Have you ever given some thought to the data behind a reliable digital map? How Google Maps knows which route to take based on current traffic, for example.
With new technological advancements, digital maps are going beyond simply showing us which road to take to make sure we don’t miss any important appointments. They’re now being used for everything from real estate development to disaster risk management. By collecting vast amounts of data, and using AI to help them organize and analyze results, digital maps are presenting all new potential solutions to modern day problems.
For digital maps to be accurate, they rely on quality data. This data comes from multiple sources, including satellite imagery, aerial photography, street-level imagery, GPS data, the list goes on. All this data needs to be processed, checked for accuracy, and regularly updated in order for the maps to remain accurate and up-to-date.
Governments, businesses, and individuals also contribute data that improve the accuracy of digital maps. For example, local authorities may provide data on new roads and changes in street names. Businesses may provide data on their locations, operating hours, and other relevant information. Even individuals may contribute data through features like Google Maps and visitor-generated markers.
In this blog post, we’re going to outline the different ways that digital maps have helped industries make better data-driven decisions.
Understanding digital mapping technology
Digital mapping technology (also known as cartography) involves the collection and compilation of data in the form of virtual images. These images are then digitally represented on a map. There are a few components that make this all possible:
- Geographic Information System (GIS): This is one of the main technologies used in digital mapping. GIS is a tool that captures, stores, checks, integrates, manipulates, analyzes and presents data related to positions on the Earth’s surface. Essentially, it’s the backbone of digital mapping. It allows all the data to be compiled and reviewed in one system.
- Satellite Imagery: Digital mapping systems harness data from satellites orbiting the earth. The satellites take images of the earth’s surface, which are then used to create detailed maps. This technology has greatly improved the accuracy of digital maps.
- Global Positioning System: GPS is used to determine the exact location of objects or places on the earth. Digital maps use GPS data to provide accurate location information and directions.
- Lidar and Radar: These technologies use light (Lidar) and radio waves (Radar) to measure distances between objects. They can be used to create detailed and accurate 3D representations of the Earth’s surface.
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: These technologies are increasingly being used in digital mapping to analyze data, detect patterns, and make predictions. For example, AI can be used to predict traffic patterns and suggest optimal routes.
How Digital Maps are Helping Make Data-Driven Decisions
1. Optimizing Traffic Routes:
Digital maps can be used to find the most efficient routes to save time and fuel costs. This is not only useful for everyday people, but businesses too. Many logistics and delivery companies use these maps to ensure on-time deliveries and drop offs. In larger cities, this technology is almost necessary.
2. Market Analysis:
With digital maps, there is the option for overlaying demographic, psychographic, or behavioral data. Businesses can then use this information to analyze markets, and identify trends and opportunities. This puts them in a better position to make data-driven decisions on where to open new stores or who to target with specific marketing campaigns.
3. Disaster Management:
Governments and organizations can use digital maps to visualize data regarding disaster-prone areas. This can help in planning, preparation, damage assessment, and recovery efforts.
4. Urban Planning:
Digital maps help urban planners to make data-driven decisions based on a number of factors. These include population growth, traffic patterns, public transportation, and green spaces.
5. Real Estate:
Digital maps often help real estate developers in visualizing property values. They’re able to take school districts, crime rates, and other factors in specific areas into consideration. This allows both buyers and sellers to make more informed decisions.
6. Asset Management:
Companies can use digital maps to track the location and performance of their assets. For larger companies, having this vantage point can be a huge benefit. It can prove helpful in all areas, including maintenance, efficiency improvements, and cost savings.
7. Environmental Studies:
Digital maps can visualize environmental data to help in the decision-making process. When it comes to conservation, climate change mitigation, and sustainable development, this access to data can be crucial in making effective decisions.
8. Health Care:
Health organizations can use digital maps to monitor disease outbreaks and identify trends. This can be extremely helpful in the deployment of resources and preventative measures. The recent epidemic of Covid-19 was just an example of how useful this technology can be in monitoring outbreaks and preventing further spreading of the disease.
Ambulances have also been known to use these maps to find the fastest and most efficient routes to make sure they get to the person in need as quickly as possible, and then to the hospital.
Digital maps are not particularly new technology. They’ve been around for years, and are now easily accessible to anyone with a stable internet connection and smartphone.
There are different platforms for every user’s needs, such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, WP Go Maps, etc. The one you use will ultimately come down to your individual needs at the time.
While digital maps are not groundbreaking and taking the world by storm, they are becoming more and more important in our everyday lives. Maybe the fact that we’ve become so accustomed to their presence in our lives has made us take their potential for granted. Their ability to help is disaster management and EMT services are only touching the surface of how useful these maps can be.
Users are constantly finding new ways to use this technology to improve their data-based decision making. There are even studies showing the positive impact that having a map on your website has on SEO and ranking.
They’ve come a long way since the development of paper maps, and I have a feeling their future holds more than we are ready to comprehend.