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B.C. rescuers’ association warns hikers: ‘Your smartphone can turn stupid’

Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

British Columbia's government says hikers can depend on their mobile devices for directions when heading out into the backcountry now that high-resolution topographical maps can be downloaded for free.

But the B.C. Search and Rescue Association is worried the government's new map message tells hikers they can wander off into the wilderness and depend on technology to get them home.

Association president Don Bindon said Tuesday he's concerned the new maps will give hikers a false sense of security when preparation is what is needed prior to any outdoor adventure.

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"The only thing that concerns us is people think that modern technology gives them a get-out-of-trouble-free card," he said. "You can still get into trouble, and your smartphone can turn stupid on you."

Bindon said he's old-school and always carries fold-out maps along with communication devices.

The Forests, Lands and Resource Operations Ministry said the maps are especially designed to provide high-resolution images on mobile devices and allow users to zoom into areas without compromising the images.

The ministry said the new generation of maps can be downloaded and installed onto mobile devices.

The maps are created by the ministry's GeoBC branch and are updates of the government's Terrain Resource Information Management (TRIM) base map series used by hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

"With more and more British Columbians viewing digital maps on mobile devices, GeoBC has responded by developing new methods of delivering maps to resource professionals and the general public," said a Forests Ministry statement.

The ministry said the maps feature elevation contours, roads, railways, airports, transmission lines, population centres, built-up areas, municipal and regional boundaries, lakes, waterways, wetlands, wooded areas, trails, campgrounds, coastlines, parks, protected areas, place names and local landmarks.

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