Outdoor trends 2024: Ordnance Survey’s predictions, from AI to community power

Outdoor trends 2024: Ordnance Survey’s predictions, from AI to community power

What will be the biggest outdoor trends for 2024? Ordnance Survey MD Nick Giles shares his predictions for the year ahead, from personalised maps and the growth of AI to saving money and the importance of recommendations from like-minded members of the community.

What do you predict will be the new trend/changes we will see in 2024?

Personalisation is a trend that will continue to grow. Especially, in terms of how people want to hold onto memories. How can we keep those happy memories close when as a country we are going through harder economic times? Remembering those special times is important to us all so we think maps on walls and personalised maps will be popular.

Photo: OS Maps

Also personalisation through AI and machine learning (making machines understand you and make relevant suggestions) will be a continuing trend. For example, at OS it could be using machine learning algorithms to present to you ‘these are the walking routes you like’, then turning into ‘these are the walking routes you may like?’ I think it’s quite interesting how AI begins to penetrate more day-to-day within our applications.

There will be much more about how machines can begin to understand you as an individual and then make recommendations, which is very much how Netflix works.

Elsewhere because of the squeeze on consumer spending, people will look for cheap family entertainment which will stem from people not necessarily wanting to travel. They will be thinking about where can I go from my front door?

I think the power of community is a big thing. People will more happily take recommendations from other like-minded people in their community. Talking to like-minded people helps with decision making and with social connection, which is so important to our mental wellbeing. It means people are encouraged to explore from their own doorstep, and then from a broader community aspect it will help people take a little bit more pride their local areas.

What do you think will stay the same in 2024?

I think the economic pressure on households is likely to continue into 2024. The availability of cheap and healthy entertainment for families – where walking is still our national pastime – will remain. We may see more staycations as people are checking how far their budgets will stretch this year. At the moment it is hard for some people to put food on the table, so therefore you are not going to be spending on cinema trips, or your meals out. You need to think about how you spend your money more carefully.

The importance of the outdoors for mental well-being will stay the same. Whilst we are seeing a reduction of downloads and subscribers to mental health apps, it is encouraging that more people are turning towards an almost instant hit of going into the outdoors. When you get outside, you feel almost immediately better and I believe that people will venture outside more instead of indulging in the fast gratification of short term discretionary spending.

What would you personally like to see change in 2024?

The big one I’d like to see change is around respect for the outdoors and people leaving the place better than you found it. Accessing the countryside is a right but it is also a privilege. The amount of litter and waste that you see across the trails and across the outdoors is worrying. So I’d love to see people take a little bit more pride in the fabulous spaces that we have got here in GB. Take a bag with you and a litter picker and leave the trails better than you found them.

Another key thing I’d like to see improve is Britain’s sustainability. The outdoor sector leads the world from a sustainability perspective and can be held up as a shining example of how to tackle sustainability issues.  It has taken sustainability seriously and it has all been done at an organisation-by-organisation level. But now I think the steps the outdoor sector has taken to improve its sustainability is starting to become understood and acknowledged at an industry level, and there is an opportunity for the impact of that to start penetrating other industries as well.

There are a lot of other sectors that haven’t embraced sustainability for obvious reasons. But the outdoor industry is a good example of how you can still operate a commercial business very successfully with sustainability at the core. Patagonia is a great example of that. In this country many home grown brands do it particularly well. There are plenty of examples of British companies who have put it at the centre of their organisation, and I would like to see more do it – but I do believe thinking more creatively on how to tackle sustainability challenges in a way that is not greenwashing (or perceived as such) is needed.


Mountains not molehills

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