#30DayMapChallenge teaches an old dog, new tricks

The #30DayMapChallenge was created by Topi Tjukanov, a Finnish GIS Consultant who wanted to showcase GIS and modern cartography to the world.

The social media challenge lasts for the duration of November and asks cartographers and GIS specialists across the world to create a map a day in line with the theme set by Topi.

Our GIS Manager, Marcus Humphrey - who has seven years’ experience in the industry and manages Bell Ingram’s complex GIS projects - has undertaken the challenge and has been surprised at what he has learned along the way.

Being part of the #30DayMapChallenge was an opportunity to showcase GIS and cartography creatively, while pushing myself out of my comfort zone to visualise data in a different way.

With COP26 as the backdrop for November, the challenge came at a pivotal moment for the land management and renewables industries, which allowed me to create maps that were not only related to my day-to-day work at Bell Ingram but also hugely topical.

Using woodland for carbon capture was a hot topic at COP26 and is the bedrock of what our foresters do day in, day out. With that in mind I produced two maps showing the best places and worst places for planting in Scotland, as well as an interactive web-map showing some of the datasets that could be used to help work out feasibility for woodland or peatland carbon projects.

On a personal note, I used the challenge to finally map areas that I have always wanted to create. Growing up in London, taking the underground was part of daily life but I was always amazed at just how difficult it was to map schematically using GIS in the past. For the metamapping theme I investigated new changes on the QGIS platform and was pleased to see updates that made mapping the underground with GIS possible.

The most challenging theme came on Island(s) day. I have always wanted to map the pilgrim’s way from the coast of Northumberland to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, of which there is no accurate published GIS map. There is a marked route of poles showing the pilgrim’s way but no definitive answer on the number. Through a variety of sources from modern and historical maps, aerial imagery and good old fashion investigation within the local community, I was able to produce the first accurate GIS map of the pilgrim’s way.

Despite working in GIS for as long as I have, I was surprised to learn just how difficult some open data is to analyse and showcase effectively, with several maps just not making the cut. I discovered some new parts of GIS that I hadn’t used before and tried out some brilliant new software and tools which allowed me to show data in new ways I haven’t tried before.

It was also great to see the GIS and cartography industry as a whole showcasing just how creative we can be through data. Thirty themes may sound like a lot but there are hundred of different industries to be explored within these and the options to display data through GIS are endless.

The challenge also showed me just how varied and powerful cartography and GIS can truly be and how visualising data through maps will always be important and can shine a light on information in a completely different way.

But most importantly, the challenge reaffirmed that anything and anywhere really can be mapped.

For more information on Bell Ingram’s GIS Mapping service contact email Marcus Humphrey marcus.humphrey@bellingram.co.uk or call 01738 621121.

Article posted on 01/12/2021

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