We all know that computers have changed our lives for ever and today due to their influence we experience the world of maps in a totally different way to the way we did before. Long gone (for most) is the paper OS Map, you know the one that you can never ever fold up once you have unfurled it. No today we use our GPS, smartphones, PC’s or tablets to view maps.
These maps are not however anything like the ones we have been used too. They had a bit of information, like where the pubs were (PH) or the phone boxes, but beyond that the ‘useful’ information was more likely to include a spot height than anything else. If you wanted to find a place to eat you would have to cross reference to the Yellow Pages or a local phone directory. But not any more, these days maps can be overlayed with just about any set of data you want, from restaurants to flood plain data, all at a touch of a button.
Of course the items shown from device to device does vary, for instance the Points Of Interest on a Tom Tom are going to be travel and leisure related, but in some cases, like the way that Google Maps work, different types of data can be overlayed as wanted.
But what if you want an unusual data set, say land use or conservation areas, or maybe the catchment area for a school, all of which is vital stuff for people? Here you need the services of a digital mapping company, one that has access to the maps that the Ordnance Survey produce and lots of data that they have collected (or have access too) so that they can overlay the information for you.
The name for the tool set that produces such services is a Geographical Information System, which as you can perhaps tell uses Maps (the geographical part) with Information (the data part) using computers (the system part). This sort of technology is not cheap or simple, so only a few major players are out there, but rest assured, if you need to have maps, maps overlayed with data, you will be able to get them.
However, perhaps the greatest change in the use of maps is how they are being used along with aerial photography, Google’s ‘Google Earth’ perhaps being one of the most splendid examples today. Google Earth allows you to go just about anywhere these days, and with the advent of their Liquid Galaxy system, they have ‘upped the ante’ once more.
The Liquid Galaxy system consists of up to eight large LCD/LED screens all surrounding the user who is armed with a joy stick. This allows the user to perform a sort of 3 dimensional flight, enabling them to zoom down close the Earth, as well as to climb high and get a real birds eye view. I am told that it is so realistic that you could get travel sick!
I have no idea as to what will be coming next in the combined world of maps and computers, but you can be sure that it is going to be interesting!
By pixel2013 from Pixabay