Cartographic generalisation

Essay by twisteeUniversity, Master'sA-, May 2004

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"Cartographic generalisation means the variety of modifications that can, and must, be made as a result of the reduction of the same time increasing the effectiveness of the information communicated." (Robinson et al., 1978)

The power of a GIS comes from the ability to relate different information in a spatial context and to reach a conclusion about this relationship. Most of the information available about our world contains a location reference, placing that information at some point on the globe - it its therefore very important to communicate the correct message to the map user.

This paper reviews the history, present and future thoughts on generalisation in cartography and modeling, exploring this important process.

Arguments for or against Generalisation.

The modern GIS systems ability to zoom, pan , turn layers of interest on and off has brought about the thought with some users that generalisation is an artifact left over from the days of manual map production.

This is a point that can be strongly argued against though as this review will endevour to explain.

Many data storage and cartographic institutes have in the past attemted to create standardized map scale paper production of the real world. These have been relatively expensive to produce, store, and update and have had questionable outcomes with regard to accuracy and more explicitly to this article the intended use. Take for example the New Zealand 1:50,000 or 1:25,000 series maps, these maps were created essentially for civil emergency , yet they are distributed as anything from road to tourist maps based on the same data. The focus of these maps however is not on these graphic or geographic objects, they contain large quantities of information that is useless to the layman.

In order to counter this the idea of multiple scales for map...