It is that time of year

Yup it is the time of year for some reflection and some goodwill unto all men, particularly those in California, Southampton, Denver, Westminster, Haiti, Seattle to hint at just a few.

Thanks to Imelda

Several people have or will shortly pronounce on what they consider to be the geo-events of the year, their favourite maps, the top tips for success in 2011 and a load of other stuff in that vein including OS and Google Maps Mania. So here in reverse order are my top 5 of the year just about to pass.

5. A GeoVation loser turns out to be a winner were one of the GeoVation finalists who although they caught my eye did not get the judges vote. I liked them enough to make an investment and join their board. Things have moved on pretty well since then and I have high hopes for the coming year as we move into new offices in January and start to ratchet things up. It is great to be back in the geogame.

4. Loads of mappy TV and Radio

There was a flurry of TV and radio programmes about maps including Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art on TV and at the British Library (I went 3 times or was it 4?)

3. Open Source – a tipping point in the UK?

The announcement that the UK INSPIRE solution would be developed using Open Source components will perhaps be seen as the tipping point for Open Source Geo in the UK. I summed up my views on why this was important and possibly a game changer in this post, Ian Painter doesn’t agree with me on all of this and makes some good points in the comments.

2. Microsoft and MapQuest embrace OpenStreetMap

If I wasn’t so parochial I would have put this as number 1.

I wrote about the announcements from Bing and MapQuest at State of the Map 2010 and the tension I sensed amongst some of the core volunteers. I suggested that the participation of such big players would inevitably change the the game for OSM. Since that post Cloudmade announced that it had raised $12.3m in a funding round and soon after one of its founders, Steve Coast who also started OSM, jumped ship and shortly after resurfaced to join Microsoft.

If you look at the way MapQuest have integrated editing tools into their site using standard OSM tools you can get a feel for how these two giants could really drive uptake and coverage for OSM.

I expect there will be several more big announcements in 2011, maybe even a mid-sized one from not too far away.

1. OS OpenData (C)

Still think the copyright symbol is a bit ridiculous linked to OpenData, is it the lack of a space that qualifies it for the (c)?

This had to be the number 1 event of the year. After several years of Free Our Data campaigning a brief conversation between Gordon Brown and Sir Tim Berners-Lee unlocked this core data for the Open Data movement, I posted loads of assessment here so I am not going to recap. Suffice it to say that this has helped to unlock the derived data nightmare (still not completely resolved, need to post some thoughts on that soon) helped to get several new initiatives, apps underway and has provided some useful background to OSM which can aid filling in some of the missing GB bits.

I doubt that it will generate the tax revenue for the treasury that some FOD visionaries foresaw but we have a recession to help muddle that issue up so let’s enjoy the data and leave the cost to the treasury (who may cast an eagle eye over the costs of maintaining OS OpenData in the future)


I have hinted at some of my views for 2011 above but let me draw out a couple more themes/predictions:

  • Nearly half of UK GI spend is in the public sector, that market is going to be somewhere between not good and downright awful. It just has to be as the impact of massive cuts washes through to new GI investments and even continuing support and services contracts. On the positive side a squeeze of this scale opens up opportunities for businesses that offer radically different business models and big cost savings. Think shared services, cloud, open source and open data to name just a few.
  • One of the big GI players will either “consolidate” into a specialist niche or be sold to an even bigger player, the field is getting too crowded with new entrants and they aren’t innovating sufficiently fast to buck market trends
  • We will start to see less maps in mobile apps and more “ubiquitous” location that just works.
  • Someone is going to mess up big time with location and privacy
  • One of the big checkin players will check out

Several hostages to fortune there, no doubt some humble pie to be eaten this time next year. If you don’t blog, feel free to add your faves of 2010 and thoughts for 2011 in the comments.

I sometimes wonder whether I write this stuff for myself or for whoever reads it (a bit of both I guess). To all of you who have been kind enough to comment either on this blog or face to face, thanks for following me.

I hope you have a geotastic 2011 or as someone said “make maps not war”

That’s me done for 2010

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