Organized by OpenStreetMap Belgium (especially Joost) and sponsored by Meta, a GoPro Max with some equipment like an extra battery, the Insta360 “invisible” selfie stick and several mounts arrived on March 22 at my house. I had applied for one of the 10 cameras and was granted one to my great joy. The other cameras have gone to France, Italy, Serbia, Croatia, Latvia and other countries.

Since having heard about Stéphane covering all of Brussels on his bike, of course I wanted to cover all of Kilkenny which is only slightly smaller than Brussels, I’m sure.

I had started that on the LG360 Vincent had given me on a somewhat permanent loan, but the image quality with the GoPro is of course so much better, because it is a much newer model to start with.

The first capture sequence was not in Kilkenny, though, not even Co. Kilkenny, but St. Mullin’s monastic site in Co. Carlow – I have a reputation about covering heritage to uphold after all. The main reason of going there was to track the relatively new bus route 887, but it’s always good to have a secondary mission; it’s much more sustainable and motivating that way.

I used the selfie stick in St. Mullin’s. The remote control via the Quik GoPro app didn’t work there, but I have since figured it out. I’ve since almost exclusively had the camera mounted on my helmet, even when I’m walking, because it keeps one hand free. Once I’m walking long enough, I can put the phone away as well. It is handy to be able to stop the sequence at junctions or when I meet someone and need to pause without having to delete images of my hand reaching for the button.

Since I only work evenings, I had good flexibility around the Irish weather to go out 2-4 hours a day cycling around Kilkenny (and walking around Goresbridge one day), so I’ve covered quite a bit of the city by now (coverage so far).

On Easter Monday, I had an e-bike at my disposal, so I covered almost twice as much area or captured twice as many images as the other days. In a way, the Easter holidays came in handy, because of the lack of school runs and other obstacles. There were however more children in the streets and parks, but no parent was worried enough about their privacy to approach me. The faces are being blurred on mapillary, of course, anyways. The Easter weekend was also good for surveying new housing estates which are still partly under construction, and I even added new street names and house numbers (in Cluain Glasan). Pausing the sequence is much easier on the GoPro than it was with the LG360 which kept losing its connection to the phone. (I’m still thankful for having had the use of it, Vincent!)

I’m leaving out some of the newer estates for another few weeks, because I had just gone there the fortnight before the new camera arrived, and it makes more sense to wait 6 months or so for an update, especially since they’re all at the other end of town (Bishop’s Lough and Long Meadows).

I’ve taken some pictures inside businesses as well, because I had seen that done by Google StreetView (the image I saw is gone now, though). It came up with my band as well that it’s convenient to be able to check out a venue remotely via GSV, but why not also give that option on Mapillary or any of the other providers? (I have uploaded a few images to Panoramax already, but I think we need an Irish instance for it.)

Even before I had received the GoPro, I had contacted someone on Community Radio Kilkenny City to see whether he would conduct an interview to give me another chance to talk about mapping and in a way to “warn” local residents that I would be going around with the camera. That interview happened last Thursday, and you can listen to it from minute 47:59. He didn’t bring up the privacy question which he had done in an email. That is a bit of a pity, because I have had issues with that in the past, and I know I’m not the only one. However, it’s still good to get a chance to talk about mapping and some of the other issues involved. It would have been more relaxing not to be under such time pressure, because I could see the minutes tick away and wanted to get so much more information out there.

With the storm going around today, I’ll take a bit of a rest, but I’m hoping to finish the city soon and hopefully venture out a bit into the county and country. I haven’t had a chance to try a mount on a car, but I’m hoping to do that at some point – I just need a lift and a secondary mission. I’d love to get free travel for a month and free use of the electric Bolt bikes while I’m doing this, because I’m not getting paid, of course. I could cover all of Portlaoise then which is very much needed.

I’m allowed to hand on the camera to other people in Ireland, so if anyone is walking one of the long distance hiking trails or cycles around the whole country or something like that, they can let me know. They will need to get a sub account with the EU Camera Grant project via Joost in Belgium. I want to finish Kilkenny city first though, please.

I’m keeping copies of all the images I’ve uploaded, so I can upload them to other providers like Panoramax, Mapilio (once they enable their uploader again), Kartaview etc.