Humans have been utilising maps for centuries, drawing what we know of the world and constantly striving to fill it in with more and more detail. Maps are one of the key tools we have when it comes to understand the world around us, locating valuable information, and generally finding our way around. Now, digital maps are really coming into their own, providing more detail than ever before, increasing accuracy and revolutionising the way we see the world.
For example, these digitised maps provide us with a huge range of options that we can very often tailor to our needs. Modern technology means that we are now able to look at different aspects of our maps to find what we need without being distracted by everything else that is included there. As an example, some maps highlight venues – such as restaurants and landmarks – that might be of interest to tourists in a city, while others might have a focus on green spaces for people to find.
This ability to choose which aspects to focus on is arguably one of the main ways in which digital maps have changed how we view the world: they allow us to look past all the data that we deem to be irrelevant to us and focus only on what is relevant to our interests. On a practical level, this makes maps much more useful and easier to understand for the general consumer.
Digital maps also have a huge range of uses for the professional viewer. For example, there are different types of maps that focus on aspects of topography, such as details to do with how likely a particular area is to flood or what particular pieces of land are currently used for. This can be hugely useful for professions such as planning and architecture, where there is a need to understand the local environment before proceeding with a plan – and understanding the local environment requires more detail than just the layout of the streets.
We are now also able to create 3D models from digital maps, as well as offer information on areas of the world most people will never get to go to. On one level, this is very good for consumers who want to research a holiday destination, for example, or who want to see what particular areas of the world look like to get a feel for them. On another level, this is useful for professionals in need of high quality references and information relevant to their work.
This means that digitised maps have revolutionised how we see the world for both professionals and ordinary consumers alike. We are now able to access more map-based data than ever before, see it more clearly and go into more detail than we were able to do even just a few short years ago. Even simple tools such as the ability to zoom into areas of maps have changed our view of the world, enabling us to see both the detail and the wider context of an area.
As map technology progresses, we can expect digital maps to continue changing the way we see our world.