Maps Give Me What I Need

By Casey McLaughlin

I put too much information on maps.  When I create a map, I want as much as I can get.  I have seen several maps of London associated with the 2012 Olympics and there is no shortage of stunning visuals of the Olympic locations.  Mapping, for me, is always interesting and this year’s Olympics provide several great examples of different maps.  Microsoft Bing recently highlighted expanded UK transit directions and their new images of the London Olympic Stadium, The London Olympics Map by MylondonMap.com repackages Google Maps but flipping over a tab on their website, I found they have a dedicated transportation map, the London Tube Map, which depicts tube lines around Olympic Venues.   Maps with imagery are great because they combine real visuals of the area.  Flipping the imagery on or viewing the street map versions of the popular platforms makes traveling so much easier!  Seeing great imagery helps users become comfortable with a place before visiting.  For me, it provides an arm-chair traveler a visual glimpse of what these fantastic places really look like.  The bloggers at Google Earth Blog detail capture the ways one may use Google Earth to explorer London through maps, aerial images, StreetView and 3d models.

None of these views, however, helps me figure out where I want to go as easily as the fun London’s Olympic Venues by Londontown.com.

Amusement park based maps are a fantastic way of highlighting important features.  The mapmaker directs viewers by emphasizing attractions by size, color, activity.  Relative relationships between features define the map navigation; much like when my father gave me directions: “Turn left at the yellow billboard after you pass the old gas station.”  The Londontown map doesn’t burden me with extraneous locations.   I only get what I need for moving around at the Olympics.

No map can contain all the information I want – well, it can contain it, but seeing it all at once becomes chaotic.   The lesson I am learning is: keep it simple.

Treasure map from stock.xchng

Treasure map from stock.xchng

Casey McLaughlin is a first generation Geospatial Enthusiast who has worked with EPA since 2003 as a contractor and now is the Regional GIS Lead. He currently holds the rank of #1 GISer in the EPA Region 7′s Environmental Services Division.

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