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Digital mapping as a step forward for mapping creation

Let’s see a little bit about how digital maps work and what we can expect from them in the future.

google maps on dash in car
Image: Unsplash

It’s hard to think about it now, but not so long ago, people created maps by hand. Such a task was time-consuming and implied a lot of effort, so it was just a matter of time for cartographers to turn to digital technologies like digital imaging and .NET development services to come up with the next generation of maps. 

That was when digital mapping was born. This process implies the collection of data from a certain area to later compile it into a virtual image. Though that’s the basic definition, digital mapping has become a widespread practice that has evolved a lot in the last decade, especially thanks to the popularization of GPS devices.

Now, digital maps are capable of showing more than just roads and terrain. They are now showing points of interest, service locations, and live updates with relevant information such as traffic jams. What’s more, they’ve become “user conscious” which means that they are more interactive and immersive.

Let’s see a little bit about how digital maps work and what we can expect from them in the future.

The difficulties in map creation

Mapping has never been easy. And that’s not just considering the traditional by-hand method for their creation. Even the most advanced .NET developers struggle to create maps that are accurate and informative. How can that be?

That’s because there are two types of barriers for the creation of maps. On one hand, there’s something psychological about how people use maps. Since “professional” maps are created to show common information, their users might feel somewhat lost. Why? Because a map with “general knowledge” doesn’t include personal information that can be more helpful for users.

Let’s say you have to draw a map for a friend to get to a supermarket near your house. You could verbally describe the best way to get there while you draw it. Since you’ll obviously miss a lot of details, your improvised map will include personal information you feel will be more relevant.

google maps battery
Image: Unsplash

You’ll include things like “a blue house”, “a tall oak tree”, or “the parking lot that’s always empty.” All of those feel important for you, so that’s why you include them. In your view, those elements make it easier for your friend to find the way. A professional map might include them (especially digital ones) but they’ll be lost among a lot of other details.

There’s another issue at play – technological barriers. Though today we can use a lot of digital tools readily available, from .NET development libraries to open-source tools, they can be prohibitive. That can be because of their cost or because of how can complex it can be to master them.

Thus, map creation feels somewhat restricted, even in times where it seems that everything is there for anyone interested in it. Fortunately, digital maps and the community of enthusiasts and experts around it are taking big strides to overcome these challenges.

How digital mapping makes map creation easier

The main advantage brought by digital maps is how easy it is for experts, map creators, and .NET development outsourcing teams to make changes. With paper maps, an error that needed to be fixed required them to create the entire map from scratch. With digital maps, professionals can easily change anything without the need for reworking the entire map.

Of course, that’s not the only thing that makes digital mapping so advanced. Thanks to data collection, digital maps have become increasingly precise and now offer sophisticated features, like real-time warnings about the traffic, weather, and other important events. All of that is possible thanks to the combination of satellite imagery and street-level information.

Images that come from satellites have been a staple of digital maps from the get-go. But it’s the combination with the information gathered on the terrain that makes current maps so sophisticated. The rising use of smartphones, the introduction of data collection devices at terrain level such as the ones used by the Google team, and the increasing presence of drones are making maps more precise than ever. As an added bonus, maps are becoming more complex, offering a full “life-like experience.”

google maps timeline
Image: VentureBeat

The widespread use of digital maps and their adoption by several types of users are fostering further complexity for maps. Not only people are using maps on their smartphones to get wherever they need to go (providing valuable feedback and new data to adjust maps), but there are also scientists and businesses across industries using them, from people in geology and mining to professionals in architecture, engineering, archaeology, and land surveying.

The most expected change in digital mapping will come with the rollout of 5G, the next generation of mobile networks. Thanks to its higher speeds and lower latency, 5G will be widely used across a lot of devices, mostly for everything related to the so-called Internet of Things (IoT). Though those devices and sensors will be installed in a lot of things in our everyday life, the ones installed in driverless cars, roads, and cities will prove best for digital mapping.

The 5G devices will bring greater accuracy in positioning services. That’s because positioning uses telecom stations that need to be synchronized with one another. The faster this synchronization happens, the more accurate the positioning is. The increase will be so notorious that it is believed that 5G will popularize 3D location estimates, boosting the creation of more precise 3D maps.

All of that will provide the best context for location-based services for industries to take advantage from. Fields like transportation, retail, marketing, and advertising will increase their expansion and root themselves in specific areas. That, in turn, will enable more interaction possibilities through mobile devices and their mapping apps.

Some final words

Digital mapping has been a great step forward for mapping creation. The level of detail and precision we can get from those maps today can’t be compared with the hand-drawn maps of yesterday. Besides, the inclusion of interactive features and relevant real-time data that digital mapping made possible brought a lot of possibilities both for users and map creators.

What’s more – digital mapping is about to go even bigger. Thanks to the rollout of 5G, digital maps will become even more accurate and will bring about 3D maps that will feel more immersive and unique. Imagine navigating a real map as if you were in a video game, getting information and buying things from stores only for them to be delivered to your home. The future of digital mapping might as well look like that since the foundations for its growth are already in place.

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