by Gritter Griffin
America - the 1960’s.
The Cold War is in full swing. Khrushchev promised to bury us. The Cuban Missile Crisis ended. And, the US government is sending agents all over the country to subject high school students to nefarious testing procedures.
Well, ok, maybe not so nefarious but it got your attention didn’t it?
The truth is that various agencies (like the CIA) were looking for the brightest young minds in the country. The plan was to bring these brainiacs into various government agencies to develop the technologies that would keep America ahead of the curve and in first place in the techno race. They tested tens of thousands of students with IQ and math exams and invited only those that tested “off the scale” into the program.
Glenn Shurr (standardmapping.com) was one of those.
Glenn was recruited into a well-known agency (which shall remain un-named) and began a career that would span decades. He was a little reticent at first but then the recruiter said, “Well, son, you can go to work for us and stop Commies or you can go to Nam and stop bullets”.
It was a done deal.
Glenn began his career in the analyst department by working out algorithms for solutions to computer programs. Later, he began working in computer design and utilization. He was specifically interested in image processing and management.
Fast forward to the 1980’s.
Glenn had now retired from agency work and reconnected with a high school chum. This was another brainiac who had been working in the government for a different agency. They reached out to old contacts and then worked together to build an image processing system. They sold this system and business to the government but maintained a relationship with the agency that purchased it.
Glenn was an avid fisherman and often lamented the fact that there was no accurate mapping system for the maze that was the Louisiana marsh. He got lost all the time. The existing maps were completely inadequate and were no help at all. Then, one day as he was bemoaning the fact that he was once again lost in the marsh, he looked all around at the endless view of sameness - and began to think about using aerial imagery for maps.
He began using “resources” from his past and acquired aerial images of the ‘downriver’ area. This expanse of images included Venice, the Wagon Wheel, and the various Passes. The difficulty came in stitching all the images together to create a single image to use as a map. But, with his background in image processing, it wasn’t long before the first Standard map was born and released in 1986.
The map was a huge hit and was soon followed by other areas of the Louisiana coast that were popular fishing destinations. These hard copy, laminated, maps would become the mainstay of mapping for the Louisiana marshes, bays, and bayous and remain so until 2010.
The years encompassing 1986-2010 were spent sitting down for hundreds of hours with charter captains, tournament anglers, shrimpers, crabbers, marina owners, bait shop operators, and weekend fishermen. He asked them all what they needed to navigate the areas in question and wrote down everything they told him. Then he added these items to his maps. He used the common, local names for bayous, bays, ponds, and rivers. He added coordinates for specific points, so anyone could find major landmarks. The task was immense and required that over 200 individual hi-res photos be reviewed, edited, and then stitched together to create a single map.
Some people would later say, “Hey, that looks just like Google Maps”. Not so, my friends. Glenn was creating these images 13 years before Google was even a company!
For several years Glenn had realized that his maps could make a huge difference in the mapping technology of GPS units. He also knew that the most important aspect of continuing his cartography quest was the development of the electronic side of the industry. He reached out to all the GPS manufacturers to explain his idea and process. He said to them, “If you will just give me the tools I can build your systems”.
Then, in 2010, Lowrance reached out to him and the second part of the journey began.
Now, it was time for Glenn to spend untold numbers of hours in the Lowrance computer and simulation labs creating, testing, and re-testing. The result, which continues to be refined and improved, is the electronic map cards sold by Standard Mapping today.
Glenn’s goals have broadened.
He now wants his maps to cover every lake, pond, river, and creek in the US. He wants his maps to be on every GPS platform which makes them available to every angler from the pro to the weekender. This will allow every angler and boater to safely navigate to and from their favorite fishing areas.
I asked Glenn to tell me about some of his favorite memories from the early days. One of the things he talked most about was the colorful characters he met along the way and the stories that are behind the local names of the waterways. Once, while at Joe’s Landing on the Barataria waterway, he witnessed two locals get into a heated argument and nearly come to blows over the disputed name of a favored area.
He truly enjoyed his years of travel among the watermen of Louisiana. Many of his fondest memories in the building of his company was getting to hear all those stories and legends firsthand from the patrons and workers of the dockside bars, marinas, bait shops, boats, docks, and cafes.
His hard copy maps are still in production and are used by many anglers. But some of the older versions have become an art form of sorts. They can be seen adorning the walls of cabins, camps, restaurants, bars, and marinas all over southern Louisiana and beyond.
The people that Glenn thanks for his success are legion. He lists all the local tackle stores, bait shops, recreational anglers, marinas, and commercial fishermen that provided the information and supported him all the way. He is especially thankful to the leadership of Lowrance for their early recognition of the potential and for putting in the hours and hours of R&D work to get it done.
Glenn Shurr on being Glenn Shurr – “I love life. I love people. I’m the greatest grandfather in the world and I’m one hell of a poker player. I am kind of happy go lucky but I’m also very competitive. I like to see people succeed and just live life to the fullest”.
Glenn’s final thoughts and advice – “Take a kid fishing - especially a teenager. I’ve never seen a kid become a thug or get in trouble with a fishing rod in his hand”
SCOOP ALERT! April 6, 2019 - Garmin has reached an agreement, in principle, to use the Standard Mapping chart format. You can expect to see the introductory card by the first of the year 2019.