Posts Tagged ‘#geomob’

The Collective Noun For Geo People Is A GeoMob

The Greek Philosopher Heraclitus was fond of saying “the only constant is change” (actually he said “nothing endures but change” but let’s not split hairs). He probably wasn’t talking about meetups and get-togethers in London but this still fits rather well. Events come and go as their themes either go mainstream or fade. But some remain and London’s #geomob is one of those.

Started in 2008 by fellow WhereCamp EU co-conspirator Chris Osborne, #geomob was conceived as London’s answer to Silicon Valley’s popular (and still running) WebMapSocial meetup group. After a brief hiatus in May 2010 when Chris hung up his hat and offered the event to anyone willing to spend the time and effort in running it, #geomob restarted in September of the same year, this time fed and watered by Ed Freyfogle and Vuk Trifkovic of Lokku, the people behind Nestoria and Open Cage Data. It’s been going strong ever since.


But what is #geomob? The name was originally a contraction of London Geo/Mobile Developer’s Meetup. Officially it’s a quaterly meetup for location based service developers. But the geo industry is still small and friendly and I prefer to think of #geomob in the most literal sense of the word, as a mob of geo enthusiasts.

Each meetup takes the same form; a couple of hours of people talking about geo, location and maps related stuff, sometimes with slide decks, sometimes not. The topics range from startups pitching the next big thing, from people who want to share their thoughts and views to topics which are just so out there you wouldn’t believe it (geolocation by subsonic sounds from industrial facilities anyone?). It has to be experienced to be believed. Afterwards, the time honoured tradition of retiring to a nearby pub and the ritual of geobeers is observed.


I’ve been fortunate enough to speak at #geomob not once, not twice but three times. This may be something of a record. The speaker list for the first #geomob of 2014 is already up and you can go and show your interest on Lanyrd too. Did I mention the whole thing is free?

If you live or work in or around London and you want to see what this city is thinking about when it comes to maps, geo or location, I can’t recommend it enough. Once experienced, you’ll never look at a social meetup quite the same again.

Written and posted from Cafe Royal, 101 Cajon Street, Redlands CA (34.05451, -117.18196)

How A Map Can Go Viral (In 8 Simple Steps)

Back in February of this year, at the height of the madness that was the Vaguely Rude Places Map, Ed Freyfogle from London’s #geomob meetup got in touch and asked me to come and tell the story behind the map. This is that story.

And so last night, in the Chadwick Lecture Theatre in the basement of London’s UCL, after listening to some amazing presentations on building a map of mobile cell tower coverage, of building a seismically powered alternative to GPS and a whole host of other great talks, I took my place on the podium and started where any good story needs to start … at the beginning.


Read On…

Of W3G, AGI And Other Geographical Acronyms

In November 2008 I was still working for Yahoo and a fledgling meetup event for people interested in maps, location, geo and mobile started up in London. It was, and still is, called GeoMob. I was at GeoMob’s very first event, talking about Yahoo’s Fire Eagle location brokering platform. Four years later and it was great to go back, see GeoMob still flourishing despite a brief hiatus in 2010, and meet up with a lot of old friends as well as meet some new ones.

And what an evening it was. Truly a veritable feast of maps. David Overton spoke about SplashMaps, his Kickstarter funded project to produce lightweight printable fabric maps for outdoors.

I didn’t think it was possible to map happiness but apparently it is and George MacKerron showed how with the aptly entitled Mappiness project.

Staying with tangible maps, Anna Butler from Wellingtons Travel wowed the audience with her lovingly hand drawn map of the centre of London, styled after the glorious illustrated maps of yesteryear. Almost all the audience immediately added a copy of her map to their Christmas lists en masse.

Awesome hand-drawn map of London is awesome #geomob

And then there was James Cheshire who, along with Ollie O’Brien, runs Spatial Analysis and they’d produced Lives On The Line, a map of the life expectancy of Londoners along the path of the London Underground lines. Not only maps, but Tube maps. What more can you want?

Finally, standing between the audience and a thirst quenching GeoBeer or two, it was my turn. This wasn’t my usual talk. No mapporn. Not even that many pithy or wryly amusing images. Just some raising of awareness for the W3G conference and the AGI. As usual, the slide deck is below and the notes follow after the break.

Read On…

Geomob In A Coma

To paraphrase both Douglas Copland and The Smiths, Geomob, the highly successful mobile/geo/location/place fuelled meetup for geographers, both latent and professional is on hold. Possibly permanently. As Chris Osborne, the founder and organiser, said in an email to all members of the group:

After a wonderful couple of years doing geomob, and the people powered success that was WhereCampEU, I’m afraid to say that I am stepping down to make way for some new blood.

That does mean that there is an opportunity for one or more of you to step up and continue geomob in the spirit it started – free, non corporate, disrespectful and focused on people doing things.

Get in touch if you want to take on the mantle, until then geomob is on hiatus.

Its been a blast

As both Chris and I found out, organising the WhereCamp EU event that took place in London earlier this year was an exhausting, if ultimately rewarding, task. Imagine doing that every other month?

Chris Osborne at Geomob

I hope this isn’t the last we hear of Geomob; it’s been a major contributor to the Geo community in London and has, indeed, been a blast. It also gave me my very first Geo themed public speaking engagement and for that I’ll always be both profoundly grateful and profoundly embarrased at my first stumbling efforts.

If you’re thinking of taking up the role of Geomob organiser, I encourage you to do so; it’s a battering, weary, exhausting and sometimes thankless task in the run up to a meetup. Then you see the audience waiting expectantly , watch the speakers, listen to the Q&A session and before you know it the evening’s over in a rush; you won’t regret it.

Photo Credits: Roman Kirillov on Flickr.
Written and posted from the Yahoo! London office (51.5141985, -0.1292006)

Plenaries, Privacy and Place

Day one of this year’s AGI GeoCommunity conference saw the geoweb track draw a sizeable, if varying, share of the delegate audience; some sessions were crammed tight and reduced to standing room only whilst others had a slightly less cozy but still enthusiastic crowd.

Showing that Steven Feldman, the conference chair, started as he meant to continue, both the introductory plenaries were from people well known in the neogeography end of the geographic spectrum; Peter Batty and Andrew Turner.

Peter started talking about the Geospatial Revolution and about how geo is now mainstream after starting off life as a disruptive technology. He touched on crowdsourcing, neogeography and how geospatial data is really just another data type.

Due to Steven Feldman’s over running welcome plenary, Andrew gave us a view on How Neogeography Killed GIS in record time; talking to an appreciative crowd on place, data, and how neogeographers see GIS professionals (answer: they don’t).

The geoweb track kicked off with Tim Warr, down on the programme as working for Microsoft, announcing “I’m not working for Microsoft as of yesterday” and then promptly launched into a talk on Cloud Computing and GIS; All Hype or Something Useful? and covered the good cloud (accessibility, cost and speed), the bad cloud (security, control and continuity) and the realistic cloud where you don’t put all your clouds in one basket.

I was particularly pleased to see that WOEIDs made their debut at GeoCommunity thanks to Terry Jones and Tom Taylor.

Terry spoke about Using FluidDB for Storage and Location Aware Software Apps. If you haven’t come across FluidDB before, think about it as a wiki database for the web, or as Terry says “Why don’t our architectures let us work with information more flexibly?“; I strongly advise you look into this further and see what potential this platform has. WOEIDs were mentioned to a somewhat bemused audience but with a nice mention of my talk on this topic later today.

Tom took this one step further and gave a well received and insightful talk on the way Flickr are creating crowd sourced neighbourhood definitions from geotagged photos, all tagged with WOEIDs naturally. Tom’s Boundaries microsite shows just how powerful this can be, visualising and displaying neighbourhoods where no official definition exists, such as in London. Tom is a natural evangelist for this sort of data discovery process and caused some wry smiles when he added “I’m not an employee of Flickr or Yahoo! They haven’t paid me to say this“.

I took part in the Privacy: Where Do We Care? panel on location and the implications for privacy which I’ve blogged about earlier.

The day rounded off with a series of soapbox style georants; 15 slides, 20 seconds per slide and with the presenters having no control over the timing. Lots of themes were covered, some serious like Chris Osborne’s ITO World product pitch, some … interesting … like the Pitney Bowes boy’s geojokes, some semi disrespectful like my “Neo this and Paleo that … it’s all just Geo” (which will end up on my SlideShare account as soon as I find a net connection with some bandwidth) and some just rip roaringly hilarious like Ian Painter‘s paeon to palegeography which featured Martin DalyEd Parsons, Darth Vader and Isaac Newton. All of which were received by an increasingly well lubricated crowd from the soapbox arena, also know as the bar.

Photo credit: myself and Jeremy Morley.

Posted via email from Gary’s Posterous

An Unscientific View of Location Usage in London

With the Yahoo! Geo Technologies sponsored, London #geomob meetup coming up this week, this weekend I took a look at how many companies were actively using location within London. No easy task. After much web searching this weekend I took a trawl through those companies tagged as being in London in CrunchBase, the database of tech companies that TechCrunch operates.

Not strictly scientific but then again this is more about gauging a trend than being strictly empirical.

crunchbase_thumbnailMinor detour; in CrunchBase you can search for companies by location with London being flagged as a popular city. For the first page of London companies this works fine, with all the companies being shown within the boundary of the M25 on an embedded Google map. But on the second page it would seem that rather than geocoding the company address, CrunchBase are either doing keyword matching on tokenised text, picking up London Ontario or using the address of a parent company in the continental US. Whatever is happening it looks very odd when a company with an address in London WC2 is shown in Kansas.

The executive summary is that one of the prime drivers, and one presumes source of direct or indirect monetisation, is real eastate and property search, either as a direct USP for a site or as a side effect of a social network community. Another is that Google Maps API integration continues to dominate, both from a geocoding API perspective and as a geospatial presentation layer. I’m also particularly pleased to see innovators within this domain recognise the benefits and appeal of integrating with Fire Eagle, with the disclosure that I’m both a massive fan of Fire Eagle and work for the group within Yahoo! which provides the geotechnology which underpins the Fire Eagle platform.


Online ad network offering geotargeted campaigns.

Archlight Media Technology

Operates Zoomf, a property search engine allowing searches tailored to a range of geo granularities from city to postcode district, though not to postcode sector or unit.

Flight price search and comparison engine; allows geo search by country, city, resort and airport name and IATA code.


Not a location user per se but a media community platform which is particularly strong in championing LBS/LBMS and location in general.


Travel sharing platform with Fire Eagle integration.


Real estate search engine allowing searches tailored to range of granularities from city to postcode district, but again not to postcode sector or unit.


Online travel journal sharing platform. Places/locations are geotagged within each entry via the Google Maps API.

My Neighbourhoods

Service allowing users to find out more about the area in which they live. The service would appear to support full postcode search, which implies PAF licensing, but searches are truncated to postcode district. Biased towards property search, which is supplied via Nestoria.


The “UK’s number one property website”; property searching can be selected by county, city/town/village, borough/suburb, postcode district (again full postcode search is claimed but not implemented) and some POIs. Searches can also be constrained at a distance from the focus of the search.


A location based discovery tool and social search platform which is integrated with Fire Eagle.

School of Everything

Social networking platform which attempts to match tutors with pupils by subject and location.

Where Are You Now?

Travel based social networking platform, which is directly competing with TripUp, HereOrThere and TravelMuse, allowing ‘friends’ met whilst travelling to keep in touch.

Here Or There?

Travel based social networking platform, using Yahoo! Maps based location identification and geotagging.


Job and recruitment inventory platform; offering job searches by county, city/town/village, borough/suburb and postcode district. Searches can also be constrained at a distance from the focus of the search.


Home and property search engine which aggregates content from property portals. Used by Google as a Maps showcase and Yahoo! as a YUI showcase. Nestoria has also recently launched which uses OpenStreetMap as the preferred Maps API and presentation layer.


A ZIP and postcode search engine which offers geocoded databases of localities, ZIPs (to district level), admin hierarchies and subdivisions and centroids in 60 countries. As an example the Jan 2009 update for the UK, with ~37,000 records is on offer for EUR 29.95/GBP 28.00/USD 39.00.