29 Aug 2008

RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2008

Today is the last day of the Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers) Annual International Conference, held in their Kensington headquarters. The theme of the conference is 'Geographies that Matter'. Program outlines and related resources can be found at the RGS AC2008 web pages.

BBC News online have a piece on Mary Spence, who spoke at the conference, on how online mapping lacks the detail of traditional paper products saying "We're in real danger of losing what makes maps so unique, giving us a feel for a place even if we've never been there". BBC News: Online maps 'wiping out history' See later post for more details.

27 Aug 2008

Most successful country at the 2008 Olympics?

Sport and statistics are two of my interests. I’m currently working on updating the statistical tables and choropleth maps for the forthcoming edition of the Collins Student World Atlas. With the fantastic performance of the GB team in Beijing, I mused on how high we had finished in the final medals table and which country had been the most successful.

Looking at the final medal haul on the Beijing Olympic website put China top, then USA, Russia, GB, Germany, Australia (6th), Jamaica (13th), India (50th), Iceland (73rd) and Venezuela last. So China was the most successful and Venezuela least.

But hold on, as with all statistics we have to look at what is being shown: the table ranked countries first by the number of gold medals won, then silvers and bronzes, ordered alphabetically, if these were the same. So in fact Iceland was really 71st= and Venezuela 81st=. Venezuela only came last (alphabetically), and it didn’t actually come last, many countries didn’t even get a medal.

Another way of looking at the final medal table is by the total number of medals won, as the Americans like to do. The picture is slightly, but significantly different. The USA are now the most successful, followed by China, Russia, GB, Australia and so on. Is this a fairer measure?

How about giving a gold medal a higher value than a silver which itself is higher than bronze. So if say gold=3, silver=2 and bronze=1, who is the most successful now? China is top again followed by USA, Russia, GB, Australia then Germany and so on. This ratio ranking seems to correlate fairly closely to the total medals ranking.

Ranking of medal winning countries according to parameters

You would expect the most populous countries to do better, because they have a relatively bigger pool of participants. Consider simply dividing a country’s population by the number of medals won (of any kind) and ranking the results by lowest first. The most successful country is now the Bahamas, then Jamaica, Iceland, Slovenia and Australia.

Is this still a good measure of success? What about the money invested in the competitors? A rough guide to this would be to divide the GNI by the number of medals. This makes Mongolia the most successful, then Jamaica, Armenia, Zimbabwe then Georgia. (No current GNI figures were available for the Bahamas, Cuba, North Korea and Taiwan).

These are very simplistic statistical comparisons. More rigorous and in depth analysis could be carried out in the search for ‘success’. How significant is being the host nation, past performance or other variables and combinations?

Please send me any comments and discussion on this subject.

*87 countries won 958 medals.

*Of those countries gaining medals, India was the least successful using both the population and GNI rankings.

*The Chinese team (and for the population calculation), did not include Hong Kong who competed separately.

*Great Britain is the name given to the UK team by the International Olympic Committee. The team is also referred to as Team GB or Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

*Pakistan with 164 million people was the most populous country not to win a medal.

How to compete in the 2012 London Olympics?
As I was watching a competitor clock a time of 14:80 seconds in the 100m heats I saw the chance not just to watch, but to take part in London 2012. As some countries have no minimum qualifying standards, I would need to become a citizen of such a country and be their best performer – granting me entry. Is it as simple as this?

18 Aug 2008

Collins Bartholomew at ESRI UC 2008

Collins Bartholomew attended ESRI's annual International User Conference in San Diego, on 4-8 August. This was a massive event with more than 14,000 GIS professionals and users from over 120 countries.

Graham Gill, Head of Cartography presented a paper “ArcMap and The Greatest Book on Earth”. Graham has been elected to sit on the panel of judges to determine the best maps produced using ESRI software.

For the first time at this event the Collins Bartholomew stand featured a Promethean interactive whiteboard showing some of our latest products and proved to be a great draw for the delegates. All around the impressive venue were 30 foot Collins Bartholomew maps of London and the world – created by the Cheltenham and Glasgow cartographic teams.

By Rob Schouppe, Data Sales Director