Introduction to Digital Cartography and Mapping Tools
Traditional maps display a geographical environment on a scale in statically, while digital cartography took the job forward by creating maps using computers that boasted of many additional interactive features such as rollover information box, zooming and clickable icons with hyperlinks.
Though the use of compass and other advanced magnetic storage devices allowed people to create more accurate maps, store and manipulate them digitally in the early days of map making, it was only in the 20th century that advanced electronic technology brought a revolution in digital cartography and computer mapping tools.
The ready availability of computer peripherals like monitors, printers, scanners, analytic stereo plotters, accessibility of computer programs for database management, correct image visualization and processing, as well as proper spatial analysis had made the entire process of map making much easier. Maps to address the needs of new industries were possible with such technology by placing spatially located variables on the existing maps to create newer ones with enhanced features and potentials.
With time, digital cartography has taken strides to become better, thereby offering modern businesses a lot of benefits as follows:
* Help visitors find your branch office locations: You can easily embed interactive online maps in your website that would help your customers to know about store locations all over the world, and help them reach any particular store with ease.
* Easy marketing in trade shows: If you are participating in a trade show, you can use digital cartography to help your potential clients locate your booth in the trade show or to guide them to the venue via an interactive street image.
* Using interactive image maps for offline use: You can easily make your offline multimedia presentations on the intranet or CDROM more engaging and interesting by using interactive image maps. Some map software even allow you to export interactive maps to JPG that you may use for your PowerPoint presentations.
* Make the maps more informative and interactive: With digital cartography at hand, you can add labels, logos and icons to specific points, show routes with curves or lines, and add text descriptions in tool tip or info boxes. All these elements make the maps more easy to follow and interactive in nature.
* Other user-friendly elements of digital cartography: Elements like map legends, map chart and zoom function in digital maps make them a preferred choice over traditional paper maps.
* Floor plans for real estate dealers: For those in the real estate business, interactive maps for floor plans of a building or mouse over boxes showing information related to homes for sale and their prices can serve a lot.
* Benefits for tourism industry: People looking to book their vacations often search for information like the best deals, the easiest route to reach a destination, any specials and discounts on offer, cheap air fares etc. Using digital cartography, you can show all these information via various interactive features, thereby making it easier for travelers to get the required data at a glance.
* Advantages for colleges and universities: Showing campus details and sharing information about various courses and their venues becomes easy with digital maps. That’s how educational institutions can benefit a lot from the use of digital cartography.
No wonder that digital maps serve as useful guides for conveying multi-faceted information through various interactive features, which in turn make them a preferred choice over their traditional counterparts.