Introducing Social Hiking – a publicly usable version of my Offa’s Dyke route app

Back in March I posted about an online route mapping and social media tool I had create to share our challenge of walking Offa’s Dyke with as many people as possible.

The app was a great success – we found we had a regular group of people following our progress and interacting with us (which really helped out motivation). We were also getting links to local information and history, met a friend of a follower who lived on the route, and most amazingly of all had a surprise visit from a friend who has tracked us down using the map on her iPhone.

After a fair bit of demand, I have finally got around to creating a publicly usable version of the app called Social Hiking.

[apologies for anyone who also reads my “View From The Shed” blog, as most of this post is repeated!]

Social Hiking (which has been launched as an alpha, as there are a lot of features to be added) is a free app which extends the functionality of ViewRanger (outdoor GPS software for mobiles – they were sponsors of Offa’s Dyke) by allowing users to share their progress live on a map with embedded media such as tweets, photos, blog posts and audio clips. It is prefect for charity challenges, hikes, rides or other adventures outdoors!

Social Hiking collects ViewRanger beacons, using the API, and creates a map of the route. Social Hiking also then collects information from other sites to include on the map – for example from Twitter (with threaded conversations), Twitpic, Audioboo or anything with an RSS feed. This media does not need to be geo-tagged – but is added based on timestamps.

There are a number of ways the maps can be displayed and shared – either on a Google Map or (for the UK only) on Ordnance Survey maps. The site also allows users to embed an iframe version into their own sites: for example here is our last day on Offa’s Dyke:

To find out more about Social Hiking, and to sign up to share your own outdoor adventures, please visit http://new.socialhiking.org.uk

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