BBC mobile GPS reporting experiment shows first fruits

The results of a BBC citizen journalist reporting experiment using GPS tagging of stories collected on mobile devices have been unveiled.

The new form of stories produced under a collaboration between the BBC, University of Brighton, Nokia and mobile marketers Ymogen have been published at Geo-Stories.

The project, embarked upon in December 2006 and reported first here, gave university students a Nokia Nseries phone and a Garman GPS device with the intention of exploring a kind of storytelling that is fixed to geographical locations.

The combination of devices captured spatial data including velocity and innovation, as well as still pictures, video and audio, with the intention of “pushing the boundaries of conventional photo-diaries and story telling”.

Stories are played as multimedia slideshows that are integrated with synchronised Google Maps presentations. The first, which went live this week, include Guerrilla Gardening, Tree Survey and The Bible On The Beach.

The experiment points to the increasingly likely arrival of geo-tagging (adding location-based data) to news stories in future. Handsets like Nokia’s N95 and E90 not only have integrated cameras but also include GPS units, allowing reporters to capture material with this data built-in.

However, Lotta Holmstrom, readers’ editor at Swedish daily newspaper, was critical of the stories.

“Many of them are over-done, having music with lyrics in the background while you’re supposed to read small and quite blurred text which disappears too quickly,” she wrote.