GPS Maps are the cornerstone of App-based navigation aids and walking guides, but not all GPS Maps are born equal. They vary enormously in terms of the way the data is gathered, their quality and their level of detail. iFootpath GPS Maps have several points of difference that we think makes them the best in the business. Let’s explore what’s behind our detailed maps and data…
How the Data is Gathered
iFootpath GPS Maps are created using the iFootpath’s App purpose-built GPS tracker. The tracker creates the walking map as the author walks the route. It shows the exact journey of the walk author, so you can see exactly where they walked (if you look closely you might even see any pit stops!). We don’t use maps that are hand-plotted on computer software, as we think they are too open to human error – it is all too easy to accidentally plot an incorrect point on a computer screen.
Level of Detail
Once the walk author has asked the iFootpath GPS Tracker to begin, it plots the exact position of the author every 7 seconds. Yes, you read that correctly, every SEVEN SECONDS. This means the final GPS Map is made up of hundreds of location points – all joined together seamlessly to create the red-coloured track to follow. The precision is pretty impressive too – you will be able to see which side of a hedgerow you should be walking, the exact curve of the path and the exact point at which you will be leaving a field, crossing a river or crossing a road. By contrast, hand-plotted routes on computer software can never achieve this level of accuracy and detail, they are normally just a handful of points, connected by straight lines and plotted only as accurately as the software map scale allows.
Satellite Imagery and Named Landmark Waypoints
On top of the GPS track points which are plotted every 7 seconds, our walk authors add a number of named and numbered waypoints to mark key landmarks along the way. These are very helpful to allow you to match the walking directions to the relevant place on the GPS Map. Tap on the numbered waypoint on any of our GPS Maps and this will reveal the landmark name.
Our maps are show on a background of a hybrid satellite map (provided by Google or Apple). Not only are these background maps free (meaning you don’t have to pay an annual subscription for our App content), we also think they give some benefits over Ordnance Survey Maps or other map types. There’s no doubt that seeing the road names, field boundaries, trees, bodies of water, buildings and tracks in the detail given on a hybrid satellite map is actually very helpful with both knowing what to expect and also with navigating once you are out walking.
With this level of detail and precision, you will be right in thinking that the iFootpath GPS Maps are all you need to follow a walk. We like to give walkers, experienced or new, all the confidence we can to embrace walking so our approach is belt and braces! Alongside our precise GPS Maps, our walking guides also include full written turn-by-turn directions (which receive accolades of their own), as well as photographs to help you be fully reassured you are on the right path at all times.
Isn’t this what everyone does?
From our experience, at least half of the GPS Maps offered out there on other websites and Apps are missing some if not all of these features. Many website and Apps are interested in building quantity over quality when it comes to walking guides, so they need to cut a few corners to do this.
The most common problem is that GPS Maps are often simply a handful of location points manually plotted onto a software-based map, with simple straight lines connecting them. To demonstrate the difference, it is easy to look for a popular walking route, one that you’d expect to find on many walking websites and Apps. One example is Earlswood Lakes in Warwickshire – take a look at the difference between the iFootpath GPS Map for this route and the equivalent one hosted by ViewRanger for Walking World. The difference is immediately clear.
Of course, there’s plenty of room for lots of different providers in the Walking Guides App world, and they all offer something different which is great. If you are looking for tens of thousands of ideas for places to walk with the option of buying OS maps to allow you to explore for yourself, then there are other Apps out there to better suit your needs. But if you want the added confidence of a comprehensive guide with a precise GPS Map, full turn-by-turn directions and photos, then we hope you will find iFootpath is your perfect companion.
07 April 2018