Maps: Extraordinary Ordinary Things

If you are anything like me, you grew up driving a car with the glove compartment filled with paper maps. When the GPS (global positioning system) came along, I was not quick to adopt it because I felt that getting there was half the fun. However, I then realized that getting lost was no fun at all, so I installed a GPS, and have never looked back.

The map is one of civilization’s most ancient inventions. Ever since mankind ventured more than a few kilometers away from hearth and home, some means of directing people from where they were to where they wanted to go became essential. Maps are still very much part of our travel. Either on paper or electronically, we could hardly go anywhere without one.

The concept of a map also has important applications elsewhere, notably in mathematics and computer science. 

I therefore strongly believe that the map (or maps) very much deserves a place of honor on the list of what I like to call “Extraordinary Ordinary Things.”

A Brief History of the Map

The story is told of a young woman driving her car from one town to another. Being unfamiliar territory for her, she was dutifully following the instructions given to her by the car’s GPS. Indeed, she was following the instructions so dutifully that she didn’t notice the device was leading her directly into a local lake. While rare, such mishaps with GPS are perhaps more common than one might imagine.

In a 2017 Smithsonian Magazine article, Clive Thompson noted some observers were worried that computer-based technology represented a new, and dangerous, shift in our style of navigation.

Scientists since the 1940s have argued we normally possess an internal compass, “a map-like representation within the black box of the nervous system,” as geographer Rob Kitchin puts it. It’s how we know where we are in our neighborhoods, our cities, the world.

Is it possible that today’s global positioning systems and smartphones are affecting our basic ability to navigate? Will technology alter forever how we get around?

Most certainly—because it already has. Three thousand years ago, our ancestors began a long experiment in figuring out how they fit into the world, by inventing a bold new tool: the map.

The article details, ironically, one of the oldest surviving maps, known as the Babylonian Map of the World, is about the size and shape of an early iPhone. Created around 700–500 BCE in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), it depicts a circular Babylon at its center, bisected by the Euphrates River and surrounded by the ocean. It doesn’t have much detail (just the names of a few regions in the area) because it was never meant for navigation but rather to help the map readers to gain an understanding of the scope of the whole world with them at the center.

Since accuracy was of little concern to ancient mapmakers (cartographers), it is not surprising that some basic principles of cartography had to wait many centuries before being announced.

Claudius Ptolemy is credited with attempting to devise means of making realistic representations of the world’s geography.

An astronomer/astrologer, Ptolemy (100–170 CE) was obsessed with making accurate horoscopes, which required precisely placing the town where someone was born on a world map. To do so, Ptolemy gathered documents detailing the locations of towns together with information from travelers. His work also entailed devising a system of lines of latitude and longitude. Overall, he plotted some 10,000 locations in Britain, Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Like most educated Greeks and Romans at the time, he knew the Earth is spherical, so he also invented ways of flattening his data to fit on a two-dimensional surface. He described this new approach in Geography, which was written around 150 CE.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Ptolemy’s primordial Geography became lost for almost a thousand years. Once again maps were used for telling stories rather than providing realistic information.

One famous example, the Mappa Mundi, was made in Hereford, England (circa 1300). Measuring 1.59 x 1.34 meters (5 feet 2 inches by 4 ft 4 in), the map is constructed on a single sheet of vellum (calf skin). It shows the history, geography, and destiny of humanity as it was understood in Christian Europe in the late 13th and early 14th centuries.

At the top of the map are images showing Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden, and Christ returning on the Day of Judgment. Elsewhere there are several highly imaginative pictures of other parts of the world. For example, a lynx is shown striding across Asia Minor (“it sees through walls and urinates a black stone,” the mapmakers noted). Noah’s Ark is perched up in Armenia. And Africa is shown as populated by people with eyes and mouths located in their shoulders rather than in a non-existent head.

Demand for Better Maps

The coming of the European Renaissance (15th century) meant that maps had to substantially improve. Ships carrying explorers and merchants began crossing oceans, while kings constructing increasingly larger empires needed some way to chart their new territories. Fortunately for these land-hungry crowned heads (but less fortunate for the people already on these lands), the advent of reliable compasses helped create “portolan” maps, which had lines crisscrossing the sea from port to port, helping guide sailors. At the same time, after being lost for centuries, Ptolemy’s ancient work was rediscovered, and new maps were drawn based on his thousand-year-old calculations.

However, there were significant problems to overcome. Ptolemy thought the world was 30 percent smaller than it actually is. Moreover, mapmakers were using Arabian miles, which were longer than Italian ones, which led to significant errors or navigation.

In 1569, Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator helped revolutionize sea travel when he unveiled what has been described as “the single greatest innovation in mapping after Ptolemy”—the Mercator Projection. At the time, the Mercator Projection was by far and away the best to represent the three-dimension surface of a globe on a two-dimension flat map. This was achieved by gradually widening the land masses and oceans the farther north and south they appear on the map.

While of inestimable value to navigators, this means of picturing the world inevitably led to distortion. Countries close to the geographic poles, e.g., Canada and Russia, were artificially enlarged, while regions at the equator artificially shrank. As noted by Mark Monmonier, author of How to Lie with Maps, “No map entirely tells the truth…There’s always some distortion, some point of view.”

As maps became more readily available, they became somewhat of a status symbol. As noted by Rose Mitchell, a map archivist at the National Archives of the United Kingdom, educated people began collecting maps and displaying them “to show off how knowledgeable they were.” Even if they couldn’t read the words on a map from a foreign country, they could generally understand it, which enhanced their social status.

Maps also became tools of power. As related in Thompson’s article:

With a good map, a military had an advantage in battle, a king knew how much land could be taxed. Western maps showing Africa’s interior as empty—the mapmakers had little to go on—gave empires dreamy visions of claiming Africa for themselves. All that empty space seemed, to them, ripe for the taking.

Maps were so valuable for navigation that they became the object of plunder. For example, when the 17th-century buccaneer Bartholomew Sharp captured a Spanish ship, he was said to have exclaimed: “In this prize I took a Spanish manuscript of prodigious value… It describes all the ports, harbors, bayes, Sands, rock and rising of the land. They were going to throw it overboard but by good luck I saved it. The Spanish cried when I got the book.”

Thanks to major advances in mathematical reasoning and measurement technology, the importance and applications of maps virtually exploded. Thompson shared the following:

In France, the Cassini family crisscrossed the country to calculate its dimensions with precision never before seen. Their trick? Using “triangulation”—a bit of trigonometry—to let them stitch together thousands of measurements taken by peering through the new, high-tech “theodolite.” Breakthroughs in binocular lenses allowed surveyors to measure scores of miles at a glance. World maps became increasingly accurate.

Local mapping became deeply granular. The British Ordnance Survey began mapping the U.K. down to the square yard, and the German entrepreneur Karl Baedeker produced similarly nuanced maps of European cities. Tourists could now confidently tour foreign realms, their annually updated guides in hand, able to locate individual buildings, much like today’s citizens peering at Google Maps on their phones.  Being prominent on a local map was valuable to merchants, so mapmakers in the U.S. sold the rights.

Already useful in earlier conflicts, maps became indispensable in the Second World War. U.K. “Winston Churchill fought with guidance from his “map room,” an underground chamber where up to 40 military staffers would shove colored pins into the map-bedecked walls. Churchill adorned his bedroom wall with a huge map showing Britain’s coast, constantly visualizing in his mind how to defend it against invasion,” writes Thompson

Today, of course, fewer people are using printed maps because we now have GPS and online map websites, Google Maps being only one example. Some people lament the passing (or more accurately the diminution) of printed maps in favor of electronic ones; others praise the change. However, it is not an all-or-nothing situation. Ardent defenders of printed maps recognize certain advantages of electronic maps; likewise, ardent promoters of electronic maps recognize certain advantages of printed maps. This is hardly surprising. Remember: “No map entirely tells the truth. There’s always some distortion, some point of view.”

Maps in Computing

Although the computer was invented thousands of years after the invention of the map, today’s digital maps make computers the sine qua non of modern map design, production, and distribution. Conversely, computing as we know it today could not have come into being without benefiting from fundamental ideas of ancient map theory and execution.

The primordial role of the map in computer science largely derives from the concept of a “function” in mathematics (which is also called a “map”).

Computing employs two prominent types of maps:

  • The 1-column index table
  • The 2-column associative table

Every function can be stored as a 2-column map. However, some functions, those with a limited sequence of x-values (x=1,2,…,N) can be stored more efficiently as a 1-column table showing the value f(x) in the x-th position.

From these two generalized definitions of map come more specific definitions and uses of “map” in computing.

As a noun

  • A set of data that has a corresponding relationship to another set of data.
  • A list of data or objects as they are currently stored in memory or disk.
  • MAP (Manufacturing Automation Protocol). A communications protocol introduced by General Motors in 1982. MAP provides common standards for interconnecting computers and programmable machine tools used in factory automation.
  • The documentation that describes the overall structure of a software program or hardware device,
  • A link to another computer, share, or printer in a network
  • Regarding HTML, the <map> tag is used with the area element to designate an image map on a web page.

As a verb

  • Assign a path or drive letter to a disk drive.
  • Transfer a set of objects from one place to another. For example, program modules on disk are mapped into memory. A graphic image in memory is mapped onto the video screen.
  • Translate or convert from one format to another. For example, an address is mapped to another address. A logical database structure is mapped to the physical database.
  • Relate one set of objects with another. For example, a vendor’s protocol stack is mapped to the OSI model. An alias is mapped to the true name of the object.

Invention of the computer gave rise to the technology of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in the 1960s. GIS allowed researchers to analyze and represent spatial statistics in a way that had never been feasible in fields such as archaeology, natural resource management, planetary science, and numerous others.

Specifically, with regard to computer science, it gave rise to “pin mapping” (address matching, geocoding). Pin mapping is the process of assigning map coordinate locations to records in a database. Pin mapping is carried out by using a GIS (geographic information system) to compare the geographic elements of each feature in the database (e.g., address, city, postal code, etc.) to the attributes of each feature in a map layer to find a match. The output of pin mapping is a point layer attributed with the data from the input database.

Maps and Culture

As suggested above, maps can affect how people see the world and their place in it. This fundamental aspect of maps deserves to be explored somewhat further.

You may be familiar with the phrase “Here be dragons.” While the phrase itself was rarely used, certain early medieval and Renaissance maps featuring images of beasts including dragons were quite common.

The purpose of these maps was to communicate to readers that the unknown is something to be feared, detected, and conquered. Dragons were understood to be symbols of sin, related to the biblical snake, and other similarly depraved beasts. In turn, these maps helped to justify the often-brutal colonization of the peoples of the New World and elsewhere, who were depicted as barbaric, uncultured, and beast-like.

Modern maps also transmit certain cultural ideas, of which the mapmakers and commissioners of maps may or may not be conscious. Likewise, users of maps may or may not be aware that they are consuming such cultural ideas.

For instance, there are differences in how map phone applications display their content and what they show. In 2016, a study was conducted to analyze the differences in how Google Maps and Apple Maps render the same geography. The researchers found when compared, Google Maps focused more on transit (how to get somewhere) while Apple Maps focused more on places to go and things to do when you get there.

This is a rather trivial example. Conscious or unconscious decisions about how to depict geography can be much more consequential. With the rise of digital technology, it has become possible for anyone who wishes to collect, create, and analyze spatial data. While the field of Geospatial Information Science (GIScience) began at least as far back as the early 19th century, the advent of the computer in the mid-20th century gave rise to GIS technology, which allowed researchers to analyze and represent spatial statistics in a way that had never before been feasible before.

At its core, GIS technology is simply a way of representing and analyzing spatial information with the use of a computer. It has applications in a broad range of fields such as archaeology, natural resource management, planetary science, etc. Wherever information and space are involved, GIS is an almost indispensable tool.

The COVID-19 pandemic provides a powerful case in point. As the pandemic hit countries across the world, GIS suddenly became very visible. GIS-manufactured COVID-19 dashboards (displays) rapidly became a common feature across government websites.

The pandemic placed GIS technology at the center of daily life, guiding decisions and definitions about what is “safe” or “not safe.”

During the pandemic, certain politicians were accused of falsifying data to put their handling of COVID-19 better than it actually was, one celebrated case being in the U.S. state of Florida.

Unquestionably falsification of data can and does occur; however, inadvertent misrepresentation of data on maps is probably much more common. This is because automation offered by GIS programs makes it possible to create convincing graphic representation of data (a kind of map) with inadequate understanding of statistics or lack of awareness of how some analytical tools are not suited to certain data.

Cartographers recognize several other ways maps can intentionally or unintentionally be misleading.

Map Idioms

The word and concept of the map have given rise to several idioms (colloquial expressions). Here are a few of them.

All over the map.

  • Spread out or scattered over a great distance. “We just got into the car and drove all over the map. It’s amazing the interesting things you can find when you aren’t looking for them.”
  • Occurring in or having a great number and variety. “Public opinion is all over the map about the proposal to build a new bridge over the river.”
  • Unorganized or scattered in thinking, communication, or planning. “I don’t understand Joh’s opposition to the idea. His objections are all over the map.”

Off the map.

In a distant, remote, or obscure state or location. “The restaurant is a bit off the map, but the environment is cozy, the food delicious, and the service impeccable.”

Blow off the map/Wipe off the map.

Totally eliminate, eradicate, or destroy someone or something. “The hurricane literally blew the entire town off the map.”

Fall off the map

Become unpopular or lose recognition after a period of popularity. “Wow, is that pop group still performing? After their first three hits, I thought they had fallen off the map.”

Map (something) out/Lay down a road map.

Establish a plan, a set of guidelines, a course of action, etc. “If we don’t map this out (lay down a road map), we will almost certainly run into serious problems halfway through the project.”

Map (something) onto (something else).

To find or illustrate the connections between two things. “Scientists hope that this research will make it possible to map the function of a tiny set of nerves onto the musculoskeletal system to better and less intrusive ways to treat chronic debilitating disease.”

Put (someone, something, or someplace) on the map.

Make a person, place, or thing famous or renowned; to establish some place as being remarkable or noteworthy. “The dining critic’s description of the restaurant’s ambiance as cozy, the food delicious, and the service impeccable is really going to put this place on the map.”

The map is not the territory.

A person or thing is separate from the judgments or perceptions people place on it. The dictum was coined by American semanticist Alfred Korzybski. “I know you dislike Ed because of how he acted in that meeting, but you don’t actually know him. Just keep in mind that the map is not the territory, OK?”

Throw a map.

To vomit (obsolete slang). “With that combination of bizarre ingredients, you might expect that eating it would cause you to throw a map. Actually, it’s surprisingly good.”

To conclude, here are a couple of somewhat obscure but still current uses of the word “map” as a noun.

  • Face. “With a map like that and a voice like that, he is certain to become a pop star.”
  • Sheet music. “Here’s a map of my new composition. Put it on the piano and give it a try.”

Fun Facts About Maps

  • Placing the North at the top of a map is a convention, not a requirement. During the Middle Ages, the majority of western maps placed East at the top.
  • The first known map for putting North on top and South at the bottom was made in Korea. It was created in 1402 by Kwon Kun, an astronomer. Experts tend to believe that North was placed on top because Koreans associated looking North with looking at the emperor.
  • There are two Norths, called magnetic north and geographic (true) north. Magnetic north refers to the magnetic field around the Earth, being the direction that the north end of a compass needle points. Geographic (true) north is the northern extremity of the axis on which the Earth rotates. The north magnetic pole is currently about 400 kilometers south of the north geographic pole. However, the magnetic north pole is not stable and moves over time, a very long time, up to 40 kilometers a year.
  • The oldest sphere map on record dates back to around 1,500 and was engraved on the shell of an ostrich egg. It also marks the first time the phrase “here be dragons” Latin: hic sunt dracones)” appeared on a map.
  • In 44 CE, Pliny the Elder, an ancient Roman thinker, wrote that all creatures on the land had a counterpart in the ocean. Under Pliny’s influence, ancient cartographers would draw sea monsters on their maps to appear like aquatic versions of accustomed land animals such as sea cows, sea pigs, sea serpents.
  • During the Second World War, British game maker Waddington PLC helped the war effort by stitching silk maps into their Monopoly game boards. They also mixed real money in with the game’s fake money and added new playing pieces such as a real functioning compass. These reimagined games were then shipped to war prisoner of war camps to help prisoners escape.
  • During medieval times in Europe, most maps of the world (mappa mundi) were used by royals and nobles to display their wealth rather than as navigation tools. This was because they were so expensive to create by hand. Only about 1,100 mappa mundi survive from that period.
  • The phrase mappa mundi (world map) is derived from Medieval Latin, mappa meaning cloth and mundi is the world.
  • Modern cartographers often include fake towns and places on their maps. Thus, when they come across a map with similar phony towns and places, they can be certain it is an illegal copy.
  • In the mid-19th century, London suffered a severe outbreak of cholera. John Snow (1813–1858), a pioneering epidemiologist made a detailed map of where the cholera cases were occurring. He then used the map to establish that a specific public water pump seemed to be responsible. When the pump was shut down, the cases of cholera quickly began to decline.
  • At the beginning of the 1930s, maps were given out for free in American gas (petrol) stations in order to encourage automobile usage—and not incidentally to sell more gas. Oh, how times have changed.

Quotations about Maps

You can often learn a lot about the impact of an invention on society by listening to what people have said about its evolution and integration into daily life. Here are a number of quotations about the virus to prove the point.

“Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.”—Muhammad Ali

“There’s no map to human behavior.”—Bjork

“The reinvention of daily life means marching off the edge of our maps”—Bob Black

“Remember, taboos are just a map of what a society feels it’s acceptable to be neurotic about.”—Frankie Boyle

“A face is a road map of someone’s life. Without any need to amplify that or draw attention to it, there’s a great deal that’s communicated about who this person is and what their life experiences have been.”—Chuck Close

“You can’t use an old map to explore a new world.”—Albert Einstein

“Among the map makers of each generation are the risk takers, those who see the opportunities, seize the moment and expand man’s vision of the future”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

“That is the charm of the map. It represents the other side of the horizon where everything is possible.”—Rosita Forbes

“Art is the act of navigating without a map.”—Seth Godin

“If you don’t know where you are, a map won’t help.”—Watts Humphrey

“Maps are essential. Planning a journey without a map is like building a house without drawings.”—Mark Jenkins

“Map out your future, but do it in pencil.”—Jon Bon Jovi

“You’ll learn more about a road by traveling it than by consulting all the maps in the world.”—Ray Kroc

“By visualizing information, we turn it into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes: a sort of information map. And when you’re lost in information, an information map is kind of useful.”—David McCandless

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.”—Herman Melville

“Google has placed its faith in data, while Apple worships the power of design. This dichotomy made the two companies complementary. Apple would ship the phones and computers, while Google would provide Maps, Search, YouTube, and other web tools that made the devices more useful.”—Ben Parr

“Our children long for realistic maps of the future that they can be proud of. Where are the cartographers of human purpose?”—Carl Sagan

“I do want to emphasize that we’ve seen an explosion in the use of Google Maps and Google Earth for education. The earth is a special place. It is our home and it’s why we’re all here. And the ability to see what’s really going on the earth, the good stuff and the bad stuff, at the level that you can, is phenomenal.”—Eric Schmidt

“Somewhere there is a map of how it can be done.”—Ben Stein

“I am told there are people who do not care for maps, and I find it hard to believe.”—Robert Louis Stevenson

“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing.”—Oscar Wilde

Where Do We Go From Here?

The short answer is: “Everywhere.” The longer answer is: “Everywhere, and with greater convenience.” The technology for creating digital maps and making them available to virtually anyone who knows how to operate a smartphone is unquestionably the leitmotiv of the future of mapping. People will continue to use printed paper maps perhaps for the next couple of decades or so, but in declining numbers.

At the same time, as more and more people start using digital maps, the expectations of those maps will increase—developing the strategies and technologies needed to create and distribute them will face significant challenges.

As noted in a 2019 post from Geoawesomeness:

Over the past few decades, messaging took over communication, broadcast video shifted to on-demand video, and operating systems took on entirely new forms in a mobile world. Yet, mapping software tools remain mostly unchanged. We built tools to make satellite-based maps faster, prettier, and easier to consume across web and mobile. Yet, the dominance of satellite imagery meant that innovation around mapping tools stagnated.

Mapping is changing because the primary mapping data source is no longer satellite imagery. Video, LiDAR, radar (all together VLR) and derived Machine Learning data are becoming kings of mapping data. Said another way, the eyes at the edge (VLR) are contributing the vast majority of mapping data with few mapping applications taking advantage of it. This means the mapping pipeline to ingest data from VLR sensors and mapping software tools we use for mapping and geospatial analytics must change.

As millions of new VLR sensors are deployed today’s static satellite-based mapping software will fall farther and farther behind. The time is past due for a new model of map that can adapt to modern needs; a living, machine-generated map.

Georg Gartner, a professor in the Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation at Vienna University of Technology, is rather more expansive in outlining necessary developments in map-making:

What we can expect in the near future is, that information is available anytime and anywhere. In its provision and delivery, it is tailored to the user’s context and needs. In this, the context is a key selector for which and how information is provided. Cartographic services will thus be widespread and of daily use in a truly ubiquitous manner. Persons would feel spatially blind without using their map-based services, which enable them to see who or what is near them, get supported, and do searches based on the current location, [and] collect data on site accurately and timely. Modern cartography applications are already demonstrating their huge potential and change how we work, how we live, and how we interact.

In that sense, the role of the map has changed. Maps used to be artifacts, they had to look beautiful [and] well-designed; they had to store information for a long time because it needed to be used over a long period of time. In modern cartography there is an increasing number of functions to a map. Besides its old function as an artifact, a modern map is also an interface that gives human users access to information stored in the map and beyond the map in databases. The map has therefore the function of a table, structuring information through spatial attributes. And if a modern map is such an interface, giving access to structured information, then the concept of modern cartography in one sentence would be “efficient communication of geospatial information.

What is changing is then how maps are derived and produced. We can summarize the characteristics of modern maps as follows:

Real time. The world is permanently changing. To depict, communicate, and display the world means to depict, communicate, and display what is there right now, thus, to find ways to shorten the time between data acquisition and data representation through maps. This is already true in real-time maps and rapid mapping approaches.

Ubiquitous. The accessibility and availability of maps need to be considered in a ubiquitous context; thus, maps must be accessible and available anytime and anywhere.

Media-adequate. Maps are to be displayed and disseminated through various media. This can include paper, screens of all kinds of formats, resolutions and sizes, or multimedia environments. This might also include future smart watches, wearable devices, augmented reality devices, etc. Whatever medium is used, the map needs to be tailored particularly for this medium to fit its needs and constraints.

Personalized. Maps are interfaces between geoinformation and human users, thus a means of communication. From human communication, we can learn that we usually adapt what and [h]ow we communicate to our communication partner. Modern maps will do the same, thus being adaptive, reactive, and anticipative on the context, the user, and the use.

Well designed. Whatever map is used in whatever context on whatever medium for whatever reason there is a dogmatic attribute, which has to be followed always when using maps: A map has to be readable! This simply means that it has to be visually perceivable. And this means that we need to avoid graphical conflicts. And we can do even more: we can not only make it readable but design it in a way, that it is pleasing to the eye, thus do more than conveying information.

The successful development of modern cartography as the discipline dealing with the development of such modern maps requires integrated interdisciplinary approaches from such domains as computer science, communication science, human-computer interaction, telecommunication sciences, cognitive sciences, law, economics, geospatial information management, and cartography. It is those interdisciplinary approaches, which make sure that we work towards human-centered application developments by applying innovative engineering methods and tools in a highly volatile technological framework.

Here are two areas of application where digital maps over the short to medium term must improve. 

  • Self-driving (autonomous) cars

The subject of science fiction only a decade or two ago, today self-driving (autonomous) cars are actually on the road. Still in very small numbers and generally under such stern restrictions that they now seem more like “proof-of-concept” test models than viable commercial vehicles. However, substantial research and development have been set in train to tackle the challenges.

The digital maps used by people to drive their own cars are well suited to the purpose, but they are insufficient for autonomous cars, particularly in urban environments. Today’s digital maps for driving are created by the use of GPS and aerial photography, but such maps are accurate to only about five meters. While a live driver can easily maneuver their way through an urban neighborhood; however, with this accuracy a driverless autonomous car would find itself continually bumping into things.

Fortunately, GPS satellites needed for making digital maps for autonomous cars are rapidly improving. We are not there yet, but we are not all that far away

  • Smart cities

Increasing urbanization throughout the world is causing city planners to question how their cities are organized and run. In particular, they are looking at things such as how to manage environmental resources, mitigate pollution. make cities more pleasant and accessible, etc.

Achieving these objectives will require significantly improving digital city maps to better see where unsuspected problems exist, where minor problems may be developing into major ones, predicting future problems to be avoided and future opportunities to be embraced, etc.

According to Concept3D, a virtual and interactive mapping technology company, the digital map is expected to bring in $29 billion in global revenues in 2024, nearly double the $15.3 billion recorded in 2021 and appreciably above the $19.1 billion recorded in 1922. Worldwide revenues from the digital map are expected to continue their ineluctable ascent, reaching a staggering $55.2 billion by 2031, a period of just 10 years. In the words of one enthusiast (and probably echoed by numerous others), “Digital maps rule the world!”