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Thursday, 27 November 2014

My Biggest Map : My Biggest Challenge

"It is always a dream of a cartographer to see his or her finished product. Roots are bitter but fruits are SWEET!"
After long hiatus, I am back at my blog (before I take a long break once more). Some of the readers may wonder why I have disappeared. I have been busy in finalizing Map of Venezuela (2014).

First of all, let's do a recap on this project. Back in August 2013, I wrote a post on early stages of the Map (refer to Creating an A1 Size Map of Venezuela). The idea of this mammoth project was conceived in April 2013 and intense research was done to source out the geospatial datasets. Officially, the project started at 1st June 2013 and scheduled to complete on December 2013.

Guess what, the project was finally completed on 21st November 2014. If you read at my old post (link above), the final product is different to the proposed outcome of June 2013. In this post, we will learn the complexities involved in this project:

  • SIZE:
    • The chosen size was A1
    • Positive: Capture the size of the country, able to retain more descriptive information of the country. A user would be able to stare and appreciate the map and the country
    • Negative: Difficult to find a tubular casing that fit A1 for delivery purposes, printing cost, final product - Adobe Illustrator file was +100 MB- which slowed down the computer performance
    • Given the magnitude of the project size, it was impossible to complete the project in 6 months and this resulted in delays
    • It was toughest and contested issue that I yet to resolve
    • Multiple datasets came with multiple projections. The nominated common projection for the whole project was Mercator (Sphere). 
    • Looking back, I should have spend two weeks in getting proper answers on projection and trialing them out.
    • Spend intense two weeks (14 hours total) to find out, document and compile the datasets. The aim of the project was to use free datasets for the entire map. 
    • However, due to copyright restrictions and other obstacles, this Map is NOT FOR SALE. I operate at loss every time I print
    • As the project progressed deeper, quite number of datasets were removed and not used to reduce complexity 
    • There  was mistake I made when I was cleaning up the datasets. When it came to the rivers, I did not populate all the names of the river on ArcGIS. Rather, they were populated on Illustrator file. There is no direct means of transfer of information from AI file to GIS.
    • Terrain Dataset: I could have chose better resolution to make pixelation on printing less evident
    • I am referring to the attributes, When I come to my maps, my Signature Strength is the level of research behind it. Though the map was initially geared for myself (to adore it myself), since September, I have made intention to give the map away to a Venezuelan.
    • This meant the standard in the map must be high and the content must be reflective of Venezuelan Situation. Hence, I made sure the name of the rivers, cities, states and other data that has description have correct spelling and not outdated. Cross checking with official maps was a must.
    • One of the aims of the project is to minimize sourcing out copyrighted data. This is to prevent copyright damages leveled on me. Wherever there is a map that is in public domain, I use it as my main source of information
    • Road Hierarchies; The official maps of Venezuela has different way to interpret the road hierarchy - the material that makes up the road. I used multiple references to make my personal judgement in determining which was highway and dirt track.
    • The whole map is in Spanish. I should have spend time to contact Spanish person to check the Spanish content in the map. Hopefully, it is understandable. 
    • This was challenge that I did not consider until the day of drafts and final product came to fruit.
    • As mentioned in the size category, the printing cost was something I need to factor in. Assuming I make no profit, I would sell this map for AUD22 for printing and AUD35 for lamination.
    • I contacted various printers to get the best quotes
    • When the first main product I appeared, I want to be laminated. However, one thing I realized laminated products were super hard to be rolled in tubular casing.
    • The person who would be receiving the map would see purely printed map without lamination. I would be keeping the laminated one and will producing an English version.
    • Original Scope was 6 months
    • However, two months into the project, I signed up for NGO GIS works which interrupted 3 months of project time in 2013 and 2 months in 2014.
    • The bigger the project, the momentum I initially held would decelerate quickly
    • However, once I confirmed my trip to Venezuela in August 2014, I accelerated the mapping project to full completion
    • One thing I learn in mapping is you have to CUT IT in correcting mistakes. You can fix them permanently and you never get your map done.
    • Total time scope of the project: 11-12 months
I have big SENSE of Achievement in realizing my dream. Though not perfect, it is huge relief to see the project completed and I can adore it anytime in my life.

Thank you for all your support to helping me through realizing my Dream!

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