Magnetic Declination Used by Reed Wablers During Migration

While locating one’s latitudinal location is not a problem, determining one’s longitudinal location could be quite difficult. It took scientists a long period of time to accurately identify a person’s location. People who navigate the seas used to have difficulties finding their location. Explorers later on devised the use of time keeping to solve this dilemma.

Birds however seem to have learned way ahead of us. They journey long distances yearly and always gets to their destinations accurately. How do they do that? Do they know the map? Have you ever wondered how birds find their way when migrating from one place to another?

Previous studies have suggested that birds and other creatures uses the Earth’s magnetic field as a way to traverse. But these studies have not really determined how exactly it works. Scientists have been trying to discover the mechanisms.

Recently, experts have just found out that migratory birds use the geomagnetic map on their journey. They have the ability to detect the difference in location of the true north pole and the geomagnetic north. These birds use this ability to approximate their position hence helping them orient themselves to their destinations.

A recent experiment was conducted by Richard Holland and Dmitri Kishkiniev of Bangor on mature Reed warblers on their yearly migration from Russia to Africa. During this study, the researches captured mature and immature Reed warblers temporarily in specialized cages and studied their reactions under controlled magnetic fields. They found out through this experiment that a slight change on the magnetic field can elicit substantial reactions on the birds.

Furthermore, the same change did not have similar effects on immature birds. They did not adjust properly to the changes in the magnetic signal. Rather they were confused indicating that this innate reaction is learnt by the mature birds through years of experience.

This innate sense, combined with other factors such as the physical environment and wind direction helps the birds migrate to faraway places.

There are still a lot of questions that are left unanswered about how these migratory birds and other animals learn to explore around. They also still have to find out whether or not other birds and animals also use the same sense. But these findings are very important in understanding their migratory characteristics.

And maybe in the future, we might find this information useful in human navigation. We may probably try to consider using this magnetic fields in aerial, nautical, and terrestrial transport systems and even in simple daily activities, such as navigating through a new place in an while riding streetstrider elliptical bike.

The useful ideas could be countless and hundreds of studies has to be done but with the rate that science is on nowadays, it is not an impossibility.

Advisory Board of the Geo for All Initiative

We are pleased to announce the Advisory Board of the Geo for All Initiative:

  • Professor Georg Gartner (ICA President co-chair)
  • Jeff McKenna (OSGeo President co-chair)
  • Professor Josef Strobl
  • Professor Marguerite Madden
  • Professor Mike Jackson
  • Sven Schade
  • Gavin Fleming
  • Sergio Acosta y Lara
  • Dr Chris Pettit
  • Professor Venkatesh Raghavan
  • Geoff Zeiss
  • Jeroen Ticheler
  • Phillip Davis
  • Arnulf Christl
  • Professor Maria Brovelli
  • Dr Rafael Moreno

The ICA-OSGeo Lab network is a joint initiative of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) and the International Cartographic Association (ICA). The ICA and OSGeo Presidents will be the co-chairs and permanent members of the Advisory Board. Others will have a 3 year term starting date of the Advisory Board being constituted (1 Dec 2013). The Advisory Board has brought together an excellent range of expertise (academia, government, industry) and geographical distribution (we have nearly all continents covered). Also it brought together members from other key communities ISPRS, AGILE, INSPIRE, UNIGIS etc which will make sure is it a fully inclusive global initiative. The Advisory Board will meet once every six months by telemeeting and AB members will keep an eye on the developments and provide strategic advice to the initiative through various forums.

While there has been tremendous growth in geospatial technology over the last few decades, the number of universities offering courses in geospatial science has not kept pace. Free and open geographic information (GI) software helps make geospatial education available to students from economically poor backgrounds worldwide (removing the need for high cost proprietary GI software). Our key aim is to make it possible for students in developing and poor countries to be also able to get geospatial education. This initiative will bring more opportunities for geospatial education worldwide. Over 50 Open Source Geospatial Labs have already been established in universities around the world as part of this initiative in just two year’s time, and we will be establishing over 100 research labs worldwide by September 2014.

We will have over 500 labs established worldwide in the next five years making us the biggest geospatial education and research network on the planet and we now have a good team of experts to guide us for the future. Welcome to all members of the Advisory Board and we are looking forward to their advice and ideas for expanding this education initiative globally!

We thank all of you for your strong support for this education initiative and it is very happy for us that our initiative has now grown rapidly from very humble beginnings and is helping to widen the benefits of geospatial education opportunities to thousands of students worldwide.
Suchith Anand

President’s Blog: Seasons Greetings

Dear collegue and friend of ICA,
The year 2013 was in many ways a most successful year for cartography and the International Cartographic Association.
We are witnessing an enormous popularity of maps. Today maps can be created and used by anyone with just modest computing skills from virtually any location on Earth and for almost any purpose. Cartographic data may be digitally and wirelessly delivered in finalized form to the device in the hands of the users or they may derive the requested visualization from downloaded data in situ. Real-time data handling and visualization are other significant developments as well as location-based services and mobile cartography. We see a significant interest of big companies to participate in these developments as well as an ever growing number of map users.
We are witnessing growing awareness for the relevance of communicating spatial data efficiently through maps. Maps and cartography play a key role for our society, economy and decision making processes and this becomes more and more understood by governments, authorities, companies and the society, thus driving developments such as Spatial Data Infrastructures and Service-oriented Cartography. It was interesting to see, that the United Nations Initiative on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) is confirming this statement exactly, because maps are most efficient in enabling human users to understand complex situations. Maps can be understood as tools to order information by their spatial context. Maps can be seen as the perfect interface between a human user and all those big data and thus enable human users to answer location-related questions, to support spatial behavior, to enable spatial problem solving or simply to be able to become aware of space.
Cartography is facing fast, challenging and demanding developments. But on the other hand its highly rewarding to contribute to cartographic research, developments, applications or products. Such contributions have been done under the umbrella of the many, many activities of the International Cartographic Association in 2013, with the International Cartographic Conference in Dresden as highlight!
Therefore I would like to use this opportunity to thank all of the many commission chairs, commission members, committee members, participants at ICA events, correspondents, cartographers and GIScientists or simply friends of ICA which have contributed to the further development of our most attractive, modern and relevant discipline!
With this I would like to express my sincere seasons greetings and wish all of us a most successful, interesting cartographic year 2014!
Georg Gartner
President of the International Cartographic Association

First International Joint Workshop on Ubiquitous, Pervasive and Internet Mapping

The First International Joint Workshop on Ubiquitous, Pervasive and Internet Mapping, held in Tokyo from September 7th to 9th, 2004, is sponsored by the International Cartographic Association (ICA) Commission on Ubiquitous Mapping, the ICA Commission on Maps and the Internet, the Center for Spatial Information Science (CSIS) at the University of Tokyo, the Geographic Information Systems Association (GISA) of Japan, and the Japan Cartographers Association (JCA).

The proceedings provide technical papers selected by the program committee one month prior to the workshop. The most recent versions of these papers will be made available on the program pages of the Ubimap website ( in downloadable PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format. The contributors are from eight different countries, presenting a wide variety of topics reflecting their own research circumstances.

The ICA has adopted a Strategic Plan for 2010, initiated at the general assembly held in summer 2003, and it has come time for each of the ICA commissions to begin implementation of the prescribed strategic goals. Research under the ICA is generally performed by the commissions and working groups, and new commissions such as the Commission on Ubiquitous Mapping are expected to provide new directions for the ICA. In the 1960s and ‘70s, when digital technologies for cartography were first introduced, the main objective was to replace human labor with machine processing.

This represented the birth of “automated mapping”, and digital mapping techniques were soon to be applied for mapping based on aerial photography and ground surveys. In the 1980s, geographic information system (GIS) technology was introduced as a thematic mapping technique for applications such as land management and spatial analysis using a range of databases.

This period also marked the introduction of interactive mapping, although the first tools were very difficult to manipulate and could only be used effectively by specialists. In the 1990s, with the advancement of personal computers and the introduction of high-capacity storage such as CD-ROM, multimedia cartography began to be utilized to present spatial information in an interactive way using photographs, video, text and voice to enhance map functionality. In the mid 1990s, the Internet began to allow users to access to an immense variety of spatial information.

The integration of global position system (GPS) functionality also allows a user’s actual position to be projected onto a map. This advancement, coupled with wireless communication technologies, eventually lead to consumer applications such as in-car navigation systems.

Since 2000, cellular phones and wireless data assistants have begun to provide real-time, egocentric mapping functions in a wireless environment, representing a new direction for mapping technology and utilization. To meet the rapidly evolving mapping environment, a number of commissions have been established over the last two decades, including the Commissions on Map and Spatial Data Use, Map Use, and Maps and the Internet. Other commissions such as the Commissions on Cartographic visualization, Cartographic generalization, and Theoretical Cartography, have examined different theoretical and cognitive approaches to mapping.

The Commission on Ubiquitous Mapping was in fact established out of a need recognized by the Commission on Theoretical Cartography. The Terms of Reference for the Commission on Ubiquitous Mapping are as follows:

  •  to organize regional workshops and site observations to determine the contemporary situation of mobile, car-navigation and location-based mapping;
  •  to clarify the similarities and differences between the various systems to establish an evaluation scheme; and
  • to enshrine the concept of Ubiquitous Mapping in the domain of Theoretical Cartography.

An important question that many might ask at the end of the workshop or the four-year term of the commission is: What is ubiquitous mapping?

To aid discussion at the workshop, a simple principal framework for ubiquitous mapping, or UbiMap, is provided below.

  1.  Maps provide a framework for relative or absolute spatial positioning and are presented primarily in visual form.
  2. GIS tools differ from UbiMap tools in that GIS is oriented toward data input, database building, data analysis, and data output (map), whereas UbiMap is human-oriented, emphasizing the interaction between the output map and human reactions including spatial cognition, decision making and communication.
  3. UbiMap is strongly influenced by changes in the technical environment. Advances in information technology, including the development of wireless systems, high-density data storage and broadband communications, stimulate and facilitate dynamic, personalized mapping.
  4.  “Ubiquitous” mapping technologies are defined as those that allow users to utilize and create maps anywhere and which allow any point in the map to be visualized at any time.
  5. The concept of a “map” should be replaced with the concept of “mapping” in UbiMap, as digital maps allow for real-time creation and manipulation. Thus, users can create maps to resolve spatial problems in any situation through the use of advanced technologies.
  6.  The concept of ubiquitous mapping refers to the ability for users to create and use maps in any place and at any time to resolve spatial problems.
  7. UbiMap consists of three basic elements: the real world, the map, and the user (spatial image in the human), with interactions between each element.
  8. UbiMap applications can be described in terms of five principles;  (1) the situation or context, (2) the definition of the problem, (3) strategic planning, (4) the solution process, and (5) results and evaluation.
  9. The major related research areas include information technology, information design (visual communication), spatial cognition and urban spatial design.
  10. UbiMap should also consider how UbiMap tools can be introduced into society, and predict the effect on society.

Following the General Assembly of ICA last summer (2003), the Commission on Maps and the Internet proposed that a joint workshop be held with the Commission on Ubiquitous Mapping in Tokyo. One year later, this workshop has become a realization, and every effort has been made to present the actual situation of UbiMap in Tokyo.

The purpose of the workshop is to highlight the differences in UbiMap implementations between countries, recognizing that UbiMap depends on both the social infrastructure and physical structure of a city. Thus, it is anticipated that much of the material presented at the workshop will be new an unusual to many of the participants.

The workshop therefore represents an opportunity to discover new ideas and identify similarities, stimulating further discussion and innovation.

Our sincerest gratitude is extended to all contributors and the many local staff who helped make this workshop a reality. September 2004, Tokyo Takashi MORITA Chair of the Program Committee, International Joint Workshop on Ubiquitous, Pervasive and Internet Mapping, 2004 Chair of the Commission on Ubiquitous Mapping, International Cartographic Association Chair of the Executive Committee, Japan Cartographers Association Professor of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Hosei University, Tokyo

Call for Participation

Third International Joint Workshop on Ubiquitous, Pervasive and Internet Mapping (UPIMap2008), Shepherdstown, West Virginia, USA September 10 – 11, 2008 (immediately following AutoCarto2008)

The ICA Commissions on Ubiquitous Mapping and Maps and the Internet announce a workshop in USA, at the beginning of September 2008. The workshop is sponsored by the Commission on Ubiquitous Mapping, the Commission on Maps and the Internet. The ICA Commissions were formed in 2003 and 1999 respectively in response to the rapid growth in the use of electronic networks to make and distribute maps and spatial data, and the rapid diffusion of new mobile devices. The purpose of the workshop is to bring together international specialists in the field of Mobile Mapping, Location Based Services and Internet Mapping, and to disseminate information to a broader audience on new developments and major areas of research.

We had experience of ubiquitous mapping environment at UPIMap2004 in Tokyo; visit of the Tokyo metropolitan traffic control center and the VICS (Vehicles Information Control System) center for car navigation system, on site demonstration of commercial human and car navigation systems using cellular phone and in car system respectively. At UPIMap2006 in Seoul, we had similar experience. It will be a good chance to have another experience in USA especially where world famous systems, such as Google Earth and iPhone, were created and in use. We will be able to discuss about questions of globalization and localization of UPIMap in the context of different culture and environment for systems. We will have on site demonstrations of different application systems using the vast terrain of the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC). More details of the workshop will be available from the Web <>.

Important Dates
June 20, 2008 – Abstracts Due (300-500 words)
July 10, 2008 – Notification of Acceptance
August 10, 2008 – Working Papers due for Paper Sessions
September 10 – 11, 2008 – Workshop in Shepherdstown

[Full Version of Call for Papers (PDF, A4 Size)]

Takashi MORITA
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Hosei University
2-33, Ichigaya-Tamachi, Shinjyuku-ku,