The Border Project: part One

Posted by tadcan on 17 March 2019 in English (English)

With Brexit on the horizon and the possibility of customs post returning on roads that have had unimpeded access for the last thirty years or so, I had the idea of recording its current state for posterity. Around thirty thousand people cross the approximately 270 official places where roads traverse the border, from both sides, everyday. After raising this with other mappers they pointed out that by documenting its current state snaking back and forth across the border it would also provide a useful baseline to compare any changes to. Today the difference between either side is largely invisible, noticeable from small changes like the type of kerb stone, names of company’s on utility poles, the yellow or white road markings. So with a motorbike to make the journey, the next question was how to pull off this idea, esp, since the deadline of the 29th of March is near and the idea came late in the day.

On the OSM Ireland trip up to Belfast I talked about the project and got enthusiastic feedback. Coincidentally Mapillary were sending a gopro camera to fellow OSM mapper Dabigc, which suddenly made planning much easier. After it arrived we went for an practice run in his car to see how it worked. We looked at different options to mounting the camera on my bike helmet, unfortunately it has a piece of plastic that means it can’t be in an optimal position. The other option was a chest mount, but Dabigc pointed out pictures taken as I move my head around doing safety checks would add more information about the area.

Next we went out in his car to record the local area and see the quality of the camera, which turned out to be excellent. The 16 GB SD card was half full after half an hour of testing, so large cards would be needed. That was with a pic taken every one second, which will be needed to get the exact point that I cross from one country to the other. So I ordered two 256GB SD cards, a chest mount and helmet mount with a hinge with various mounting options. Two phones could also help, one for the gopro app and the second for navigation and phone calls. He also has a friend with a B+B near the border as possible base for the project.

Later thinking about the planning, the issues of batteries came up, and route, firstly since I wont have the app in front of me, it will be impossible to know if one has gone flat. That needs to be researched, hopefully four batteries would be enough for the day, with a change over every two hours. That also means a strip charger to get them ready for the next day. That leaves the route, which ideally would be programmed into an app to give directions by earbud. There is probably some way to enter that information into software to work out the route without having to do it by hand, esp. since time is short. Also considering that the best light, not a guarantee in cloudy Ireland, will be from around 8am to 5pm, which is probably enough driving for one day.

All of the uploading from SD card and prep for the next day can be done after I get back to the B+B.

Most of all I just have to keep my fingers crossed that getting all the equipment and planning will happen before any changes happen on the border.

Comment from alexkemp on 17 March 2019 at 13:14

Sounds excellent. All the best for your project, and keep us all in the loop, please.

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