“SplashMapsTM”; the latest technologies for the REAL outdoors no longer need batteries!
Hampshire based start-up SplashMapsTM begins a world-wide campaign to put stunningly practical maps into the hands of outdoor adventurers. By creating its own state-of-the art maps on waterproof, washable, and wearable fabrics the company makes maps designed for the REAL outdoors. With the latest in high performance fabrics and print technology the maps withstand the extremes of our weather and never need the delicate and frustrating folds you find in traditional paper and laminated maps.
But the novelty does not end there as Managing Director, David Overton, explains.
“Ordnance Survey (OS) have recently released some excellent digital data under their Open Data agreement” he said. “This has allowed us to combine OS data with the OpenStreetMap data to provide a totally new product that we can tailor to any outdoor adventurer’s needs!”.
The OpenStreetMap (OSM) is the Wikipedia of the mapping world, with all the data coming from “the crowd”. With its origins in the UK but now a global phenomenon, mapping enthusiasts are constantly updating the OSM database with highly detailed and increasingly reliable mapping in digital format. “The data we use is in a vector form,” says fellow Director, Arnulf Christl. “This means we can switch on and switch off certain types of content dependent upon the end use of the map. We can change colours and symbols used in the map and so are not restricted to the “normal” look of a paper map. We can even tailor the scale of the map dependent on how far you want to travel in your hobby…”, ever gone off the edge of a map whilst running or cycling? “…and we have developed technology that will allow users to select the point upon which to centre the map.”
As the OpenStreetMap is a truly global phenomenon, the business’ ambitions do not stop at our own shores. “There is a ready market in outdoor adventures and it’s growing fast,” says Overton. “Our research shows that mountain bikers and walkers prefer a scale somewhere between the two scales typically used in paper maps, so for our initial maps in the UK we are going for 1:40 000 and rolling out our first map in the New Forest”. And part of the beauty of this map is that you can always keep it close to hand by stuffing it in a sleeve, up your shorts or tying it around your head as a bandana, or your neck like a scarf.
The company plans to provide maps for each of the 15 national parks of Great Britain by April, by which time the user will be able to select anywhere in the country. Within 2013 the global offering will extend the company’s reach and international interest is already gathering pace.
“Already I am getting mail from enthusiasts in the USA who want to walk some of our great national trails in the UK” says Overton. “In fact we have even been asked to provide the map for the GeoNext conference in Australia”. Martin Von Wyss, the event organiser said he wants the map as the SplashMaps’ use of open and volunteered data “…represents a clever spin on the difficulty of publishing and distributing maps these days.” Indeed the potential for SplashMaps has now been spotted by the World Bank in humanitarian applications in Africa. Mark Iliffe, World Bank Geospatial Innovation Consultant said of the maps, “The paper maps produced just don’t stand-up in that environment, having something like a Splashmap would be fantastic.”
Overton showed SplashMapsTM to the mapping and technology experts at University College London for the recent #geomob gathering. At the event Gary Gale, Director of Places for Nokia, co-founder of WhereCamp EU: “It’s maptastic” and “Nice to see SplashMapsTM as a real tangible thing to hold, even if it is a prototype it’s still impressive”.
SplashMapsTM is being crowd-funded, and is one of the first ideas in the UK to use the Kickstarter platform to raise funds. The process is simple; if you like the idea of a SplashMapsTM, for example, you can make a pledge via the Kickstarter web site (just follow www.splashmaps.co.uk). Each pledge (anything between £1 and £750) gets a reward dependent upon how much is pledged. On the whole, you get a very good deal for making your pledge (thanks, maps, unique maps and invitations to a launch party are some of the rewards). But more importantly you’ll get a rosy glow of pride from supporting a fledgling innovative business and the open and volunteer data eco-systems it supports. If the company is successful in reaching its funding target those that made the pledges reap the rewards and SplashMapsTM gets some useful funds to develop the back-office technology and fund the early print-runs.
“This is a truly innovative project. We’re embracing the wisdom of crowds in both our funding and in our data content. Normally open data is only seen in digital applications. But by creating these maps we are[D1] making the open data ‘Tangible’ in order for people to see the value of the OpenStreetMap and the real benefits Tim Berners-Lee envisaged of open data initiatives at places like the Ordnance Survey,” says Overton. “We are also working to encourage more contributors to the OSM to ensure this valuable resource becomes the best source of consistent mapping across the globe”.
Other quotations from key people in the geo-technology market:
Ed Parsons, the Geospatial Technologist of Google: “Great stuff .. can’t wait to use my SplashMap – Good luck David and Arnulf !!”
Ian Holt, Geospatial Developer Evangelist, Ordnance Survey “Ever thought that your nice walking map is big, awkward, gets soggy in the rain, cannot possibly be folded back into its original shape? Well what you need is a map from the guys at Splashmaps!”
Jennifer Allen, Business Analyst at Nokia “I like maps. And I like when people do clever things with them too.”
SplashMapsTM is a Limited company based in Chandlers Ford Hampshire and was incorporated in November 2012.
David Overton was the Innovation Manager at Ordnance Survey before starting his own consultancy, dbyhundred Ltd in 2009. Since then he has been consulting, project and bid managing on some of the most influential European projects concerning geographic information. Recent successes include winning the Geospatial World Forum award for implementing European spatial data policy with the ESDIN project (a European Spatial Data Infrastructure) and successfully winning a bid for a Euro 14M expansion of this work to create a European Location Framework together involving 30 partners.
Arnulf Christl is a spatial systems architect and has worked around making digital maps for two decades. He is an Open Source advocate and charter member of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation which he co-founded in 2006. Since OSGeo’s inception he helped to shape the organization as a member of the board of directors and was OSGeo’s president in the past four years. Outside this volunteer time he consults to National Mapping Agencies around the world helping them to design, set up and organize map and data services to serve the public interest.
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