The Interactive World Map Opens Up A World Of Possibilities
It is only in the last 20 or 30 years that detailed world maps have become available to a wide number of people, mainly due to the advent of better aerial mapping technology, which enables highly detailed aerial photography to be produced, and the collection of aerial mapping data which in turn enables highly-accurate maps to be drawn up.
But over the past 10 years or so the growth in internet technology has opened up many new possibilities, including online aerial maps [both in low- and high-resolution], which show in great detail both large-scale and small-scale images of a particular area, along with interactive world maps. These not only allow viewing of satellite images showing buildings, roads, railways, and other physical aspects of the built environment, along with natural phenomena such as coastlines and the topographic terrain, but also can be linked to in a database that can enable you to find wide-ranging information about a certain place, including population statistics, demographics, climate, and even political makeup of a particular country. High definition interactive maps really have revolutionized the way we view the world.
The interactive atlas itself is nothing new, but until fairly recently this was really only available in book form: the traditional study atlas. However with the explosion in computer technology, particularly internet mapping technology, a world atlas is now available in digital form, and these digital atlases can provide a wealth of information that would be almost impossible to provide in the traditional book format.
These new generation of computer-based interactive maps use satellite images and aerial photography to provide a view of the world that until now would have been almost impossible. They also use 3-D modeling to produce highly-detailed maps that not only show natural phenomena, but also show man-made structures, which can be viewed from various angles to give a whole picture of the way things actually look. In effect, it is like having a whole library of maps in your home, along with satellite images and aerial photography to issue a full picture of the geography of a particular area.
High resolution mapping
But it is when the map moves beyond simple geography and begins to supply other forms of data that it really shows what an amazing piece of technology interactive maps can be. Not only will they show the location of towns and cities and the surrounding landscape, but can also show political boundaries, and the voting patterns [sephology] of a particular area, something which can be absolutely essential for researching for student papers and other educational pieces.
With an interactive map it is also possible to view maps at different resolutions and scales, making it possible to look at a large-scale roadmap [used, for instance, when planning a road journey over long distances], but then switch to a small-scale map for planning a journey in a local area. Just one package worth looking at could be the TOPO! interactive map state series from National Geographic. Costing about $70.00, this is route-planning software for both rural and urban areas, and provides trail details for hiking, biking, and backpacking. It is GPS-compatible mapping software, including the ability to add a 3-D rendition, which can be printed out.
With the power of an interactive map at your fingertips, there is no need to rely on paper-based maps, or having several volumes of data using up space on bookshelves. Everything can be stored on a computer, and even accessed online, via a handheld PDA for instance or a smartphone. To find the computerized map that is right for you, think about the level of map detail and data that you need.
This can be anything from the simplest low cost digital map atlas to one that supplies topographical maps, elevation maps and data, political information, and even maps of geology, soils, and national census information. Then check out some of the many packages now available. It can change you world, and give you everything you need to view the world from your home.
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