A gentle man of GI gets an MBE 3


Peter Woodsford, one of the founders and the chairman of LaserScan (now 1Spatial), a former chair of the AGI and the chair of Snowflake Software was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list on Friday for his contribution to the Geographic Information industry.

If ever there was someone who deserved the accolade of “gentle man” it is Peter. A knowledgeable and provocative thinker and innovator in our industry, he is also an outstanding after dinner speaker.

In an interview with the Cambridge News he said:

“When we started, we were just trying to make maps simpler to use – we’re now a part of the knowledge economy.”

Congratulations Peter


3 thoughts on “A gentle man of GI gets an MBE

  • Peter Woodsford

    Dear Steven,
    Thank you very much for you kind words. It has been a very uplifting time for me as the news has spread (a process in itself fascinating to observe) and messages of congratulation have come in from many friends and colleagues around the world.
    The Cambridge News quote got one thing wrong – in the early stages the aim was to make maps easier to produce, not use. I don’t blame the reporter as he had to condense 10-15 minutes of rather relaxed conversation – we were enjoying a splendid meal on a friend’s boat moored on the River Ouse at St. Ives – into a couple of sentences.
    But the fact is in the seventies people were digitising fair drawn compilation sheets in order to cut out the very laborious business of scribing (or copper engraving at UKHO). The digital data was used to drive flatbed plotters to produce masks for printing. Once the map was produced (and archived in analogue form) the job was done – some users didn’t even keep the digital files. The business became known as ‘Automated Cartography’ – old-timers will remember the AutoCarto conferences, including the very successful AutoCarto London in 1986. Then folk realised it was more efficient to update by editing the digital data files and the term ‘Digital Mapping’ came into use. And so onwards and upwards to GI and the Knowledge Economy. Ancient History, but the magnitude of the shifts in thinking involved should remind us of how supple and inventive we will need to be as the future unfolds.

    Thank you again.

    Peter W.

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