Tag Archives: cartography

Kenneth Field—Mapping at the Intersection of Science and Art

Maps rich with data analysis are used as a tool in many different ways to help users make better-informed decisions. Esri’s geographic information system (GIS) technology puts information in a geographic context. The element of place is one everyone is familiar with already, but to be engaging, a map needs to go beyond its function. This is why the aesthetics of mapping are so important to Dr. Kenneth Field, Esri senior cartographic product engineer. “There are reasons why people love historical maps,” said Field. “They’re pieces of art as well as well-designed technical products. A map that is well designed, where care has been taken as to the form as much as the function, is one of the reasons why people want to look at some maps over others.”

Field spent 20 years in the United Kingdom teaching cartography and GIS. For the past six years, he has been Esri’s resident mapmaker. “Usually they’re very experimental maps, because what I’m trying to do is push the software,” said Field. “That helps us internally, because it demonstrates all we can do, and it also pushes our users to reflect on what’s possible in an entirely Esri-focused workflow.”

His work at Esri has taken Field around the world to conferences on mapping, not only to demonstrate Esri’s capabilities but also to educate others about cartography using Esri’s GIS tools. One such conference, GeoCart, in New Zealand, allowed Field the opportunity to run a workshop on map design. His two-day preconference workshop has been such a successful part of the last three GeoCart conferences that the New Zealand Cartographic Society awarded him an honorary membership, making Field only the second person to receive this honor.

Dr. Field has also recently been honored by the British Cartographic Society, which gave him its top honor for an innovative map he presented at the society’s 2016 awards. The map illustrates the diversity in British football pitches (fields), showing the pitch dimensions and geographic orientations of 92 professional football clubs in England and Wales. Overlaying the centered and scaled aerial images of the pitches produced a spirographic pattern that was educational in showing how widely the pitches varied, and the information was unique in its presentation. “Purely by chance, the data created this beautiful kaleidoscopic image,” said Field. “I think the reason people liked it is that nobody had ever seen that kind of data handled and presented in that way before.”

Kenneth Field’s Pitch Perfect was the top winner at the 2016 British Cartographic Society Awards

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Smart Mapping Workflows

Your world is full of data, and maps help you to make sense of it. There is a growing need to turn geographic data into compelling maps. All users want to create beautiful, interactive maps and infographics with live data, easily and with confidence. The smart mapping mission is to provide a new kind of strong “cartographic artificial intelligence” that enables virtually anyone to visually analyze, create, and share professional quality maps in just a few minutes, with minimal mapping knowledge or software skills.

Smart mapping is designed to give ArcGIS users the confidence and ability to quickly make maps that are visually pleasing and effective. Cartographic expertise is “baked” into ArcGIS, meaning it is part of the fundamental user experience of using ArcGIS. The map results that you see in front of you are driven by the nature of the data itself, the kind of map you want to create, and the kind of story you want to tell.

The best thematic maps apply thoughtful analysis of the underlying data to a set of map parameters designed to bring focus and clarity to the topic. Here, the author has positioned the handles controlling symbol size (running beside the histogram) to emphasize areas with household incomes over $100,000. Great maps relate the data back to the real world, using visual cues that immediately highlight the message you want to convey.

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The Art of Mapmaking

ArcGIS for Cartographers

The ArcGIS platform provides capabilities that enable everyone to make truly excellent maps, including support for highly sophisticated mapping workflows employed by professional cartographers. Desktop includes tools for rich data compilation, for importing data from a multitude of publication formats, and for integrating this data with your own data to create consistent, accurate, and beautiful cartographic products for both printed maps and online maps.

Swisstopo is the official name for the Swiss Federal Office of Topography, Switzerland’s national mapping agency. With all the mountains in Switzerland, it should be no surprise that they developed many of the classic cartographic techniques, like the Swiss Hillshade.

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The Online Mapping Revolution

Maps are important. Everyone understands and appreciates good maps. GIS people work with maps every day. Maps provide the basic experience and practical interface for the application of GIS. Maps are also the primary way that GIS users deliver their work.

Maps provide a critical context because they are both analytical and artistic. Maps carry a universal appeal and offer clarity and shape to the world. They enable you to discover and interpret patterns and share your data.

Online maps can be created by virtually anyone using Web GIS—and can be shared with virtually everyone. These maps bring GIS to life and can go with all of us everywhere on our smartphones and tablets.

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Share Your Work—Be Part of this Year’s Plenary

The Esri User Conference is coming soon and I need your help to put the finishing touches on my plenary session slides.

Each year, the plenary session provides an inspiring overview of the state of geospatial technology today. One of the best ways to illustrate that is by sharing examples of your work.

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