GeoCarta Has Moved

Nov 14, 2005

Golden Age Of Maps?

The Charlotte Observer has taken a look at the increasing use of the internet and GPS and is predicting a "golden age" of maps.

For almost as long as there has been civilization, there have been maps -- to record the boundaries of property and territories, to identify landmarks, to show the way to destinations.

Now, thanks to satellite photography, global information systems and advances in computer technology, cartographers -- professional and amateur -- are entering what promises to be a new golden age of maps.

Over the last 10 years, the Internet has revolutionized access to mapping tools. Millions print maps and travel directions every day, all swiftly generated on a half-dozen free and easy-to-access sites.

Global Positioning System units in cars use a network of stationary satellites to guide travel with astonishing precision. Hand-held GPS units can locate anyone at any place on the globe, and even allow some techno-geeks to play an increasingly popular and sophisticated form of hide-and-seek.

Among the innovations the Observer cites that have been made possible by the, "marriage of maps, computers and the Internet":

  • Cities can make real-time assessments of development patterns.

  • Third World countries can plan for growth to lessen environmental damage of development.

  • Tracking bird flu in Asia. Managing explosive urban development in China.

The Observer is also excited by the fact that, "Anyone can become a sophisticated cartographer..." using the National Atlas of the United States of America.

The last three innovations cited are:
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission; Google Earth; and the countless mash-ups.

Complete article here.