Digital Mapping Techologies
Basil G. Savitsky
DIGITAL mapping technologies include computer-assisted mapping tools such as GIS, satellite image-processing software, and Global Positioning System (GPS) field collection devices. Each of these three technologies is covered individually in chapters 4, 5, and 6. This chapter contrasts digital mapping technologies with traditional cartography and addresses issues that are common to all three tools, particularly in the implementation of these technologies for conservation mapping in tropical developing countries.
Cartography is the “art, science and technology of making maps, together with their study as scientific documents and works of art” (Robinson, Sale, and Morris. 1978:3). A comparison of digital cartography with traditional cartography reveals the benefits available through computer mapping. A case will be made that digital cartography is faster, more efficient, and more powerful and versatile than analog cartography. This comparison will be discussed regarding data sources, process, and products.
Traditional, manual, or analog cartography is typically dependent upon data sources such as previously published maps, aerial photography, or some form of annotated geographic data, such as field notes or surveyed sample points (Star and Estes 1990). These data sources are expensive as well as voluminous, so they tend to be stored in specific isolated locations. The isolation of the data reduces