2005 – year of the map? Year of the internet mapping perhaps!

July 24th, 2005

Robert Scoble made a post entitled 2005 to be known as year of the map. 2005 certainly has seen some amazing free mapping developments online (and free here is the key). There's no doubt that Google Maps, Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth. Global mapping has hit the web in a big way.

But I don't think I'd call 2005 the year of the map. Why, Because it's nothing new. For example, I have the whole of the UK on my PC down to 1:25000 scale, complete with aerial mapping. In fact, I have data from a number of companies (same data, Ordnance Survey stuff). I have have tools based on NAVTEQ data for the whole of the UK and Europe. The Americans have been fortunate enough to have high-detail mapping available on CD at a low price for years (very cheap compared to the Ordnance Survey data here in the UK). GPS receivers have more and more memory, allowing them to pack more data on-board.

I can do 3D projections of terrain an landscapes, waypointing, route planning and all that easily. I can transfer it to my GPS or iPAQ. On my iPAQ I have turn-by-turn navigation from one address to another for pretty much the whole of Europe.

Mapping is nothing new. What's created such a buzz is free mapping on the web (although mapping on the web existed long before Google or Microsoft got involved). But it's important for people to realise that this data is now only being made free (of free-ish, there's money changing hands down the chain) because what the user can do with it is pretty basic. Take a look at 3D terrain in an application like Memory Map and Google Earth starts to look "basic" indeed.

Bringing mapping to the masses is a great thing, many people get a great deal of joy from looking at and studying maps, but it's important not to forget that mapping existed before Google, Microsoft and the internet.

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 24th, 2005 at 11:40 and is filed under PC Doctor's Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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