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Real time mapping and local information on the Web June 24, 2010

Posted by bogdanovits in Uncategorized.

By Ildiko Eniko BOGDANOVITS, 2007
Ph.D. student
Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary

Real time mapping is rather new concept in cartography. The paper based analog maps permitted very limited transmission of temporal information, and information on paper-based maps were always related to certain moments in the past.
The necessity of the development of real time mapping correlates to the progress of the digital cartography.
The earlier analog ways of map construction are now obsolete and are used to show the great evolution in such a short time of a young but important new scientific discipline. Cartography was for a long period considered as a complementary tool of other sciences, such as geography. The birth of digital cartography led us to notice and serve new customer’s needs that can be no more satisfied by traditional map production.
Digital cartography led to new ways of map making and gave to cartographers more freedom in expressing and showing the world in maps.
In a thought, I would say, that the map specialist and common users of present digital cartographic products thinks of totally different things when they speak about correct maps. The GIS concept led to a new view of cartography, which is hardly understandable for common people, but very appropriate and useful for cartographers. Now it is the time for cartographers to produce from GIS usable environments for map users.
The spreading of digital technologies lends a new dimension to digital cartography. Meantime, the overestimated expectations regarding the new cartographical products became unrealistic, and, at the same time, there is a need for different ways of survey and data acquisition, the presentation of information and the view of the world. This is how the quick change of the world is starting to force digital technologies to solve the problems of the information and change in time.
The analog or paper maps would not allow cartographers to represent time as change on a static image. On printed maps the representation of changes or processes was, and still is, difficult problem, which can be solved by graphical tools, for example indicating movement by arrow systems.
The question is how do we understand the concept real time map?
In my opinion, real time map is the representation of scaled geospatial information in real time- related, structural model.
So, the main difference, which is going to define real time map from other maps, is the time factor. In an ideal situation, the goal of real time maps is the representation of changes in the real geo-space on a map at a certain moment.
This means, for example, that the construction of a road would result in the representation of the same road immediately, or at the same time on the digital map with no time differences.
The present technological environment makes me to believe that this kind of real time in mapping is going to remain theoretical in the near future. We are going to deal with some time intervals between the “birth“ of the information and its representation on any kind of digital product.
The diagram below shows the process of the display of the information on a map.
In the technological context of our days this means that the time interval between the appearance of the information and representation of it in any ways is always measurable.
When a cartographer is talking about real time, one should think of the ontology of real time in cartographical representations. A part of my work is the definition of the meaning of real time in cartography. This is going to be the next step during my research work. In this paper, although this definition is far from being complete, under “real time” I understand the shortest interval of time which makes it possible to display the information on a map. Provided there is a special time period, meaning real time in cartography, I should reconsider the building of real time maps. Because real timing is supposed to be a short time interval approaching zero, I still think, that the construction of that kind of real time maps, where the representation of all objects is in real time, is not possible under the present technological possibilities.
I tried to find a field in cartographical representations, where real time expectances could be satisfied. I found, the best way of creating a real time map is to build a real time thematic content. I think in the near future, when we are going to talk about real time maps, cartographers mean that they are building real time thematic maps.
A preliminary research on the Web shows that there are lots of thematic real time maps, already in use. For example, some of the new navigation systems are using thematic, real time data to prevent the user from getting into traffic jams. Other applications are helping the user to follow trains on the Web, in this way saving waiting time at the station (example: there is such a train-following system in Dublin, Ireland).  The real time thematic can be used in many ways, from monitoring forest fires to navigational systems and weather forecasting and modeling.
How is this going to affect the applications on the web and the need of the common user is a question of future research. But real time mapping on the Web is going to provide a lot more information than we would ever imagine. For example, we can answer questions like ‘is the store at the corner still open’? Mapping and cartography will be forced to find the themes which are going to make the life of the Web users easier.
What we see now, is the big expansion of worldwide cartographical projects, providing map and satellite images to the world. I think the real future of these applications is to be used at local level and supply information to local interest. The future is going to provide a lot more local information on the web.
We already have a lot of real time applications on the Web, and they are going to be more and more in the near future, helping people’s everyday life by providing useful information.



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