5 Facts to Understand How Automated Mapping Works

Automated mapping is a computerized process through which land, bodies of water, man-made structures and so forth are assessed as data, which can then be stored in a database. Since the process is programmed, it can recur with great precision and consistency and at a high rate. Some applications need renewal of the map in a matter of seconds while others days or just months. Perhaps the most well-known use of automated mapping is AM/FM/GIS, which is used by many public utilities in the United States to manage their networks over great distances.

1. Automated Mapping Systems Tend to Be Satellite-Based

It’s important to point out that satellites aren’t the only means of achieving automated mapping. In fact, laser-based approaches are becoming quite sophisticated and used in a wide array of scenarios over satellites. Nevertheless, satellite-based mapping is still the most prevalent, and it remains unclear if lasers will overtake that or if perhaps there will be a blending of the approaches.

2. Most Maps Generated Aren’t for Navigational Purposes

The maps we used to navigate by land and see really haven’t changed much in many decades. What’s driving the innovation of this technology isn’t navigation but other information we can glean. Consider in the above New York Times article how some are using automated mapping to track poverty, damage to rain forests, energy usage and so forth.

3. Both Graphical and Non-Graphical Data Are Often Processed

The important aspect of mapping is the survey and not the map itself. The map can change. Think of the map as a lens through which we view the data collected. Therefore, automated mapped is often just as much about processing non-graphical data as graphical data.

4. Many Mapping Processes Require Propriety Software

Although the fundamentals of automated mapping are often shared across applications, the particulars often differ and in many cases substantially. The organization mapping the ocean has much different needs than the engineering firm planning a track for a new high-speed train. Therefore, the software used is often highly proprietary. In some cases, an organization will contract a developer to develop a tool specifically for them, and in other cases, they’ll hire a service to do the work, and those services tend to create a proprietary module, which dictates how the system performs.

5. Automate Mapping Has Boosted Efficiency in Numerous Industries

In the opener, we mentioned AM/FM/GIS, which is used by electric companies, for instance, to create maps of their networks. Those maps can then be used to plan expansion, track emergency repairs, schedule maintenance and so on. Imaging how difficult this task was without the on-demand high-level view the companies now have. It really has transformed the way they work and how efficiently.