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Sunday, 11 August 2013

Part 4: IMIA Conference

GeographX's masterpiece in rendering the terrain of Fiordland, New Zealand

Other Aspects

Map Design & Issues

This post cover other aspects of the conference. First of is the presentation by Owner of the GeographX, the lead 3D visualization of terrain company in New Zealand. They were previously contracted for rendering the hillshading aspect of the maps of Earth Platinum (world's largest atlas). This presenter presented on topic 'Making Maps for people can't read Maps'. He said there are three groups of people who find challenging to read the maps. First is young people of today. With expansion of usage of satnav tools on their mobile phones, current generation is losing their skills in navigation. On top of that, the modern geography syllabus has less emphasis of map reading skills. All of these will in turn reduce the ability to read and understand maps. Second would be blind people (since maps involve sight, this is going to be challenging). The solution is tactile maps, which emphasize the usage of sense of touch. Third group would be the difference of gender. Men use the grey matter of their brain and because of that, they use logics to resolve map navigation issues. Women, on other hand, use white matter of the brain and this results women using landmarks to guide their navigation skills.

 Shifting from this topic, he focused on interpreting the mountainous terrain. Since New Zealand is famous of its terrain, his company focuses in producing masterpieces of 3D visualization on a 2D map. He mentioned three ways to view the terrain from above. One is Central Perspective. Imagine the eye is viewing the mountains from easterly point of view (above). The issue is there would be variation of scale across the whole map (scale is too big for ones close to the eyes and vice versa). On top of that, features could be hidden and there would be map tiling issues. The second option would be Planar Oblique. Imagine a plane (flat glass) on top of the surface. It works well with smooth, undulating terrain. However, it would not work on super mountainous terrain. Third Option is Ortho Oblique. It is revolutionized by GeographX and it minimizes all scale distortions and other issues pertaining to visualising mountains on a 2D maps. He also did demonstration of fly-through of section of New Zealand (using their visualisation technique and Digital Elevation Model provided by NZ government). A lot of effort was placed to determine the colours of the land classification.

Presenter on ArcGIS Online Design Issue
Another presentation was on Re-Designing the Next Generation of Multi-Scale World Topographic Maps. ESRI ArcGIS Online (some are free, some are commercialized) is an online GIS Tools and you can choose multiple base maps (i.e. World Topographic Map) to work on your maps.
Some Basic Facts:
  • Released in July 2009 and the initial design was based on United States Geological Survey (USGS) topographic map styling
  • By 2010, ESRI redesigned the map styling to accomodate the internationalization of the users and contributors of the base map.
  • In 2011, ESRI redesigned it again the map using global styling.
  • The prime content of the map is 2D description of shape of land and man-made surfaces
  • Target audience: All levels of GIS and map users
In the process of designing and redesigning the map style, 10 key objectives needs to be fulfilled:
  1. Function as a base map and a reference map
  2. Maintaining look and feel of topographic map
  3. Unique styling to distinct itself from Google, Apple map styling (etc.)
  4. A combination of existing designs and respecting other incorporated designs
  5. Functional & simple map to be used by ESRI ArcGIS Online users.
  6. Limit the design changes on large-scale maps to avoid disruption to majority of users
  7. Easy maintenance and management by ESRI
  8. High detail level at each zoom or scale level
  9. Equal value of content to the user at each scale
  10. Design must look Great!
Challenges in designing them:\
  1. Thorough research of existing map collections across the world to understand the global styling and symbolization of maps
  2. Pre-conceived notions of GIS analysts and map-makers who have their mentality largely based on paper maps. This means they would like to maximise the details in a map for all level of the map.
  3. Making some compromises on some topographic symbol standards. For example, changing road colour and replacing route shield with plain route number (to reduce cluttering)


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