brianboru's Diary

Recent diary entries

Making the Invisible Visible

At its annual conference for the region’s ICT businesses held on November 10, the West Midlands Regional Development Agency, Advantage West Midlands (AWM)unveiled it latest initiative to stimulate and develop ICT businesses. AWMist (A Web Map-based Information Search Tool) is the first regional interface of its kind where collaboration, business opportunity building, and partnerships can be easily forged between the region’s ICT SMEs(Small to Medium Enterprises) and those who can support and assist them, such as funding agencies, universities and business support projects.

A major challenge for the region’s ICT industry is that the excellent innovation and entrepreneurship present in the region represented by small companies is below the radar of many large organisations. Matching a SME with a business or fuunding opportunity is difficult and time-consuming with no one place to quickly search and find a partner or solution provider.

Mike Musson, the ICT Cluster co-ordinator for AWM said: “With AWMist we will be taking a large step forward to exhibiting the breadth and depth of ICT skill and innovation in the West Midlands, which is traditionally associated with manufacturing rather than the knowledge economy. We will be making the invisible visible”

In a breakthrough for OpenStreetMap, Advantage West Midlands chose OSM as its base map for AWMist. The application was developed by leading OSM contributor Frederik Ramm’s company Geofabrik in intense competition with companies offering more traditional map solutions.

AWM chose a solution based on OSM for its more open commercial terms and lack of technical restrictions when compared to rival map providers. The fact that the data for the West Midlands was collected and maintained locally was also a factor in the decision.

AWMist is released now to the region’s ICT businesses for population with data of their choice to maximise their attraction for business partners and will go live to the world in January 2010. Participating businesses and agencies will have multiple levels of viewing and editing for company profiles and contacts and will be able to search and filter according to the nature of the opportunity. For those outside the region and the AWM ICT cluster a restricted view only mode will be available

AWM aim to grow the population of participating businesses and organisations to a European-wide audience and will be using the tool globally to promote the region’s ICT businesses.

For a sneak preview go to:


Posted by brianboru on 15 May 2009 in English (English).

Enlivened a long drive up to the Scottish Highlands along the M6 and M74 whilst my co-driver was at the wheel by surveying all the bridges we went under (power lines too). Surprising how many existing roads don't have a bridge marked - mainly the ones at the junctions are marked as bridges. I also found that in some places there was a misalignment between the motorway carriageways and the public GPS tracks.

So all you OSMers - time to re-survey British motorways? It'll sure alleviate the boredom!

Roads on roof of buildings

Posted by brianboru on 9 February 2009 in English (English).

On Saturday I mapped the service deck road on the roof of the Touchwood Shopping Mall in Solihull where delivery trucks arrive and ship goods down by lift to the shops below. You can see it here It involved some delicate negotiations with the security guard to persuade him that I wasn't going to have an accident in a traffic-free zone and sue the arse off his masters (It was traffic-free because of the icy weather although the ice had completely disappeared).

Is this a first or are there other examples of roof-top roads?


Location: Elmdon Heath, Metropolitan Borough of Solihull, West Midlands Combined Authority, England, B91 2SA, United Kingdom

11/11/11 in Birmingham UK

Posted by brianboru on 11 November 2008 in English (English).

The Number 11 bus route in Birmingham is a local icon. It connects all the outer suburbs in a circular route and is the longest urban bus route in Europe. The 11A goes anticlockwise and the 11C goes clockwise

So today being the eleventh day of the eleventh month publicised for people to board the 11 bus anywhere on the route at 11 a.m and record their trips as a social record.

So I did my bit for OSM by boarding at the Acocks Green Garage (where the no 11 has its home) and spent the next 2.5 hours doing a complete round trip, recording every bus stop in the clock wise direction.

40.7 Km later I had 134 GPS-waymarked bus stops to edit ( that should keep me occupied for a while). I didn't have the stamina to go round anticlockwise! I'll leave that for a cold rainy winter day when biking to collect data is not an option.

My driver for the day was Raf from Poland who has been driving this route since 2005, he drives the route 3 times a day and it is the only bus route he has driven. Drivers go round a complete circuit and change buses every time they get to Acocks Green bus garage

Location: Fox Hollies, Birmingham, West Midlands Combined Authority, England, B28 8RJ, United Kingdom