Posts Tagged ‘custom mapping

30
Nov
12

In Theaters Now – Caught Mapping, The Movie.

Ever wondered what goes into a map? We let the cameras behind the scenes at Maps.com to reveal the intricate and detailed work of our expert draftsmen and scouts. Its truly amazing some of the tricks they use to ensure that maps can be updated almost every 2 weeks! All done unmindful of gruelling road and weather conditions.

Vacuum frames, glass negatives and zinc plates – Enjoy this 9 minute vintage movie all about mapping for the modern motorist, keeping pace with the rapid change of America’s roads.

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03
Oct
12

Maps for the Blind: From 1837 to today.

Recently a group of Maps.com representatives head to San Diego for the ESRI User Conference.

They absorbed a ton of information covering wide and varied topics in the mapping and spatial data arena. One of the main themes of the conference and a recurring one in Cartographic arenas is how we gather, process and present the amazing amounts of data now available via the internet. 3-D terrain data, publicly sourced cartographic data, Landsat imagery and collaborative imagery management are all topics that were discussed and reviewed at the event.

Using a tactile map

When creating maps for the blind, less is truly more. For a product to successfully convey spatial data it must be limited to the most vital information and avoid data ‘clutter’. This most disciplined branch of Cartography has actually been around for over 180 years and  is addressed in this recent Strange Maps article. Those with visual impairment and blindness are required to be more spatially aware than most of us as they negotiate the hazards of everyday life, but when it comes to the bigger picture cartography frequently comes up short in trying to deliver ‘the Google Maps’ experience to this audience.

In 1837 the New England Institute for the Blind published 50 copies of the ‘Atlas of the United States printed for the use of the Blind’. The maps are produced in a Braille-type print that embosses the various lines of the map for touch reading. The text was not produced in Braille (an alphabet consisting of raised dots in various configurations) but in standard Latin characters. The ocean is distinguished by horizontal cross-hatching and the major cities are identified using a key. There are 24 state maps which included numbers for latitude and longitude and illustrations for mountain ranges.

Each map is accompanied by a descriptive piece outlining points of note about the region covered, again using Latin characters as opposed to Braille.

Despite being a pioneering innovation, with such limited circulation it is difficult to regard the atlas as a major commercial success, however parallels can be drawn  with some of the innovations in contemporary cartography as we attempt to use our maps to solve very specific problems and address the difficulties of presenting complex data in a user friendly format. This atlas also represents the first instance of touch operated maps – an altogether more common attribute since the advent of the iPad.

Jump forward to today and there several approaches to providing mapping for the blind. A German project, The Look and Listen map, is attempting to crowd source data that we naturally absorb and process and adapt to as we walk down the street. For example locating street crossings that have tactile paving and sound or vibration alerts can be a vital part of safely negotiating a busy downtown. In France, researchers have used stereo cameras mounted on glasses to record and render 3D imagesthat are then translated through an electronic tactile device that instantly produces embossed maps similar to the ones Lowe produced, but with greater detail and accuracy.

Maine Map for Blind Readers

Map of Maine, S. Howe 1837. C. David Rumsey Collection

“The ability to wander around and get  lost on a map is so much better than getting lost in real life” said Josh Miele, a scientist at the Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, himself blind, in an interview with NPR. The maps they have developed are printed by the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco using an automated version of Lowe’s embossing process, which enable blind people to build up a strong cognitive understanding of an area before they have visited it.

The report reveals a change in the attitudes of cognitive scientists who have long believed that blind people could never understand maps because they are visual representations of spatial concepts. While tools such as the Trekker Breeze – a GPS device that gives voice prompts regarding current locations, intersections etc offer a detailed view of immediate surroundings, tactile maps give a much broader relational view of an area. Interestingly the concept of all maps being a ‘spatial’ tool as much as a visual tool is reinforced when one considers the pros and cons of the Breeze-type device versus the Braille print version.

Smith Kettlewell have been attempting to bridge the gap with its Audio Tactile maps which include a detailed audio component activated when using a tactile map. They have produced a version for the BART stations in San Francisco including street, concourse and platform maps for each station.

Much more of the atlas can be viewed here in the David Rumsey collection.

19
Sep
12

business insider: you are really going to hate apple maps

Business insider is reporting that the initial findings on the new Apple Maps app is that it really sucks.

The new iOS6 will drop Google as the default mapping program and begin using the package that Apple has developed with a number of vendors including TomTom.

Apples new iPhone5

Several differences have been highlighted, including the lack of transit information in the new package, but Apple intends to overcome this by integrating the best public transit apps around, providing a more thorough handling of local transportation.

However, many developers and privileged insiders are already using iOS6 and are reporting a much bigger problem with the maps – they don’t use Google. Apple has utilized the Yelp search engine to provide results for geographic queries. However those used to the powerful Google engine could well be disappointed with the results. According to BI, one Apple Repair Shop employee they interviewed demonstrated how a search for ‘Ipad Repair’ yielded no results. Yelps struggles with searches that are not based on Yelp categories, business names or addresses.

To add to the noise, Noam Barden, CEO of Waze (itself a super social/crowdsourced/opensource mapping application that runs on the iPhone) is quoted as saying that TomTom were “the weakest player” that Apple could have partnered with, and warns that users may find that at least initially, many places just don’t show up or are misplaced on the maps.

2 million pre-order customers are still coming to terms with the fact that their old cables will not be usable on their new iPhone 5s,  so the lack of a quality mapping application on their 5th generation handset could make life unbearable for a short time. Whilst we can only speculate as to how much of an inconvenience the teething troubles will be, this is yet another reminder as to the huge hold that Google continues to have over the world’s geographic data.

Rest assured that print maps will not be affected by the new operating system and can be purchased here.

Unhappy with your new iPhone 5? If you experience disappointment with your brand new gadget, whether because of cables, maps, reception or any other reason, our editors will happily exchange them for fully tested alternative phones from big name suppliers including Ericsson, Nokia and Motorola, fully tested over long periods (ie used).

25
Jul
12

More flooding devastates China.

For the second time in 2 years China is reeling from massive flooding that has left death and destruction in its wake.

NBC News: Flooding in central Beijing

Last weekend Beijing, China‘s capital, experienced its biggest rainstorm in 60 years. Rain flooded streets and underpasses, caused buildings to collapse and led to 37 confirmed fatalities.

Many residents were critical of the preparations and handling by the Chinese authorities, who announced in 2010 the development of a flood risk map to identify those regions most at risk. The city has been modernized so quickly – with much of the most recent focus around the 2008 Olympic Games – critics are suggesting that essential infrastructure improvements including drainage have not kept pace.

In defense, Ministry of Transport Engineers argue that no city could cope with what equates to six months’ average rainfall in a single day.

Most embarrassing for the Chinese authorities was the closure of Beijings airport – stranding tens of thousands and preventing hundreds of flights from coming in or out. China relies heavily on international business visitors as it continues its global expansion of trade.

One silver lining from the catastrophic events in Beijing was the performance of the Three Gorges Dam, which this week began using the final 32 of its hydroelectric generators making it the world’s biggest power plant of this type. The dam appears to have come through the flood peak unscathed and protected areas in the lower Yangtze river from further damage. The plant can now provide the equivalent output of 15 nuclear reactors to the increasingly energy-hungry nation. What isn’t known is whether massive amounts of trash, which clogged the dam after last year’s rains will return to cause further problems.

NBC News: 3 Gorges Dam

22
Jun
12

Calling All Patrons of Past Pineapple Produce Plantations

Next time you have some extra cash lying around, why not use it to buy a tropical island?  98% of Lanai, the sixth largest island in the Hawaiian chain, was just sold to the sixth richest man on Earth.

Lanai, HI

How does this affect you?  Well, if you happened to be aiming for Hawaiian island ownership sometime in the next few years, let’s just say that it will take more than a few pineapples to barter a deal.  Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison, reportedly forked over roughly half a million big ones to long-time owner and head of Dole Food Company, David Murdock.

Lanai is home to a couple of five-star Four Seasons resorts, amongst other residential and commercial infrastructure, but hold on – it gets more interesting.

Lanai’s Decimated Pineapple Fields

Here’s a breakdown of the island’s geography:

* The land area totals ~141 square miles
* Roughly 3,000 people call Lanai “home”
* At one point in time, 75% of the world’s pineapples were grown on the island
* There is one school: Lanai High and Elementary School
* There are two golf courses; both were designed by professional golfers
* There are NO traffic lights
* 400 of its ~430 miles of roads are unpaved
* Many of the island’s most spectacular spots can only be seen by four-wheel drive

Struggling with tourism, it is speculated that Ellison may provide economic stimulation to draw in more people to Lanai.  Or, maybe he’ll just keep it for himself.  That’s what being a billionaire is all about, right?

Garden of the Gods, Lanai, HI

05
Jun
12

no one’s snoring in dull or boring

Location related news flash:

The tension is building in the closely related, soon (hopefully) to be sister towns of Dull, Scotland, and Boring, Oregon, according to reports from the BBC and MSNBC, as well as numerous other media organizations on what must be a slow news day.

This is a picture of the Boring/Oregon City si...

The scheme, to make them ‘sister towns’ is the brainchild of Perthshire resident Elizabeth Leighton, who traveled through Boring on a cycling vacation and on seeing the name immediately called her friend, a Dull resident. Dull is a small village in Perthshire, not too far from Edinburgh, Scotland, while in mediocre contrast Boring is home, just outside Portland, to 12000 residents in what, unsurprisingly, is an unincorporated area. If that comparison wasn’t startlingly black and white enough for you, Dull’s main commercial activity is tourism, while Boring is considerably more industrial.

Although it is widely reported that Boring was named after settler William H Boring, and Dull from the Gaelic word for ‘meadow’, we are behind the alternative explanation that boring is so called due to a distinct lack of excitement there since the arrival of a straightlaced settler called Bill. Meanwhile Dull earned its name after more than 1000 years of overcast weather predating the Domesday book  (both entirely fictional of course).

A decision out of Oregon is expected to be delivered without pomp or ceremony by Wednesday morning, GMT. It is believed to have been tabled as part of the agenda of the Boring Community Planning Organisation, who’s constitution prohibits ‘extraordinary general meetings,’ we imagine.

 

STOP PRESS: (Well 24 hours later) Officials in Boring DID in fact vote yes to the relationship. Celebrations ensue in Dull and Boring locations. 

 

Dull, Perthshire, Scotland in a rare moment of excitement: Google Maps.

Boring, OR: Enthusiasm couldn’t be higher. Google Maps.

24
May
12

5 ways to travel the united states and end up 100 miles (or less) from where you started

This article by Eric Wilder from our Local, National and International Travel Desk.

Have you ever scored tickets to the big game in the city over the weekend and been stuck without a car? Ever wanted to fly back home for the weekend to visit the ‘rents, rather than battle through traffic or miss the train? Ever needed to hop on a quick flight upstate to help your brother move out?

Winged Wonder

Someday I’ll fly away.

Sometimes, catching that 1-hour nonstop flight is no problem. Other times, you may want to bring your collection of USA Lonely Planet Travel Guides to kill time with some joy reading.

We researched 5 ways you can fly to a final destination that is less than 100 miles away and end up seeing much, much more of the country than you bargained for. How did we do it?

We picked a hypothetical travel day at random and went search-happy on various air travel booking websites to find some of the more absurd connections you could make on your next flight!

Live in Manhattan and need to catch a business meeting at your company’s satellite office in Hartford, CT, but don’t own a car and can’t use public transportation to get there? If you need to fly, you could book a flight that departs from NYC, touches down in Orlando and Atlanta, and finally, makes its way over to Hartford.

What if there are no nonstop flights to your destination? Take this one, for example: if you live in Ontario, CA and need to fly into LAX, you could get a flight that has layovers in Dallas and Chicago, en route to your Los Angeles destination. Sure, the Ontario and LAX airports may only be 57.1 miles apart in driving distance, but anything is fair game in air travel.

Trying to get from Daytona Beach to Orlando, FL? If time is a concern, we recommend that you avoid booking the flight with the layover in Atlanta, followed by the layover in Washington, DC, followed by the layover in Detroit. That’s a whopping 14 hour, 45 minute flight itinerary when all is said and done.

“Hurry, only 200 left at this price”.

Madison to Milwaukee, WI? Hope you enjoy Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and Denver International Airport. San Jose to San Francisco, CA? Better plan to pick up lunch in Salt Lake City and take a cat nap in San Diego.

Which of our routes gets you traveling the greatest distance, you ask? The Ontario to Los Angeles itinerary comes in victorious, traversing nearly 4,000 miles of American air. Being that we all enjoy a good map, we of course had to plot these routes. Below is a map that displays the simple straight-line distance of each of these ludicrous flight paths, for your cartographic viewing pleasure. More bang for your buck? More airline miles? More crying babies? Maybe, but one thing is for sure – if you are a crazy cartography geek and travel lover, there is no better way to fly the United States and end 100 miles from where you started.

Eric contributes regularly to Maps.com’s social media output. If you have suggestions, comments or ideas for new articles, or you have some of your own  ridiculous travel itineraries, let us know in the comments. Eric will have plenty of time to read them during his daily commute,  from Santa Barbara to Goleta, by cruise liner, stopping  at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, en route.

Crazy air routes from a to b

Get quickly from A to B. Via F, D, R, S and Y.




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