IMBA, Rails to Trails, and National Geographic presentation

Today I was at the National Bike Summit. There were great talks, kicked off by Congressman Blumenauer from Portland and a really inspiring talk about Black Women on Bikes – this is a group in DC that has fun and acts as role models. But the presentation by the president of Rails to Trails, the cartographer from IMBA, and Frank Biasi, from National Geographic seems most relevant to wikimapping.

Before I go on, here are some important links:

GeoStories Project,
Rails to Trails TrailLink,
International Mountain Biking Association,

So… What was my take-away from this?

Keith Laughlin, the President of Rails to Trails, said that the power of a digital map is central to RTC’s mission. It helps them track the 21,000 miles of trails relative to populations,with the goal of having 90% of the US population within 3 miles of a trail. They share their data with google, and in return they get free advertising. Rails to Trails is working hard to get a trails app completed by spring.

Of users, a lot of users are now using trail maps on their iPhones for navigation. The RTC requires users to log in in order to view trails, and by doing so they get data about where those users are from.

IMBA is developing a National Trails Database. They are relying on over 700 local clubs who know the trails best. They are using the RTC as a model. One thing that was talked about was that forest services may track forest area but not the trail network, so it is important to be able to provide documentation of the trail networks to forest managers so they are included in plans.

National Geographic is developing GeoStories, which combines maps with photos and stories. It is a flexible framework that will be made available to a few organizations, and eventually there maybe a personal version for people to create their own GeoStories.

Someone asked about the use of websites like Strava and if these compete with what IMBA is working on. They said that key to the success of IMBAs project is the club network.

I asked about geospatial PDFs and mentioned their value to trail users. National Geographic has placed many of their maps into this format and made them available through Avenza’s PDF Maps app.

My personal interest is in collecting data and then facilitating the creation of the geospatial PDFs. Later in the evening, I was talking with someone about an app for their organization. “What do you want it to do?” I asked. We could create an app for iOS or android platforms easily enough, but I think that PDF Maps app is fantastic and worth using. It gets back to what Karl Ulrich (Wharton Business School) mentioned in a meeting a few years ago. Something like… An advocacy organization probably does not want to invest in software development.