Digital maps have fast replaced conventional maps. They are quick and convenient and can be downloaded onto a smart phone or other electronic device. A digital map represents roads, landmarks and other places in digital form and can be found on several computer applications including Google, Apple and Microsoft.
It wasn’t so long ago that finding an address or other landmark meant pulling out a dog-eared A-Z map book while trying to keep one hand on the steering wheel. Now Global Positioning, which uses satellite technology, is used by millions of drivers every day on GPS devices. GPS mapping is also used for navigation in shipping, aviation and by governments, the military, scientific and commercial operations.
A Geographical information system (GIS) is an offshoot of digital mapping whereby other data is stored in addition to the map. There are several organisations which provide digital mapping services, supplying a range of solutions for all kinds of businesses from town planning and civil engineering to marketing and sales.
Other mapping innovations
Google’s mapping innovation, Liquid Galaxy promises an “immersive Google Earth experience like never before”. It consists of LCD screens arranged in a circle so you can zoom around the world using satellite imagery from Google Earth. You can dodge Manhattan’s skyscrapers, swoop down to the surface of the ocean, cruise across the jungles of the Amazon or soar up to the darkness of space, just like taking the controls of your very own aircraft. Alternatively, you could just do what most of us would do, and zoom straight to the street where you grew up. If that sounds like something you’d like in your front room, Google will provide instructions on how you can build one yourself.
The tech giant has also recently launched Google Trekker, a backpack which is worn by a rambler to capture views in remote locations, including the Grand Canyon and Mount Everest. The device was recently used in the UK by the Canal and River trust to capture images of waterways.
These days, a map is no longer just a map designed to get us from A to B. Digital mapping is creating interactive environments where we can view directions, get information on ‘real time’ traffic delays and at the same time, find details of the closest restaurants.
The commercial opportunities are endless. As the technology tracks the places we visit it can display advertisements and other marketing information that is geographically relevant. In the future, maps will be highly personalised, tailored to the places we look up on search engines, the emails we send and the places our social networking friends visit
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