The Walker's Map: Designing GPS-enabled Mapping for Urban Recreational Walkers

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By locating the user as well as offering unprecedented access to information, GPS-enabled mapping has transformed the everyday practice of ‘going for a walk’ in the city. Yet, despite these revolutionary capabilities, map design, both visually and conceptually, has remained remarkably stable. Drawing on initial findings from the author’s practice-research in information design, this paper will consider the GPS-enabled map from the recreational urban walker’s perspective. Attending both to the present and the future of technology and map-design, it will explore both how walkers currently use GPS-enabled maps as well as what their particular needs, as a specific user-group, might be.

To begin, contemporary recreational urban walking practices will be described. Here, particular attention will be paid to the resources that walkers currently drawn on in to find their way, including maps, signage and GPS-enabled mapping. Focus will then turn to the design of the GPS-enabled mapping, specifically scrutinizing the cartographic models commonly employed. Referring to initial research findings it will be suggested that these models may not be meeting the particular needs of the recreational urban walker. To conclude, it will be argued that more appropriate, ‘walker-centric’ map-designs may be required, particularly if walking is to be encouraged and deeper relationships with the urban environment fostered.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 26 Jun 2014
EventBritish Cartographic Society annual Symposium: Today, Tomorrow and Beyond - Marwell Hotel, Winchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 25 Jun 201426 Jun 2014


ConferenceBritish Cartographic Society annual Symposium
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • GPS
  • practice based research
  • Wayfinding
  • Interface Design


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