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Discussion: Making an Orienteering Map in Seven Basic Steps

in: Orienteering; General

Sep 9, 2020 1:24 PM # 
A new slide show trying to demystify the process of orienteering mapping.
Does it work for the non-mapper orienteer?
Sep 15, 2020 2:29 PM # 
Gordon. I think it works for those who do not map to give them some idea of what is involved. What is needed is a video showing the details of how to do some of the things in the slides. (Getting Lidar data and moving it to OOM, adding a satellite photo as a template, etc). This might help get more people involved in trying to map.
Sep 15, 2020 6:17 PM # 
Sherlock, I hope you are not suggesting I make a video. I look at those YouTube videos on doing this or that in orienteering and so many are just tough to listen to. Any from me would certainly be worse.
What makes them not so good? Not the content but the inevitable monotone voice that narrates. It takes skill to narrate. People go to school to learn radio and TV arts. I didn't and I think most orienteers didn't either.
So I produce power point things. Here's one on Producing simple orienteering maps It was done several years ago and may have skipped contour import as the area is so flat.
Besides OCAD which I use makes importing LiDAR files so easy compared to OOM.
Sep 15, 2020 9:56 PM # 
This topic (video vs text) has come up recently with some friends of mine, and I shared that if I'm trying to find the answer to something and the result I click on is a video-based answer, I immediately swear at my computer and go back and find the next result. I'm not alone in this.

The biggest problem with video is that you have no idea what is coming and it's difficult to scan or go forward and back for exactly what you need, at least compared to text. Also, videos are generally an excruciatingly slow way to get information (even if you watch at 2x).

I think one solution to this is to have slides/text with very short videos embedded. That way, if someone wants to see something demonstrated, they can still scan/find/scroll to find what they want, and then just see a short clip of that material. There doesn't even have to be talking! Just a screengrab of the clicks required.

I think the same would hold for mapping topics, a subject where everyone has different knowledge gaps. And, of course, some people DO like the video format and learn better by watching something demonstrated. It's still likely more convenient for them to be able to repeatedly click on the clips they need, rather than a single long video.
Sep 16, 2020 4:28 AM # 
I think we should have a wiki that is always growing and up kept instead of one time single person owned artifacts.
Sep 16, 2020 5:22 AM # 
There is quite a lot out there to help with learning to map. If someone want to they can find it. The problem is that these resources cover the curriculum that is jurisdiction independent. The hard part is learning how to access base map resources within your own jurisdiction.
Sep 16, 2020 6:45 AM # 
All true Neil.
But the only base material that is region specific is the contour detail. In North America it is usually the states or provinces that fund and control access to that material. Sometimes it rests with the local government, too and in Florida with a body called the Water Management Board of which there are several for the different regions in the state. The USGS seems to function as a national clearing house for LiDAR material generated elsewhere.
However the other base information - the basic outline of the map, the detail from air photos are all freely available on the Internet. An orienteering mapper can even find 10 m contours -I know not usually good enough - from anywhere in the world and can generate contour detail using google earth 3-D images at any contour interval for anywhere in the world.
But why would they bother? Well in my case it is just to see what is there. I had a great-aunt and a great-great aunt - both spinsters - who back in their day travelled the world and collected postcards and stamps from the places they had been. My hobby seems to be making orienteering maps - or pseudo orienteering maps - from places I have not been. Vatican City? - got it, Ulan Bator? - got it. White House? - got it, Kremlin?- got it. Antigua ? had it. Areas in Montana? California? Alabama,? Minnesota? Michigan? New York? New Jersey? Virginia? Massachusetts? Got them. Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec? Got them, too.
Sep 17, 2020 2:35 PM # 
We’re creating a space in the OUSA education resources to do something for mapping like we did with Basic Orienteering. (“Basic Mapping?”)

I am a hopeless mapper and can’t create that content. I could help with the curriculum development side, though.

Anyone up to take that on?
Sep 18, 2020 8:52 AM # 
Well, I see comments dried up here as soon as someone asked for some actual work to be done.
There are two things I think every orienteer who wants to be a really good orienteer should learn to do. That is set courses and make orienteering maps. They don't have to become pros but it will really help them better their competitive skills if the know what goes into the make up of the playing field.
So yes there should be room in the national website for basic mapping, basic course setting, too.
Course setting standards and methods are pretty straightforward.
Mapping is a different story so should be handled differently. For example three of the best mappers I know are known around here as BChubb, sberg and Canadian. They all produce excellent maps. So do many others but what I know of their mapping techniques is that they are very different from each other in the tools they use and how they use them but they all come up with the same result.
Also the way one approaches a school or park map for local teaching will be vastly different from the time and resources put into a map for a national event. It should be thus.
So I suggest those interested in producing the mapping education resource scour the country for the the best mappers of each type of map and invite them/ implore them to contribute to a show and tell about what they are doing and how they are doing it.
Old timers such as Dominie, Weyman, Hicks, Gagarin have so much to teach the new generations of mappers (sorry to leave out so many names but you get the idea)
A lot has already been produced. Maybe it is already around and just needs to be brought into one clearing house and vetted.
Me? Yes I'll help in the limited areas where I have developed some experience and a bit of success. However I sure would like to know where to turn to find out how to troubleshoot when my Garmin GLO won't communicate with OCAD on my Dell tablet. Then how to keep my nice pencil marks from eventually smudging on the Mylar I take in the field. Would disposable gloves help?
Sep 18, 2020 9:25 AM # 
And back at me.

Mapping education is on my to do list, but not top priority and not completely in my portfolio as VP Youth. If people have resources they really like, drop me an email with a link and I'll start a collection. At some point, we'll get it put together into a coherent curriculum. But I've got too much on my plate with everything else to be the driver behind this happening. Basic Orienteering and ODM involved about 300 hours of work each, and those were areas in which I had expertise and teaching experience. I don't get paid to do this, so if you really want this to happen, please lend a hand. Every recommended video, link, or file can be really helpful.
Sep 18, 2020 10:16 AM # 
At some point in history O-USA had a mapping committee. Has it been disbanded/ discarded? Perhaps when the maps were finally standardized and computer mapping software became the norm some thought the job was done.
Not so. A lot of teaching/ information sharing has to be done and not by the VP Youth and probably not by some aging snowbird, either.
Sep 18, 2020 11:15 AM # 
Yes, it was disbanded. I specifically remember when the chairman of that committee said that there was no further need for it.
Sep 18, 2020 11:45 PM # 
Yes. There's probably no need for advice/exhortation/compliance to mappers about the changes to ISOM. Or the changes to the changes. Or the changes to the sprint spec. Or the changes to the changes to the sprint spec.
Sep 19, 2020 12:43 AM # 
I think that creating a mapping course could be helpful, but you need to look carefully at what exactly you are trying accomplish. In many respects, a constantly updating WIKI type solution, like Peteris suggests, with community buy in would likely be more beneficial rather than a static course that gets out of date quickly as tools change. Part of the reason for this is that mapping is really diverging into three different streams, which while related, require different tools, skillsets, and time commitments. Roughly, these three categories are:

  1. Traditional Forest Orienteering Mapping This is the type of map a competitor would use at a major competition. It has a good basemap (likely LiDAR based, but maybe not), is properly fieldchecked by a mapper who has visited every single speck of the terrain, decided what is relevant and what is not, and drawn the map appropriately. For clubs, these maps are expensive and take a long time to make, but can also be a 20+ year legacy project (in certain ecosystems, and if it is kept up to date with some small corrections like trails). For mappers, this type of mapping takes a very long time to get good at, and an even longer time to master. It requires a lot of terrain interpretation, generalization, and decision making. The first dozen or so forest maps made by a mapper will slowly get better in quality, but it takes at least that many to hone the craft. The final product is a work of art though. Simply put, it is really hard to teach somebody this type of mapping, because most of it is endless hours of practice and experience that is very hard to replicate in an online course.
  2. Urban Sprint Mapping: This type of mapping is much easier for a beginner to do. While there is definitely a lot of practice needed to make an excellent map, these areas tend to be smaller, and the early mapping products more usable than forest mapping. At an entry level, there is simply less decision making to do. Is there a tree, or is there not a tree? If there is, put it on the map, if there isn't, don't! None Very Little of this deciding what is big enough to be on the map and what isn't. The barriers to entry of this sort of map making are much lower, as you can get by without processing any LiDAR (you really just need to download OOMapper, and take some potentially illegal screenshots from google maps and you can get a decent map), georeferencing is not as critical, and the fieldwork is much faster and easier. Some N.A. clubs like GVOC (Vancouver) have had excellent success at using club mappers who make 1 or 2 maps ever, to help broaden the number of locations they can use for weeknight trainings.
  3. Computer or Partially Computer Generated Mapping: This type of mapping is the newest to the scene. Starting with Karttapullautin, this has exploded into a fast, cheap way of making decent quality orienteering maps for personal training, or club level events. In less than a day, you can go from nothing, to something you can train on for weeks, all without leaving your couch. Several different N.A. individuals like GSwede, Chris from Northline Navigation, Runner99, Peteris, and lots of others pump out maps left right and centre at minimal time and financial cost. These maps are not to the same standard as traditional forest maps, and generally do not function well for urban sprint mapping, but for a specific use case are excellent. It can definitely be intimidating to start this type of mapping though, and some sort of helpful walkthrough would likely be beneficial to a lot of people. The closest I have seen to a good source of this is Greg Wilson's series of tutorials, but as static information from 2017, is a little out of date now. As Gord says though, the hardest part of all this is often getting the LiDAR data itself, every jurisdiction has their own little quirks, and a national or international how-to guide just won't be able to keep up with how quickly this stuff changes at a more local level.

TLDR: Orienteering mapping has a lot of variation within it, and if you invest time and money into making mapping ressources, know why you are doing it, who you are doing it for, and what you expect its lifespan will be.
Sep 19, 2020 9:13 AM # 
dbakker, really nicely put. Thank you.

I wonder if there are some ways to structure an intro to mapping around key principles, and then have the wiki portion as the "how to?"

Regarding the wiki, cmpbllj and I have had a similar conversation about how hard it would be to maintain an effective video because 1) there are multiple approaches to achieve similar results and 2) the technology and practice is evolving so rapidly. It seems to me that a good approach might be to introduce the principle you're trying to achieve (for example, place point features accurately - just making that up, don't know if that's a good basic principle), examples of approaches to do so, and then an exercise so the student can try doing it on their own, and then probably a place to post it for feedback from teaching staff and other students.
Sep 19, 2020 2:19 PM # 
The Orienteering Association of Western Australia did a great job of outlining the steps in its "Step-by-Step Guide to Making Parkland, School and Street Orienteering Maps."

1. Select a suitable area
2. Obtain permission to use the area
3. Prepare a base map
4. Select the map scale
5. Do the field work
6. Draft the map
7. Print the map
8. Archive the map

Step 3 has become very technical with the preparation of Lidar data and the use of GIS tools and Kartapullautin to generate an orienteering style basemap. There are many software tools and more becoming available. i.e. the new PDAL package mentioned earlier. The basic outline is relatively stable, but the software for basemap generation is changing rapidly.

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