The aim is to provide a quick reference source for the rapidly growing number of organisations and individuals who need to deploy computer-based mapping in their businesses, whether for internal planning and analytical purposes or for consumer applications such as navigation and location-based services.
It helps users to choose from the many different sources of mapping available; to understand what might seem puzzling detail; and to recognise the sometimes subtle differences between superficially similar map data sets.
The guide represents a brand new resource to complement MapMechanics’
Theresa Barlow, MapMechanics’
The guide takes the form of a full colour 16-page A4 illustrated publication. The nine questions address key issues that users frequently encounter when dealing with computer-based mapping – for instance, areas of coverage, map scales and projections, map features, file formats, map styling and presentation, and the legal implications of licensing agreements.
One sentence in particular is likely to resonate with those who have struggled in the past to find the mapping they need. In a section on different mapping brands, the guide says: “At first glance products may seem to be duplicates, but each data set has some unique features that make it suit some applications better than others.” It goes on to illustrate and describe some of the similarities and differences between AA, OS and Andes mapping.
The guide gives a clear explanation of the differences between vector and raster maps, describing how vector maps comprise separate objects and layers, allowing the map to be drawn clearly at any size and enabling objects to be displayed or hidden and used in analysis. Raster maps are “pictures”
It notes that smaller scales such as 1:200,000 may lack the detail of larger scales such as 1:10,000, but often make it easier to understand the bigger picture at a glance. It points out that although raster maps can’t be rescaled to the same extent as vector maps, the supplier may be able to provide raster mapping at various scales, allowing software to switch from one scale to another as the user zooms in or out.
It goes on to explain the difference between map features (types of object such as rivers or schools), attributes (information attached to objects, such as what class a road is), and unique IDs (items such as postcode sectors that occur only once).
The guide is particularly illuminating on data and file formats, revealing that the raw map data supplied by the originators often requires significant amounts of processing in order to add recognisable detail (symbols and colours, for instance). The data may also need to be specially configured for specific brands of geographic information system.
By contrast, the guide points out that specialist suppliers and resellers such as MapMechanics can take care of all these processes in advance, delivering data that is properly configured and ready to use from the outset.
The guide also reviews some of the licensing issues arising with the use of mapping. It contrasts annual and perpetual licences and notes that different licensing terms may be required according to whether the maps are used in-house or by third parties (on the web, for instance).
Nine questions to ask when buying digital map data is available free from MapMechanics. Anyone who is interested can contact the company on +44(0)20 8568 7000, or via the map data web site, www.MapMechanics.com/
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MapMechanics has been providing innovative solutions in logistics planning, sales and marketing, digital mapping and geographic analysis for over twenty years.
MapMechanics distributes a wide range of data products including AA, NAVTEQ and Ordnance Survey digital mapping, as well as leading business and demographic datasets from many sources throughout the world. This data is listed in the Data Catalogue, which is probably the most extensive and up-to-date listing of its kind in Britain, and is available at www.MapMechanics.com/
MapMechanics also uses digital map-based technologies to offer an extensive range of Web, desktop, paper and component solutions for a variety of business applications, from atlas production to business analysis, site selection, customer profiling and vehicle routing and scheduling.
Backing up its extensive product range, MapMechanics offers a comprehensive service of implementation support and training.