That dusty, tattered atlas on your bookshelf could soon be superseded by a living, online version that uses digital mapping technology to provide real-time views of the world.
Devised by Esri, the Living Atlas of the World concept brings together thousands of individual mapping projects uploaded by people across the world.
Esri’s Product Strategist Bern Szukalski said the idea of a Living Atlas has emerged from a recent revolution in mapping technologies.
“New, free technology that features easy-to-use templates, apps and tools is driving an international community of everyday people to create a constantly evolving, online treasure trove of interactive maps,” Mr Szukalski said.
“Some people are doing this for fun, while companies and organisations are using this as a way to collaborate and share their work.
“From casual canoe trips to up-to-date real-time maps of the world’s refugee camps and their populations – this unique technology is turning thousands of maps into an incredibly accurate Living Atlas of the World.”
Based in the U.S., Mr Szukalski has been invited to Brisbane next month to unveil the Living Atlas at the nation’s largest spatial event, Ozri 2013.
He said the atlas is constantly updated from commonly available data streams such as satellites, traffic cameras, GPS devices, weather stations and social media feeds.
“Accessible data sources are growing at an exponential rate – with traffic sensors and web cameras everywhere and satellites constantly looping around the planet ensuring hundreds of thematic layers of information are now available,” Mr Szukalski said.
“Much of that imagery and data is being collected in real-time as well.
“So, while countries will continue to change names and realign borders – making that globe on your desk suddenly out-of-date – the Living Atlas will always remain relevant.”
Ozri 2013 Technical Director Kellie Persson said the use of live crowd-sourced data was a major trend in GIS technology, as it provides organisations with a way of keeping up with a rapidly changing world.
“In the process of unlocking GIS technology for a broader audience, we are seeing a reinvention of the atlas, enabling everyone to visualise the globe around them with a level of intense detail previously unimaginable,” Ms Persson said.
“The general public are now creating and updating intelligent mapping projects in the way only skilled GIS technology professionals were able to do just five years ago.
“This is a common theme among many of the presentations and exhibits at Ozri 2013 – we are putting GIS technology into the hands of anyone with an internet connection.”
Ozri 2013 will run from 4-6 September at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. For registration details visit www.esriaustralia.com.au/ozri.