Learning to Live with GPS
A geographer by nature and training, Keith Elwood grew up with a love of maps and their use in the real world. He spent much of his youth orienteering, backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, and engaging in other sports that required him to be aware of where he was and how to get back.
He received a degree in geography from the University of Delaware, with research on backcountry navigation and visual aesthetics that was presented at the national meetings of the Association of American Geographers and a National Park Service research symposium in Shenandoah National Park. His graduate work at Penn State was focused on behavioral geography—the interface between humans and their environment. His research took him to the Smithsonian Institution, where as a research associate he explored navigation on Chesapeake Bay through ethnographies of traditional watermen, a vanishing breed.
He served as a Senior Geographer with the US Bureau of the Census, assisting in building the first geocoding applications of the TIGER System, a nationwide digital map database, and developing the Bureau’s expertise in postal geography and navigational systems, from LORAN-C to Navstar GPS. Keith also worked in the private sector in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), with applications of GPS in natural resource management, rural addressing, and public safety.
After a hiatus working as a strategic consultant to government, industry, and nonprofits in Victoria, BC—ever using the navigational metaphor in business strategy—Keith returned to his singular passion of navigation and wayfinding in everyday environments, a passion that meshes well with emerging technologies, especially GPS navigation in vehicle and pedestrian applications. He has gotten lost on three continents.
Keith lives in Victoria, BC with his family, and takes the kayak out when he can. It has a deck compass.