bbc sport olympics map mashes up twitter, blog posts, coverage

When the English county of Berkshire was hit by flooding last year, Ollie Williams, then at BBC Berkshire, put together a map that mashed up BBC coverage, the location of emergency relief centres, flickr photos and youtube videos.

Now Ollie’s moved to BBC Sport where’s he’s built a map for the Beijing Olympics that mashes up results, blog posts and geo-coded twitter tweets.

It’s quite a nice implementation although, it could be improved with the addition of photos and video, both of which could be easily created and uploaded on the same 3G or wifi enabled mobile as the tweets are coming from. That said, this is a really good starting point for using maps as a way of navigating BBC content – something you’re bound to see more of in the future.

Speaking of, James Thornett, another former BBC colleague, has a new(ish) blog called Straight to the Point which is all about mapping, location based services and the like. Well worth a look.


  1. Evening Robin! Thanks for the mention, although you’re being too kind in saying I built the map. While I can knock up a Google My Maps creation given a few hours and some photos of flood water, I can’t build an Olympic map to work across a million different browsers, incorporate geo-located tweets, add lat/lon fields to Movable Type and crunch bespoke graphics into Microsoft imagery! All the credit for that goes to my colleague Andrew Nicolaou, who is no less than a wizard. I looked after the editorial side of things but the construction is way beyond my means.
    As for photos and video being “easily created and uploaded on the same 3G or wifi enabled mobile as the tweets are coming from”, that’ll definitely be true for London 2012. But you wouldn’t believe the issues with getting three journalists to send tweets back from Beijing, let alone photos and video. It’s a minor miracle the tweets are there, and we’ve already had to abandon one journalist whose Nokia N95 died and had to be replaced with a cheap model which doesn’t support Twibble (the piece of excellent freeware which enables our trio to point their phones at the sky and add the coordinates seamlessly to Twitter).
    Embedding video into the map was also judged highly likely to bring the thing crashing to its knees (there were all kinds of server issues in the first few days), and as far as photos go, we’ve got some Flickr feeds in there wired to groups where people can add their photos of iconic venues like the Bird’s Nest or Water Cube. You should see a new photo from those groups for certain venues each time you visit the map.
    Ultimately this particular map is a proof of concept and with 2012 now in sight (not to mention Formula One next season, a worldwide event at which each race will have BBC staff), there are all kinds of possibilities. Thanks for the mention!

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