Mobile spatial mapping and augmented reality applications for environmental geoscience

Westhead, R.K.; Smith, M.; Shelley, W.A.; Pedley, R.C.; Ford, J.; Napier, B.. 2013 Mobile spatial mapping and augmented reality applications for environmental geoscience. Journal of Internet Technology and Secured Transactions, 2 (1-4). 185-190.

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Modern communication technologies are changing the way we think about spatial mapping information and how we deliver it into the hands of end-users. For geoscience, the challenges are particularly interesting because of the strong three-dimensional nature and sheer richness of the underlying geological information. For several hundreds of years, the favoured method for delivering this information has been the paper map. However, as in the topographical sector, the geosciences have moved rapidly over recent years to digital platforms for effective delivery of spatial information. What we are delivering is still a map, but what it looks like and how it is carried will have changed beyond recognition for earlier surveyors. In particular, new generations of mobile tablet computers and smartphones, which can self-locate using GPS technology, and stream in spatial mapping live to the user, have all but rendered the paper map redundant in many parts of the UK and beyond. Furthermore, the interactive nature of these technologies allows two-way sharing of information, through twinned display of digital maps and live ‘crowdsourced’ collection of point observations. But perhaps the greatest opportunities lie in the use of augmented reality techniques to transform complex three-dimensional information into an easily digestible form for the user. The paper map made an admirable attempt to do this in the geosciences but mobile technologies and software offer the chance to at last display the information in the way it has always existed within the mind of the geological surveyor. This paper describes the informatics research and development work lead by the British Geological Survey (Natural Environment Research Council) which is taking on these challenges and opportunities, and is already beginning to deliver a new and very different generation of the geological map.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This paper can be downloaded from
Date made live: 13 Jan 2014 11:15 +0 (UTC)

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