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Vol. 38, No. 3 308
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About the Author: E. Lynn Usery is a Research
Physical Scientist and Director of the USGS
Center of Excellence for Geospatial Information
Science (CEGIS). In addition to his own research
into semantics and ontology for geospatial data,
Dr. Usery directs the research program for The
National Map through CEGIS.
309 Cartography and Geographic Information Science
pplications for the use and production
of maps have evolved signiﬁcantly in the
past decades, especially in the transition
of static paper maps to digital on-line maps.
This is especially evident when evaluating the
requirements for digital map production and its
subsequent digital map use. In 2007, the Chief
Technology Ofﬁcer at Intergraph Corporation
predicted “a shift over the next ﬁve to ten years
from the current paradigm of on-line dynamic
mapping and other location-based information
to a signiﬁcant growth in real-time operational
geospatial applications” (Batty 2007). This
paradigm shift continues and can be illustrated
by the expanded functional capabilities provided
within internet mapping sites. The functional
capabilities available on older web sites were
generally restricted to basic map visualization
and map navigation tasks. On newer web sites,
the introduction of analytical capabilities is
providing the end-user the ability to query the
data, allowing them to ask the appropriate
questions for their application, and thus
providing them the ability to make real-time
The increasing availability of GPS, on-board
navigation systems, and consumer internet
mapping sites (Google Maps, Bing Maps)
is changing people’s perception of maps
and increasing their expectations of digital
Traditional map producers such as government
agencies and private mapping companies are
beginning to provide a new generation of
cartographic products based on the needs of
Transitions in Digital Map Production:
An Industry Perspective
Jon Thies and Vince Smith
Cartography and Geographic Information Science, Vol. 38, No. 3, 2011, pp. 310-312
their customers. The map user wants more
options to meet their speciﬁc needs, and they
want it in real time to assist them in their decision
making, which is especially relevant in military,
public safety, and natural disaster situations. To
some extent, a portion of the map production
responsibility is being passed on from the
traditional map producer to the on-line map user.
Software vendors supporting the GIS industry
recognize these trends and are responding by
developing applications that leverage traditional
map production capabilities to compliment and
assist in the geospatial decision making process.
These trends are also impacting the traditional
map producer, expanding their role from map
producer to digital data provider. For the map
user to access data in real-time, the map producer
must expand their product offerings to include
raw geospatial data, instead of simply offering
a ﬁnished cartographic product. This transition
involves data sharing between the map producer
and the map user, and will require all parties
(map user, map producer, software vendor) to
- Data standards
- Seamless enterprise databases
- Data modeling
Data sharing and system interoperability
requires the adoption of industry standards,
many of which have been deﬁned by assorted
international bodies such as the Open Geospatial
Consortium (OGC) and the International
Organization for Standardization (ISO). In some
cases these standards have a legislative mandate,
as is the case with the Infrastructure for Spatial
Information in Europe (INSPIRE). Adopting
Jon Thies, Vince Smith, Intergraph Corporation, Huntsville,
Alabama, 35813, USA, E-mail: <email@example.com>, <vince.
311 Cartography and Geographic Information Science
these standards provides a common framework
for data exchange between the requesting map
user and the map producer providing the data.
Map producers recognized the importance of
adopting industry standards when they began
providing digital ﬁles to their printer instead of
ﬁlms. Producing standard ﬁle formats such as
Tag Image File Format for Image Technology
) and the Prepress Digital Exchange
using PDF (PDF/X
) relieved much of their
data exchange issues. Data exchange for map
composition over the web needs to consider the
dynamic aspect of requesting and delivering data
in real-time. This has spawned an assortment of
standards such as Web Coverage Service (WCS
Web Feature Service (WFS
), Web Map Service
) and their associated data ﬁle formats
such as Geography Markup Language (GML
and Keyhole Markup Language (KML
Seamless Enterprise Databases
During the initial transition from paper to digital
maps, it was logical for map producers to store
their data in separate physical databases based
on their printing requirements. While this data
storage model may have served the purpose of
supporting traditional lithographic workﬂows, it
often introduced data redundancy and imposed
unnecessary limitations on the data. The map
producer’s long-term goal was to be able to
produce multiple products from a single database,
which requires a more uniﬁed data storage model.
This prompted many map producers to combine
the separate physical databases into a seamless
enterprise database that could be used as the
basis for constructing multiple cartographic
products independent of traditional sheet limits,
e.g. geographic quadrangles or regional extents.
A seamless database is even more important
today as map producers begin sharing their data
via the web and provides additional ﬂexibility for
the end-user when selecting their particular area
of interest. This also facilitates the storage of a
multi-representation database (MRDB) where
different views of the data can be provided based
on map scale ranges.
The type of map content made available
for data sharing is determined in part by the
business focus of the map producer providing
the data, e.g. cadastral or transportation. Larger
organizations may maintain and distribute
multiple representations of the same data to
support the production of cartographic products
at different map scales. Data transformations of
a large scale representation may include model
generalization, cartographic generalization, or
complete schema remodeling in order to produce
a corresponding small scale representation. Any
data modeling/remodeling employed by the
map producer to facilitate data sharing must
include data validation for geometry, topology,
features, and attributes to ensure that the
data provided conforms to acceptable levels
of accuracy, completeness, and currency. In
addition to providing the raw geospatial data,
the map producer must also provide geospatial
metadata to assist map users determine whether
or not the requested data is suitable for their
application. For example, the metadata may
include information describing the date, scale,
and method used for the initial data collection.
Technological advancements supporting the
storage, delivery, and presentation of geospatial
data continue to have a signiﬁcant impact on
digital map production. These advancements
directly correlate to the sophistication of
the available on-line cartographic products
found in the market today. Irrespective of
these advancements, the end user must have
conﬁdence in the digital content provided to
them by the map producer / data provider to
1Tag Image File Format for Image Technology (TIFF/IT) is ISO 12639.
Prepress Digital Exchange using PDF (PDF/X) is ISO 15930 and includes multiple PDF/X standards.
Web Coverage Service (WCS) Implementation Standard is OGC 07-067r5.
4OpenGIS Web Feature Service (WFS) Implementation Speciﬁcation is OGC 04-094.
5OpenGIS Web Map Service (WMS) Implementation Speciﬁcation is OGC 06-042.
6OpenGIS Geography Markup Language (GML) Encoding Standard is OGC and ISO 19136.
OGC KML Encoding Standard is OGC 07-147r2.
Vol. 38, No. 3 312
ensure acceptable levels of quality and accuracy.
This conﬁdence is critical in the geospatial
decision making process.
Batty, P. 2007. Cartography 2007: Reﬂection,
Status, and Prediction (Preface). Cartography
and Geographic Information Science 34(2)
Leitner, M. and A. Skupin. 2007. Cartography
2007: Reﬂection, Status, and Prediction (Preface).
A collection of submissions to the 2007
U.S. National Report to the International
Cartographic Association. Online: http://www.
About the Authors: Jon Thies is employed by
Intergraph, a Hexagon owned company. He
performs functional design activities associated
with the GeoMedia Desktop and Cartography
Vince Smith is a member of the U.S. National
Committee to the International Cartographic
Association and is also a member of CaGIS. He
is employed by Intergraph, a Hexagon owned
company, where he is the product manager
for the GeoMedia Desktop and Cartography
ISO 12639:2004. Graphic technology – Prepress digital data exchange – Tag image ﬁle format for
image technology (TIFF/IT), from http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_catalogue/catalogue_tc/catalogue_detail.
ISO 15930-6:2003. Graphic technology – Prepress digital data exchange using PDF – Part 6: Complete
exchange of printing data suitable for colour-managed workﬂows using PDF 1.4 (PDF/X-3), from
OGC 07-067r5. Web Coverage Service (WCS) Implementation Standard, from http://www.opengeospatial.
OGC 04-094. OpenGIS Web Feature Service (WFS) Implementation Speciﬁcation, from http://www.
OGC 06-042. OpenGIS Web Map Service (WMS) Implementation Speciﬁcation, from http://www.
OGC 07-036. OpenGIS Geography Markup Language (GML) Encoding Standard, from http://www.
ISO 19136:2007. Geographic Information – Geography Markup Language (GML), from http://www.
OGC 07-147r2. OGC KML Encoding Standard, from http://www.opengeospatial.org/standards/kml.
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