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Adventures in Geospatial

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One glance at our website will show you that geospatial data can and is improving the world.

From the technology fuelling our car navigation systems to the spatial applications that help officials best direct humanitarian efforts, there are so many ways that geospatial data is changing people’s lives.

But what is life if we don’t make any time to enjoy ourselves?

Well, geospatial information has that covered too. Welcome to the wide world – and we do mean world – of geocaching.

Introducing geocaching

As children, nothing could be more fun than setting up an elaborate treasure hunt around the house and backyard. Turns out, adults want to run their own scavenger hunts too – and with the advent of computer technology, Google Maps and GPS, these hunts have become a lot more challenging.

The result is geocaching. Participants, armed with a GPS tracker or mobile device, take to the great outdoors in search of hidden “caches”. Each cache (usually a waterproof container containing a logbook, pen and perhaps a few collectable items for trading) will be hidden according to specific GPS coordinates which are recorded on one of a number of available listing websites. Geocachers, as they are known, will attempt to follow the spatial coordinates and discover the hidden container, where they can prove their discovery by adding the date and their name to the logbook, and potentially trade an item inside for a new collectable for the next person to come across the cache.

It’s orienteering for the spatial generation. It can be a competitive activity, when groups or individuals try to be the first to make it to a cache; or it can be a more relaxed form of fun outdoor recreation. In either event, it covers the bases as both mentally and physically stimulating – as well as as a clever, outside-the-box way of utilising spatial information.

Oh, and did we mention this is a worldwide phenomenon?

Where in the world…?

There are geocaches hidden all over the planet, and there have been for nearly two decades.

The first official geocache, according to geocaching.com, was set up in May 2000 when a man named Dave Ulmer hid a cache in the woods in Oregon, Portland, then uploaded its coordinates to a newsgroup forum. Within a few days two newsgroup readers had located the container – a black bucket Ulmer had stuffed with prizes, collectibles and the first geocache logbook – and a worldwide craze was born.

Nowadays geocaching has spread from the United States to Australia, and beyond. In fact there are now over three million geocaches hidden worldwide!

Along the way, geocaching has become a delicate art of selecting challenging but accessible locations for caches, which are nonetheless physically (and legally!) accessible to potential adventurers. Whilst the classic waterproof container is still utilised by many geocachers, GPS coordinates are leading to increasingly tricky and clever hidden treasures – from magnetic miniatures to camouflaged caches.

Follow the data

Discovery and exploration are key to geocaching – and indeed, spatial professionals working with geospatial data enjoy a similar sense of discovery. With so many applications for geospatial work, there is a lot to explore. Find out what else spatial information is used for on the applications page.

Have you had your own experiences geocaching? Let us know on Facebook, using the hashtag #geospatialgeocache, or sound off in the comments below.

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