished Africa and South America. But since a famous University in Boston mandated it the only projection across all departments, they soon found that navigation and most geographical activities became impossible. The projection and maps were made for the political purpose of highlighting imbalance, but the Mercator which allows bearings to be made along straight lines across the world will always have its place. Other projections have their purpose too and today’s cartographers, journalists and presidents would do well to use each for their specific purpose only.

Bulging Stats

Ben Hennigs maps distort areas to highlight issues. Here’s where the world move to urbanisation.

Steve doesn’t have much time for Choropleths (see work by Danny Doyle and Ben Hennig) . Though I love them from an aesthetic level and the fact they invoke intrigue, he argues that large areas of bright colours will dominate your attention and bias your view. Again, maps designed to lead you to a predetermined conclusion!

What a great collection of comedy maps!

Steve raced through the crowd pleasers of historically politicised maps, depicting despotic leaders with creeping tentacles and British bulldogs advancing across Europe. What a great collection of comedy maps sourced from the British Library archive.

Back to Trump and Kenneth Field’s map of his “ties”

He ended where we began, with Trump and Jonathan Field’s beautiful map on the world according to Trump. Where once there were tentacles, now it’s the red tie of “America First”. Love it!


Nina Tumanishvili– Hello Hub – SplashMaps Winner!!

Without the pain of lifting your head

Nina gives a relaxed delivery

Fancy a date? If you’ve ever lifted your head above the phone screen on the London Toob and considered introducing yourself to someone, well here’s the way to do it… without the pain of lifting your head away from your phone!

Prompt Good vibes

With the goal to prompt good vibes between people on the tube, Hello Hub is described as an “introduction service” rather than a dating app. The video shows a couple finding each other on the Tube, magically communicating where WiFI and GPRS still cannot reach. Chats can be initiated by anyone with the app and can be between up to 7 devices within a 50m radius. Playing games like “I spy” gives a shared experience to motivate more interaction between people.

She’s hiring!

2500 downloads have been made so far, mostly in Asia having been featured on the Chinese app store blog. And Nina made a request for expertise as she’s Hiring a tech team. Encouragingly there’s a bigger vision sitting behind this likable concept, exploiting peer to peer networking using Bluetooth mesh and WiFi perhaps in disaster situations. Nina calls this “the local internet”. nina@hellohub.com .

Worth following?

In the Q&A’s we learnt that monetising looks most promising via events (perhaps you’ll meet people at Glastonbury?).

Deeper thoughts behind the concept

There’s clearly deeper thoughts behind the concept than the presentation exposed, and the audience liked that Nina returned to GeoMob, awarding her shared top prize this time after a non-plussed response to her first presentation over a year ago! Well done Nina!



Max – City Cycler (a geovation business)

Max outlines the problem

Life can generally be improved

Life can generally be imporved if we were more active. But there’s a lack of infrastructure, particularly in London, to support cycling. Only the most experienced will survive the journey on 2 wheels in confidence. Newbies to the streets, by contrast, face a barrage of unfamiliar dangers which generally prevents the majority from getting on their bikes in the first place.

With an app!

The answer, cleary, is to make an app. In this case to pair an experienced cyclist (cycle propagator) with an inexperienced one (a fresher). The CPs will add their routes through the apps. The profile of these people is not the typical lycra-lout or mamil (middle aged men in lycra), they have to be self-selecting as “helpful”. The cycle “freshers” can check which profiles are available to see if they really want to follow any particular propogator across town!


Questions from the geomobsters in the audience followed a pattern throughout the evening with main concerns over privacy issues dominating. In this case, does it become apparent where someone lives by the start and end points of the offered journey?
More at www.citycycler.cc


Olivia – Open Sensors – Smart Buildings

Why monitor office spaces?

Open Sensors sells a service involving office based analysis to improve your office design and experience. But what can you measure in a building these days and what do you gain by measuring them? Olivia described how an increasing breed of architects and office designers are latching onto the internet of things and sensor technologies in particular.

It’s about collaboration

Monitoring Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), pollutants, CO2, humidity and temperature may seem the most obvious things to measure to create the best conditions for work. But, in fact, sensors can more effectively be deployed to monitor the outputs of a healthy work environment. For example, how “agile” work practices really are can be achieved by examining collaboration activities, interactions and socialising.

It’s about productivity

Productivity is more valuable than space – even at London property rates. Olivia proposes 10 times as impotant! So the strive to make more productive work areas is strong for any commercial business. A typical office space has just 40% desk occupancy. Ambitiously this could be shifted as far as 120% by designing for collaboration with the use of dedicated phone booths, desks and breakout spaces for example.

It’s about wellbeing

Monitoring factors effecting wellbeing can be used, looking at humidity, CO2 and pollutants for example. These factors can influence the spread of infectious viruses for example; 40% humidity is the ideal to prevent transfer of viruses.
Olivia described the architecture proposed by Open Sensors, adopting the LoRaWAN standard for transmission (at 868MHz). The standard offers low powered, long range transmission with a low data rate.
Architects look at this technology to add value to their proposals.

Izambard – Huq – (Open Cage customer)

Analytics in the real world!

Google is a great reference for all your on-line analytics, but what about real world analytics? When 93% of decisions are made in the real world, does it make sense that 77% of analytics are done on-line?
Watching your movements

Huq looks at how people move, collecting consumer, finance and ratings analytics. They currently monitor 15 million events per day and plan building to 200M this year.

The use case explained how and why; the power of understanding the home location of the people who visit specific retail parks gives you that killer location for your outdoor advertising campaign. More probing data appeared to be the target in their Russian pilot case, allowing you to pin down the characteristics of people visiting coffee shops. However, Isambard was quick to claim that no personal information is gathered.


Q&A reveals that you have to sign up and opt-in to switch the SDK on. Is GDPR a challenge to this technology which clearly needs personal information to reach the laudable benefits? In fact Isambard sees GDPR more as an opportunity to do things more ethically. After all if they design the apps to conform to super-strength European legislation, it will be more ethical than those in other less strongly regulated regimes.

Comments are closed.