Since I was a child I knew about Tracks4Africa and that they made Garmin GPS maps. Forward a few years and I’m doing vacation work at T4A helping to produce a road atlas of Southern Africa! I also learnt that they make much more than Garmin GPS maps…In this blog post I’ll give a little background on Tracks4Africa and my experience with them. This won’t be a long blog post, so I hope you’ll quickly take a break and read more!
I study B.Sc. Geoinformatics at Stellenbosch University and in my second year I started looking for vacation work opportunities. I contacted Tracks4Africa and after I went for a quick interview, I got a vacation job as a Junior GIS Data Capturer. I started working in May 2016 after the university’s exams. At first I digitized rivers in Angola to add to their maps. Just when I got to know everyone in the office, I had to leave to start vacation work at the Peace Parks Foundation located just a street or two from T4A.
In November I returned for more vacation work. This time things got really exciting when I worked on one of their big projects – an atlas for Southern Africa. I contributed a full 19 pages to the atlas and also helped fixing minor errors in some of the other pages. Unfortunately you’ll have to buy the atlas to see the pages I made as the content is proprietary, but it’s definitely worth it if you like travelling Africa. In the process of atlas-making I learnt a lot and I’m excited to use the newly acquired GIS skills this year at university.
A Brief History
- In 2001 T4A became visible to the public when they launched their website and online community.
- In 2003 they made their very first digital Garmin-compatible map.
- In 2005 Tracks4Africa started selling maps online and in 2006 it came out on CDs.
- In November 2006 they also had their data layer on Google Maps which was certainly a big step towards becoming a globally recognized brand.
- In 2007 their maps became fully routable and in 2008 Padkos launched – this is today still used on their website to gather data from a community of users who’ve been to places and then add their photos and comments about those places to a central database.
- The first paper map produced by Tracks4Africa was a map of Botswana and it appeared in 2009.
- In 2011 their first book came out.
- More books followed in 2013 and in 2014 Jaguar Land Rover incorporated T4A Maps into their onboard navigation system.
- In 2015 T4A launched their first navigation app for mobile devices.
- And in 2017 their first atlas will see the light!
PS. If you’d like to stay updated on everything Tracks4Africa, you can follow their blog at blog.tracks4africa.co.za. Be sure to subscribe to not miss out on their new posts!