Tayo Sofeso, a Data Officer within OPEN for Future City | Glasgow, attended the GeoData Conference last month. The event took place at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh on the 7th of November 2013. Tayo shares with us his reflections from the day.

The journey starts

I set off from Queen Street station in Glasgow and after an hour had arrived. I was astounded by the magnificent edifice, capped by the wonderful scenery. The gorgeous Arthur’s Seat is visible in the background.

The presentations begin

There were ten inspiring speakers, and I am grateful to all those who made this fantastic event happen. Gearóid Ó Riain from Compass Informatics kicked off with his topic, “GIS – Getting Smart & Mobile”. He advocates the use of portable devices (smartphones and tablets) for data capture. These tablets can act as a survey tool with enhanced GIS capabilities. Surveys have revealed that people who own portable devices tend to use them more often than PC’s.


A Road Management Solution, GeoField designed by Sigma Seven can be used by surveyors to enter attributes about the state of the road. A key feature about this device is that it is location enabled. As you drive along the road, you use a grading system to allocate scores based on the different components of the road, all with the tablet device. There might be questions which will arise from deploying such technique but specialist training is provided to carry out these exercises.

Gearóid went on to speak about Ubipix, an online tool for aggregating and publishing geomedia content. His presentation argued that location-based applications on smartphones made GIS capture and manageability so easy that it was worth every geospatial information professional investing in it.

Measure and map

Christopher McGregor from Historic Scotland was up next and his message was about projects undertaken as part of the Scottish ten projects. His team have surveyed heritage centres across the world, The enhanced level of detail the scanners capture is remarkable. The potential benefits which will arise from this technology are vast and insight into what they do can be seen here.

Map and manage

Neil Featonby of HERE, formerly Ovi Maps (2007–2011) then Nokia Maps (2011–2012), was the next speaker. He spoke about designing custom maps and answering geo-location based questions such as: where is the Brazilian community living in Glasgow? We were told of continuous provision of precision maps by HERE for the purpose of navigation in vehicles and there is a partnership with major car manufacturers, which use their service. A great deal of work goes in the background: about 2.7 million changes are made to the map per day to ensure accuracy of the addresses. Members of the public can help by informing them of any changes to postcodes or addresses that they discover when using their maps.

Old dogs know the best tricks

Mike Ashworth from British Cartographic Society took us back to the fundamentals of map making by highlighting the basic concepts considered by all good cartographers. The 21st century may have provided groundbreaking technology in the world of GIS, but some concepts never change. A useful map should tell a story and possess good, distinct properties in terms of its purpose, scale, symbology and generalisation.

My expectations were surpassed and all the talks were inspiring. I recommend every professional in their distinct field should make time to attend lectures. It expands your horizons to ground breaking technologies and research in your area of expertise.