Map Scale And Accuracy

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Maps and directions are always needed by individuals who find themselves in a different place than the one they are normally familiar with. This means that maps are necessary if people are to avoid getting lost and get to their point of destination in the most efficient way possible. Maps have been around for quite a few centuries and even though they have greatly developed throughout the years and mainly thanks to technology, one should still know one or two basic things about how maps came into being. It is true that traditional road maps or street maps are nowadays rarely used since the emergence of the GPS systems and interactive maps or even the 3D maps, but it is important to know how maps work and how they can be useful.

Map scale is a very important concept in cartography. As one may imagine, maps cannot be drawn in a way that reflects reality unless they are scaled, meaning that they will reflect the reality only at a smaller scale. The map scale is commonly expressed as a ratio like 1:100,000, which means that 1 unit of measurement on the map equals 100,000 units on the ground. The scale of the maps can be smaller or larger, depending on the objective. Large scale maps such as 1:10,000 are usually used to cover very small areas in a region and they have the advantage of providing great detail about that specific area. Motorists would for instance need smaller scale maps such as 1:250,000 or even 1:1,000,000.

The accuracy of a map is very important if it is to be of great use to the person who needs it. Most cartography specialists work very hard on trying to provide the highest degree of accuracy, but some maps such as the cartograms are deliberately distorted as they are not intended to show information on the land area or the specific distance from a point to another.