Map making has always been a human endeavor. Even in our earliest times, we have attempted to make sense of the world around us, to categorize and give form to the various landmarks which surrounded us. We needed to mark the best hunting grounds, locate the ripest fruits, and be able to communicate that to the others in our clan. To do this, we told stories and painted images on cave walls.
As time went on, our sophistication with understanding grew, and we developed more complex tools to map our world. Stonehenge and similar prehistoric sites across the globe are testaments to our growing fascination with giving form to the behavior of the sun and stars. As we continued to grow, we incorporated this understanding to define the cardinal directions, and star constellations provided a map in the sky for explorers. No matter the tool, human beings have always sought to give form to what they do not understand.
The First Maps: The Manifestation of Power
When we first began drawing maps and recording accurate representations of the features on the earth’s surface. This was more than just a simple step forward, it represented a huge improvement, and a manifestation of power. Those who could make maps to capture the locations of things could also ensure that once they found them, they could locate them again. One of the best illustrations of this idea can be seen in the maps of the explorers, creating precise (even if, by today’s standards, their accuracy left something to be desired) maps as they went along their journey. These maps not only described the new lands, but also made it possible to communicate with others how to find their way back.
Digitized Maps: The Democratization of the Map
The next major step happened when we began digitizing maps. This not only allowed us to have a more easily editable map format, but it also allowed us to attach an infinite amount of attribute data to objects on the map. Each parcel in the map was no longer just a polygon, but it had attributive data that stored the owner, the tax amount, the zoning, the impermeable surface area, and a variety of other data specific to that polygon. By creating digital versions of the paper maps, we made it possible to share the data with many more people. With the advent of the internet and web geoportals, we opened that information up to thousands of new users, allowing all of them to work from one common source.
Another big step, three-dimensional maps. This allows for us to navigate and visualize geographic data in a 3D format, now giving even greater precision to our digital maps. 3D maps provide a more realistic view of the way our world actually is. Now, you can see every tree, light post, fire hydrant, power line, and more, showing a greater level of detail in our maps. This 3D feature opened up a huge window of opportunity by providing more of a complete picture to organizations involved in asset management all over the world, allowing for more-informed decision making when it comes to security, transportation, and public safety.
The Next Step in Map Making: The Hexagon Smart M.App
Now, it’s time to take another step forward to find the map of the future. We are ready for a map that can keep up with our changing world as quickly as it changes. A map that is dynamic. A map that not only shows what was and what is, but can also help us to predict what can be. A map that can be customized to fit the needs of the user. A map that can help to solve real world problems. The map of the future is the Hexagon Smart M.App.
The Hexagon Smart M.App is a smart application that addresses a specific business question by providing a dynamic online Information Service. By providing a link to continually updated content, it allows you to transcend the map—which is a vehicle for communicating data—and instead provide a service, or a stream of frequently updated information. Because it targets specific business workflows using 360° analytics, it can be tailored to answer a small subset of business-focused questions. It focuses on the importance of effective communication providing specific answers to help solve real world issues.
The Hexagon Smart M.App provides a new form for communicating geographic information. As we enter this next stage of map making, we are ready for whatever change may come our way.