On Saturday I was invited along to speak at Explore 2009 at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) in London. When I lived on the South of England I used to hang out in the RGS a lot. I’ve spent hours going through old expedition reports and looking through their map room. However, since moving to Scotland its not been as accessible to me and its been a few years since I was there in a geographical / expedition capacity.
The Explore Conference is an expedition & fieldwork planning weekend. I went to my first one (or an earlier version of it) over ten years ago and it was a real privilege to be asked to contribute to the expedition strand by Shane Winser and Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop. Escape from the City has already written a good overview of the conference.
My input to the main conference was on ‘Using Mobile Technology on Fieldwork and Expeditions’. In particular though I was asked to steer away from the use of satellite phones as that was being covered in a separate presentation by Simon Thompson.
I had lots of good feedback from the talk and the slides that I used are embedded below (although they have lost some formatting in the transfer to slideshare):
The main points I covered were:
- Sometimes it may be appropriate not to have a satalite phone – It depends on your expedition location.
- Communication back from the field to up-date a blog, record audio, up-load photos etc can be done through a smartphone (such as an iPhone). Advantages of this type of technology is that it is light and easily chargeable with a solar charger.
- Like any mobile service from overseas smartphones can be expensive, particularly for data. It’s worth checking coverage beforehand, looking at international calling cards or taking out a seperate data plan for when you are away.
- In 2004 we used a normal Nokia mobile phone to send SMS messages back from Denali which were then typed up in the UK and up-loaded to our expedition blog. It was cheap, but it worked until we ran out of battery power! (solar panels were not that great in those days!).
- This summer during the Great Divide Expedition I managed to use WiFi hot spots to up-date my Twitter status and keep people informed of my progress. Agin you can search for these in advance online.
- The added value of a smartphone (such as an iPhone) are the Apps. They can add value to your expedition communication strategy and well a providing an electronic field notebook.
Specifically I mentioned the following Apps that I think can add value:
- iPhone notebook (built in)
- Google Maps and Satellite View (built in)
- Ordnance Survey Maps (I use OSBrowserR2)
- Built in GPS for Google Earth Exports (I use GPS recorder)
- Evernote – The ultimate electronic fieldwork notebook!
Demo of evernote below:
Other Apps I mentioned:
- Mobile blogging Apps – Including Typepad, Blogger and Wordpress
- Other fieldwork apps that night be appropriate for children (clinometer, compass etc…)
- AudioBoo – Great because people can subscribe to your Boos through iTunes
- How to take an iPhone screen shot (instructions here)
- The importance of linking social spaces to improve audience and publicize your venture. For example you can use a smartphone to up-date your expedition blog, which will automatically send out an up-date on Twitter which will automatically up-date you expedition facebook page.
- The trick is putting your content where people are – rather than relying on people coming to you.
- Mark Beaumont (Currently on a BBC supported expedition to Cycle the Americas has made excellent use of Social Media on his trip)
- You can also use aggregation sites such as ‘twazzup’ to bring together expedition ‘hash tags’ from different team members to make a real-time expedition handout.
If you were at the presenation – I would be more than happy to answer any questions and as always welcome your feedback. There was a lt to cover in a very short space of time.