Grough Map will use crowdsourcing to ensure its mapping is tailored to the needs of outdoor enthusiasts

Grough Map will use crowdsourcing to ensure its mapping is tailored to the needs of outdoor enthusiasts

Today, we’re announcing a new mapping project we hope will revolutionise the way people enjoy their trips into the British countryside.

grough map will use crowdsourcing to ensure details on its digital maps are bang-up-to-date and tailored to the growing number of people taking up walking, mountain biking, trail running and other outdoor pursuits.

And the best news is: it will be free to use. There will be no restrictions on re-using the maps, so you will be able to tell your friends where you’ve been, and share grough map maps on your blog and social networks.

Changes to the maps’ 4 million paths and roads can be made in seconds, using information updates from fellow outdoor fans.

The aim is to give walkers, cyclists, runners and other outdoors enthusiasts the best possible maps for them to plan their outings, find their way and enjoy the great British countryside.

Maps can be printed out or exported to smartphones and GPS units and will be customisable to show the most relevant features for the user’s activity.

The new grough map will be offered to users of the existing subscription-based grough route system, but will also be made available to developers to publish and improve as an open-source project.

Luke Smith, technical director of grough, who led the development, said: “We believe everyone should be able to enjoy the outdoors. Finding out where you can walk should be easy.

“Our maps are different. The process is completely automated, and our emphasis is on creating an automated process that delivers high-quality mapping. This allows us to update our maps in seconds, rather than hours, and makes it simple for everyone to contribute towards the map with valuable information.

The current development version of grough map showing the Helvellyn area

The current development version of grough map showing the Helvellyn area

“This means you can help us to improve the map, by providing information that isn’t included in other mapping products but might be useful for outdoor activities, such as climbing routes or temporary footpath closures. We’ll do our part too, building a database of temporary information –such as footpath repairs and storm damage – and new developments using information our editorial team receives.

“The data that goes into our maps can also be used for other purposes. Our software can use this information to plan routes on your behalf, adapting them for your preferences such as avoiding busy road crossings, exposed edges, or land unsuitable for mountain bikes or those with reduced mobility. We want to make the countryside accessible to everyone.”

grough has set up a website, to enable outdoor enthusiasts and software developers to register an interest in the new mapping, which is expected to go live later this year.

grough map uses a combination of data sources to produce its maps, including open data from Ordnance Survey, OpenStreetMap, Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, 86 local authorities, and the Environment Agency, including LiDAR surveys that use lasers to scan the land.

Incorporated into the database on which grough map runs are 390,000 public rights-of-way records, 15 million outlines of buildings and four million paths and roads available to walkers and cyclists. The whole project has generated about 100GB of data. Maps are produced at a resolution of 200 dots per centimetre, which makes them ideal for printing at home.

The area around Pen-y-ghent in the Yorkshire Dales

The area around Pen-y-ghent in the Yorkshire Dales

Bob Smith, editorial director of grough, said: “This has been a mammoth project but it is nearing the stage where we can make it available for the public to use.

“General-purpose maps produced for outdoor activities in Britain are fabulously detailed, but there is a lot of information on them that’s not relevant to people undertaking walking, cycling, running and climbing trips in the great outdoors.

“grough map has been developed to show clearly the information that’s of most use to outdoors fans, which can be constantly updated by crowdsourcing the latest information from those using it.

“We’re very excited that grough map is nearing the stage where we can release it and see it develop as the prime mapping resource for Britain’s outdoor community.”

More information is on the grough map website.

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