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Where the heck is Dog Mountain? Smart phone maps can lead tourists astray

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On an old-fashioned paper map, Mount Seymour’s Dog Mountain trail is a fairly easy hike to find. So why do so many people keep getting lost trying to find it?

It may have something to do with hikers using smart phone maps to navigate trails.

A search and rescue volunteer is raising the alarm about what he calls a dangerous trend for outdoor enthusiasts.

Mountaineering expert Alex Wallace says Google Maps and other apps often used by hikers can be misleading about the placement of mountains and hiking trails.

And hikers who rely solely on smart phones for directions in the outdoors are at great risk of getting lost, he said.

Maps misleading

Wallace says the placement of trails around Dog Mountain on Vancouver’s North Shore is of particular concern.

During an interview at the popular trail, Wallace noted that the Google Maps erroneously indicated that the Dog Mountain trail was on a ski run.

Wallace says inexperienced hikers may not know the difference.

He said hikers who have no familiarity with the area — and who rely solely on a phone app — can easily be led down wrong paths far away from the actual peak.

Mike Danks of North Shore Search and Rescue said phone apps can be a useful aid for hikers, but they shouldn’t be the primary navigation tool.

Danks urged hikers to use paper maps or GPS devices.

“Solely relying on an app that could potentially not be accurate is not the best idea,” he said. “I highly recommend that you grab an actual map.” 

A Google Maps screenshot of two different sites that come up when you search Dog Mountain. One appears to be the trailhead and the other the summit. But Alex Wallace says inexperienced hikers may not know the difference. (Google Maps)

Dog Mountain has been the site of a number of North Shore Search and Rescue missions to find lost hikers. Wallace says people looking for the trail routinely miss the turn off and keep going. They end up confused, looking at their phones.

“They say, ‘Is this the way to Dog Mountain?’ And I say, ‘Well you’ve missed the trail head. It was about a kilometre behind you near the parking lot. ‘”

‘Grab an actual map from B.C. parks’

In October, the high profile rescue of a British national from North Vancouver’s Grouse Mountain brought to light the problem of using a phone for navigation.

Michael John Buckingham was rescued by helicopter after 12 hours in rainy, wet conditions on a narrow ledge just above the mountain.

Michael Buckingham, shortly after a helicopter crew rescued him from Crown Mountain. He spent more than 12 hours stranded in rainy, wet conditions. (Yvette Brend/CBC)

The 37-year-old was relying on the Maps.me app on his phone. He thought he was prepared.

Buckingham credited the North Shore Rescue team with saving his life.

“I can’t praise them enough. I think about bits and start [to] cry at how lucky I am. I don’t know how many people were up that mountain, but I’m thankful for every single one,” he said.

Danks, of North Shore Search and Rescue, says the group is experiencing the busiest year ever and warns of relying on your phone.

“Solely relying on an app that could potentially not be accurate is not the best idea,” he says. “I highly recommend that you grab an actual map from B.C. parks.”

Danks says he is worried that too many people think their smart phone is all they need to navigate the rugged terrain of the North Shore.

‘Sort of got turned around’

CBC spoke with some hikers who say they rely on more traditional navigation tools.

Murray Scadeng says he carries a spot GPS locator because of the spotty cell phone signal in the mountains.

Scadeng’s friend, David Reid, added: “We’ve been up here before in the snow and sort of got turned around. So I think we’re getting a little bit smarter about that…in not just relying on the phone.”

David Reid (left) hiking on Mount Seymour with friend Murray Scadeng. They rely on old fashioned navigation to get to their destination. (Dillon Hodgin)

But it isn’t easy to have these errors corrected. Wallace says he’s flagged the mistakes to Google but has yet to see a correction.

Google Maps did not respond to a CBC inquiry about the apparent errors. 

Smart phones are probably still a good way to stay in touch or signal for help, Wallace said. They are often useful to determine changes in the weather.

Mountain experts recommend hikers keep their phones off unless they need to use them and carry a spare battery.

with files from Paisley Woodward
 

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The ‘Maple Majestic’ wants to be Canada’s homegrown Tesla

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Look out Tesla, Canada has a homegrown electric sedan on the way. Well, that’s if AK International Motor Corporation can drum up enough investment to make its EV a reality. Dubbed the “Maple Majestic,” the vehicle is a battery-electric designed to “excel in extreme climate performance without adversely affecting the climate, as befits a vehicle from Canada,” according to its website.

What’s in a name? — The company says the maple leaf is a “symbol of Canada’s warmth and friendliness towards all cultures,” while “majestic” refers to the country’s “status as a Constitutional Monarchy.”

That patriotism carries over into Maple Majestic’s parent company’s lofty goals. AK Motor founder Arkadiusz Kaminski says he wants the company, which he founded in 2012, to become “Canada’s first multi-brand automotive OEM,” and that the “Maple Majestic is intended to be Canada’s flagship brand of automobiles on the world stage.”

Partnerships are key — “We acknowledge that the best chance for the Maple Majestic brand to succeed, lies in continuing to build the relationship with Canada’s parts suppliers and technological innovators, whether they be academic institutions, corporations, or individual inventors,” the company explains. “We are currently seeking partners in automotive engineering, parts manufacturing, automotive assembly, electric propulsion technology, battery technology, autonomous technology, and hybrid power generation technology.”

In other words, don’t expect to be able to buy a Maple Majestic any time soon… and don’t expect to pour over 0-60 mph times, power output, range, or other key stats, because those don’t currently exist. For now, all we have are pictures and a short video clip. But at least those are arresting.

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PE-backed Quorum Software to merge with Canadian energy tech firm

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Houston-based energy technology company Quorum Software will merge with a Canadian tech firm to bolster its presence in oil and gas services.

Quorum announced Feb. 15 it plans to merge with Calgary, Alberta-based Aucerna, a global provider of planning, execution and reserves software for the energy sector. The combined firm will operate under the Quorum Software brand.

Gene Austin, CEO of Quorum Software, will continue in his capacity as chief executive of the combined firm. Austin, former CEO of Austin-based marketing tech firm Bazaarvoice Inc., became CEO of Quorum in December 2018.

Aucerna co-founder and CEO Wayne Sim will be appointed to the Quorum Software board of directors. Both companies are backed by San Francisco- and Chicago-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo.

“Over the last 20 years, Quorum has become the leading innovator of software deployed by North American energy companies,” said Austin. “Today, Quorum is expanding the scope of our technology and expertise to all energy-producing regions of the globe. Customers everywhere will have access to a cloud technology ecosystem that connects decision-ready data from operations to the boardroom.”

In addition to the merger announcement, Quorum Software announced it had entered into an agreement with Finnish IT firm TietoEvry to purchase TietoEvry’s entire oil and gas business. The agreement, which includes hydrocarbon management, personnel and material logistics software and related services, is valued at 155 million euros, or $188 million, according to a statement from TietoEvry.

“Our three organizations complement each other — from the software that our great people design to the energy markets where we operate,” said Sim. “Our new company will be able to deliver value to our stakeholders, while accelerating the growth of our combined business and the energy industry’s software transformation.”

The combined company will serve over 1,800 energy companies in 55 countries, according to the announcement. With its headquarters in Houston, Quorum will continue to have a significant presence in Calgary and in Norway, the headquarters for TietoEvry’s oil and gas software business. Quorum will have other offices throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

As of Sept. 30, 2020, private equity firm Thoma Bravo had more than $73 billion in assets under management. In late December 2020, Thoma Bravo agreed to acquire Richardson, Texas-based tech firm RealPage in a roughly $10 billion acquisition.

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Piece of Kitchener technology lands on Mars on Perseverance rover

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KITCHENER — A piece of Kitchener technology has landed on Mars, thanks to NASA’s Perseverance rover.

The rover settled on the planet’s surface on Thursday afternoon. It’s been travelling through space since it was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. in July.

“The whole idea of being on a device that we’re sending to another plant with the express mission of looking for traces of past life, it’s pretty mind boggling actually,” said Rafal Pawluczyk, chief technical officer for FiberTech Optica.

The Kitchener-based company made fibre optic cables for the rover’s SuperCam that will examine samples with a camera, laser and spectrometers.

“The cables that we built take the light from that multiplexer and deliver it to each spectrograph,” Pawluczyk said.

The cables connect a device on the rover to the SuperCam, which will be used to examine rock and soil samples, to spectrometers. They’ll relay information from one device to another.

The project started four years ago with a connection to Los Alamos National Lab, where the instruments connected to the cables were developed.

“We could actually demonstrate we can design something that will meet their really hard engineering requirements,” Pawluczyk said.

The Jezero Crater is where the Perseverance rover, with FiberTech Optica’s technology onboard, landed Thursday. Scientists believe it was once flooded with water and is the best bet for finding any evidence of life. FiberTech’s cables will help that in that search.

Ioannis Haranas, an astrophysicist and professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, said the rover isn’t looking for “green men.”

“They’re looking for microbial, single-cell life, any type of fossils and stuff like that,” Haranas said. “That’s why they chose a special landing site. This could be very fertile land for that.”

“It’s very ambitious,” said Ralf Gellert, a physics professor at the University of Guelph.

Gellert helped with previous rover missions and said it’s the first time a Mars rover has landed without a piece of Guelph technology on it. While he’s not part of Perseverance’s mission, he said the possibilities are exciting.

“Every new landing site is a new piece of the puzzle that you can put together with the new results that we have from the other landing sites,” he said.

“It’s scientifically very interesting because, even though we don’t have an instrument on that rover, we can compare what the new rover Perseverance finds at this new landing site,” he said.

Now that Perseverance has landed on Mars, FiberTech is looking ahead to its next possible mission into space.

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