[LINK] Dept Environment NSW outsource walking maps
rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Wed Jan 13 09:05:12 AEDT 2010
I note with interest, and some dismay, that with its Web presence
subsumed into the Department of the Environment, NSW's National Parks
and Wildlife Service has outsourced bushwalk descriptions and some
mapping to "Wildwalks.com".
Dismay, for various reasons.
One is that the NPWS is no longer the source of the walk descriptions,
and therefore no longer directly responsible for their accuracy. As
someone who has long relied on the NPWS as providing reliable
information about walk difficulty, distance and length; and with lots of
experience of incompetent, inaccurate, or unreasonable descriptions
elsewhere (including various "name" bushwalking books), I'm not happy
that the descriptions would be out of the hands of rangers who are
familiar with the walks. Instead the descriptions are in the hands of an
essentially unknown, poorly identified group of volunteers.
My experience of "enthusiast" bushwalking information is:
- the enthusiast generally over-estimates the capabilities of 'ordinary'
walkers, and underestimates walk difficulty and length;
- I have little faith in the accuracy of enthusiast walk descriptions.
Simple quality control stuff like poor sub-editing delivers serious
howlers (in my copy of "Take a Walk" for the Blue Mountains, "left" and
"right" are frequently confused).
- The map quality on Wildwalks is dreadful. Yes, I do carry my own
copies of topos, so it doesn't matter to me, but plenty of people will
take something on-line for a short walk. My example, here:
... in which (say) all the walks of Wentworth Falls are shown, but none
of them are named. Even a sketch map *with* walk names would be more
useful and less likely to get the inexperienced walker into trouble.
Now, I'm all in favour of "Web 2.0" attitudes where they make sense, but
outsourcing a professional function in this way, where public safety is
at issue, is a case where I would argue that control should have
remained with the responsible body.
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