GIS Thoughts

The end of maps !!

The BBC report that the rise of satnav spells the end of the map as an in-car navigation tool. I think there is some truth in this, although I still carry a half million scale map in case of system failure in my satnav equipped car.

A point which the article could have made more of is the complete reliance on the system, when as a user, to get used to having a calm voice telling you where to go next. What happens when “she” and it usally is “she” is not there anymore ? – blind panic.. cars stopping with lost drivers not knowing our to unfold their maps 🙂

Still its great to see geograhic information becoming more and more mainstream.

Written and submitted from the garden just before a thunderstorm, using my home 802.11 network

2 replies on “The end of maps !!”

Just thought that I would report that as a Tokyo resident involved in web mapping I completely mistook your title to mean something different. Part of the reason is that over here in Japan we call it “GPS” rather than satnav. Pretty much everybody has one in their car. I think that most new cars (even inexpensive ones) come equipped one these days. My point is that I thought you meant the end of 2D vector maps. Over here in Japan you can buy satnavs with satellite image data on board (these things are harddisk based). So instead of “maps” you are looking at sat pictures in 3D. I do have some experience in this area as my company just released JetStream-3D. You can see a preview at

The reliance on in car nav is fine but it is paramount that the data is up-to-date. For instance unless a new address is put into the data fairly quickly, the system is no longer going to work the way you have become to rely on i.e. 100% instructions. The system will then only be able to get you close to your destination and of course this assumes that you know a destination close by, since you do not carry a map! The last part of your journey then becomes difficult, relying on asking for directions, which can be hit or miss as people generally take sometime in becoming familiar with new names in their neighbourhood.

If you are travelling some distance, in to unfamiliar territory and the unthinkable happens, system failure. The old analogue printed map comes to the fore and saves the day, but of course you do not need those anymore do you!

And finally, a whole new generation will be spawned of people who have no knowledge of how to read maps because they have relied on being told how to get where they want to go. A balance should be struck between the two.

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