Cartographers are Recycling Too
Have you ever wondered how your GPS knows where you are, or worst of all it thinks you’re somewhere you’re not? Before the digital age where maps were only a click on your phone away the only way to navigate the complex roadways, highways and byways was through conventional paper maps. Have you ever thought of exactly how your GPS got all the mapping information it has, probably not right? Well you can thank Cartographers for paving the way to the digital world of maps, but you can also thank them as unconventional garbage men too. Cartographers do the conceptions, production, dissemination and study of maps. What they use to do strictly by surveying and then drawing out to elaborate detail on paper terrain worldwide, piece by piece until the larger picture of the world around them has now progressed into digital map-making.
Maps perform a fundamental and indispensable role as one of the underpinnings of civilization. Now more than ever it seems that humanity faces severe problems, many of them are environmental in nature, and effective mapping is crucial if solutions are to be found. Cartographer’s work is crucial in finding solutions through great data gathering and using the analytical power of remote sensing and geographic information systems. By continuing to look at previous maps and graphic renderings of certain areas and comparing them to more recent renderings, cartographers are able to find potential shifts in areas that lead to advance earthquake detection and more advance warning systems for potential disasters based on shifts over time in maps.
Not only are cartographers playing a key role in helping find solutions to growing environmental problems, they are also actively recycling old paper maps and helping to update that invaluable GPS in your phones and vehicles you use daily. Older maps are now scanned and added to a collective database section by section but those old papers with squiggly lines on them are not simply tossed out. Some maps are turned into fanciful novelties such as home décor or even functional wallets. Cartographers even reuse those older maps and graph changes to them to get a better visual of the change in terrain over time which helps eliminate the amount of paper goods thrown away. We use maps every day whether we realize it or not. Today’s cartographers are using the very latest computer hardware and graphic software to generate maps faster and with less cost than their previous methods. They help recycle generations of work, they are eliminating unnecessary paper waste through digital renderings, and they are making sure there is the most accurate information available. So the next time you decide to go on a family road trip and you plug in your destination to a GPS or mapping devise, be grateful that cartographers paved the way and are still ensuring the accuracy of your turn by turn directions.