Cornwall’s communications coast: satellite, wireless and cable

With February’s Geek’s Guide to Porthcurno, I have now written a trilogy of pieces for The Register on globally important communications sites in the west of Cornwall. The first was on Goonhilly, the satellite earth station which received the first transatlantic TV pictures in 1962, which is finding a new lease of life as a commercial deep-space communications station. Sadly, it remains closed to most visitors, as Goonhilly’s boss Ian Jones focuses on building a sustainable business. Continue reading “Cornwall’s communications coast: satellite, wireless and cable”

Injured at Glastonbury? Three little words will help medics find you

New app What3Words, also used by emergency teams in a cholera outbreak in Tanzania, can help medical services locate ill festivalgoers amid a sea of tents

What3Words, which provides addressing services that work in the most desolate corners of the earth where people live in the most basic conditions, also covers the Glastonbury Festival.
Continue reading “Injured at Glastonbury? Three little words will help medics find you”

Online mapping: Google, OpenStreetMap and Ordnance Survey

For ComputerWeekly.com, I have explored the options available for online mapping and how they are used by councils. Google Maps, OpenStreetMap and Ordnance Survey’s open services all have strengths and weaknesses.

Google Map Oxford
Google Map of central Oxford
OpenStreetMap Oxford
OpenStreetMap of same area

Google Maps are familiar to most people and good on roads, but weak on many other features. OpenStreetMap is in some places excellent – just look at how the two compare in central Oxford, and who knew the Weston Library, not even named on Google, was next to the Cumberbatch Building? (No, not named after Benedict Cumberbatch.)

OpenStreetMap includes details no-one else has such as cycle routes and private paths, but as a crowdsourced operation quality varies. Of course, anyone who wants to can help with improving it. If you just want a map image you can use as you wish, it’s the place to go; just click on the ‘share’ box and arrow logo on the top-right of the screen.

If what you’re mapping is within Great Britain, Ordnance Survey has the most consistent mapping at a uniformly high quality. Its OpenSpace web map builder looks good and is fairly easy to use, although you do need to get an API key and there are a few wrinkles. For example, the HTML code it produces can be used in WordPress, but you need to install a plug-in to make it work. I also cut out some header and footer data in what OS passed on; this could all be a bit easier. Continue reading “Online mapping: Google, OpenStreetMap and Ordnance Survey”