The 2010 World Cup in maps

I’ve spent too much time watching the World Cup in recent weeks to really post anything on here – what better way to get moving again with a look at some of the maps used in web coverage of the tournament in South Africa.

The BBC (Disclaimer:  I work for the BBC, although had nothing to do with this map) turn out a decent venue map with some good photos and brief information on each stadium being used for the tournament in South Africa.

BBC World Cup Map has another example of the classic venue map which offers more in the way of city information but doesn’t really make the best use of the interactivity offered by the map.

The official Fifa website have also gone down the map route for their guide to the host cities of the South Africa World Cup but have only really used the map as a basic piece of navigation, although there is plenty of information about each location when you click through.

The Telegraph newspaper has taken a slightly different approach and simply embedded the Google map for each stadium location within their site – useful for those actually attending the match or visiting the city but less useful for the interested supporter back home.

SA-venues. com have a website dedicated to finding you accommodation in South Africa and have used maps quiet extensively to help you select the best location in a specific World Cup Accommodation section of the site.

SA Venue Map

The main website is quite confusing and it took me a while to work out that selecting a city on the map changed the contents of the right hand column on the page whilst the map often stayed exactly the same, allowing me to select a different city in the same area.

However, I do like the simplified but effective addition of distance markers on the world cup stadium maps to help traveling fans find somewhere to stay within a certain distance of the ground. are claiming a “worlds first” by providing a map that combines Microsoft Silverlight Deep Zoom technology with high definition aerial imagery to  create a really pleasing guide to the world cup venues in South Africa.

According to the press release:

In a pioneering online collaboration, the fields of High Definition (HD) aerial filming and web based mapping have been combined to create the world’s first cloud hosted interactive map that integrates HD aerial footage.

For fans not traveling to South Africa – specifically those living near San Francisco, USA – here’s a handy map for people living in the San Francisco Bay Area produced by the San Francisco Chronicle displaying local places to watch the action live.  Also includes an indication of any national affiliation the venue might have to help you pick the perfect viewing spot for your needs.

And finally… There’s something about a major sporting event, especially one that only takes place every four years, that tempts people to go that extra mile.

The 2010wallsroadtrip blog documents one family’s trip around South Africa, taking in a total of 16 matches, visiting each stadium, and driving over 4,000 km’s in the process.

There’s a Google map of their route on the website with comments and blog posts added as the journey unfolds.

Stickers needed, urgently!

Panini 2010 World Cup Sticker Album

One Panini South Africa 2010 sticker album looking for the following stickers to spend the rest of our lives together in happiness and the joy that comes from being complete.

The following stickers are especially desirable:
1, 80, 91, 110, 133, 137, 138, 174, 175, 185, 250, 266, 273, 289, 310, 315, 336, 341, 352, 362, 367, 400, 407, 410, 417, 419, 424, 428, 430, 432, 437, 457, 527, 539, 544, 592, 597, 634.

And yes, I do really want Danny Shittu.

Thoughts from #JEEcamp 2010

A very enjoyable day spent at JEEcamp 2010 with many clever and interesting people from the world of web journalism.

Plenty of blog posts, photos and links can be found via the #JEEcamp hashtag.

My highlights of the day are summarised in 4 tweets:-

Another Fine Day by Satchel Blue is released

It’s there!

After a long, drawn out release process, including the competition to find our cover artwork, Another Fine Day by Satchel Blue has finally been released on iTunes.

If anyone wants to organise a Rage Against The Machine style charge to the top of the  charts then just let me know.

The Power of the Placename

At the recent Local Business Summit in Amsterdam I spoke about my work at the BBC on location services and mapping and tried to make the point that, as far as our users/consumers are concerned, the place name is all-powerful when it comes to identifying location.

Other means of identifying location (grid references, postcodes, lat/long coordinates) can be very useful for certain applications, particularly when dealing with single sets of data which associate themselves closely to a certain type of identifier, but are not really that useful when displaying location to a user.

The majority of us talk about our local area using the names of the town, road, river, pub, street, or even colloquial terms that would be completely un-familiar to someone who isn’t from the area.

Photo by Flickr user: Eric Kilby

The pagoda roundabout in Birmingham is actually the Holloway Circus roundabout but I’ve only ever heard people refer to it as the former.

The problem with place names is that they are very rarely unique and, unlike more formally defined identifiers, they do not fit nicely with the world of mathematics and software engineering which expects each component to be defined very specifically.

Gary Gale (@vicchi) recently posted an article on the perils of disambiguation which gets to the heart of the problem where geo-tagging is concerned.

A comment from John Fagan on this article suggests that “20% of UK places share the same name”.

Photo by Flickr user: Tim Green aka atoach

Gary also touched on the requirement to identify the concept of ‘place’ in the first, er, place.

For example, within a piece of text, does the word ‘bath’ refer to the place in the West Country or the item of furniture usually found in the bathroom?

We should be able to assume that if content is manually created then human knowledge will differentiate between various types of information and tag accordingly (assuming the tagging/meta-data process is manual).

We should also be able to assume that a user looking for content is very much aware of whether they are looking for ‘Bath’ the place or ‘bath’ the household object.

(An aside – luckily for me ‘Nuneaton’ is unique enough in location terms and in general language to make my latest website, the Nuneaton Guide, fairly easy to pull together using automated methods.)

But in reality, and in a web2.0 world, how many services exist that have this human editorial oversight from production right through to delivery?

At this point most people working in the web world will start talking about the semantic web, a greater understanding of meaning, and how the future web will be able to filter, aggregate, define, and ultimately solve problems such as this.

Web 3.0
from Kate Ray on Vimeo.

But what if the semantic web isn’t the answer?

This is too big an opportunity to leave to chance and I believe we need to start thinking now about how we are going to bring some order and some meaning to the definition and concept of ‘place’.

Geonames have made a good start and, in the UK at least, the free-ing up of Ordnance Survey data surely presents some possibilities.

But what next?

I don’t have the answer but I know that place names are the most powerful tool we have to deliver a sense of localness to our audience and turning the world wide web into a location aware service would be quite incredible.

At the very least we need a world where I can easily find stuff from the BBC about Morecambe the seaside town and, quite separately, content about the late, great comedian Eric Morecambe, without getting this page.

The Nuneaton Guide – My new website

After moving from Birmingham to Nuneaton earlier this year I’ve decided to test out a new local website experiment, moving on from BirminghamB29 to launch The Nuneaton Guide.

I work with local web content and location services for the BBC (although this website is entirely separate and in no way associated with the BBC) so this is a mixture of fun, interest in the area that I now live, and a chance to be ‘hands on’ with local web content in a non-BBC environment.

The site launched on 3rd May so it’s early days right now, but I’ll be looking to add new content and integrate it further with the web activity that already exists in the Nuneaton area over the coming weeks and months.

Please take a look and let me know what you think.

Director, GOV.UK at Goverment Digital Service