Smart cartography mapped out for Intergeo

May 3, 2017  - By

“Smart cartography” is the top theme at the 65th Cartography Conference, which will take place Sept. 26-28 in conjunction with Intergeo in Berlin, Germany. Numerous examples at the conference and trade fair will reveal smart cartography’s wealth of potential.

The latest smart maps are as far removed from their 2D relatives on paper as is the state-of-the-art GIS platform from the analog planning basics of bygone years. But just what is so smart about these cutting-edge maps? Here’s a handful of examples of smart cartography.

  1. Smart maps are intuitive and attractive

Maps have always been used to represent relationships and make sense of our surroundings. More often than not, they achieve this far better these days than ever before. Maps have become more accessible to their target groups and more intuitively understandable. You rarely need instructions on how to read a map nowadays. A prime example of innovative design is the widely discussed and highly praised new plan of Berlin’s public transport network. Architect Jug Cerovic uses his own special standard to translate complex public transport systems into both functional and aesthetically appealing maps. (

  1. Smart maps provide customized information

Smart maps provide customized information right where it is needed. This might be the optimum route for mountain bikers or hobby cyclists ( or for navigating stress-free through the city using whichever mode of transport you like ( While in the past, maps flattened reality into 2D, nowadays 3D is the norm. Not only that, but the fourth dimension of time is becoming increasingly prominent in digital maps. (

  1. Smart maps capture the moment right now

Today’s smart maps are a dynamic product. They don’t lead to dead-ends, but instead simply keep on evolving. In the Internet of Things, where vehicles, mobile objects and sensor data gather and network millions of items of information, companies are working on creating living maps that constantly display real-time status. These form the basis for the self-driving vehicles of the future, on the streets and in the air close overhead. (

  1. Smart maps reveal new insights

Whether you’re interested in commuter flows or refugee accommodation (, smart maps are the number-one tool for planners and are now being used by politicians and citizens alike as the basis for political debate. The ability to explore visual representations turns raw data into a practical basis for making decisions. In Hamburg, for example, smart maps have become a game-changer in the search for locations for refugee accommodation and also help plot the most suitable corridors for projected commuter flows.

  1. Multi-sensory maps
Click on a street to see how it sounds, at

Click on a street to see how it sounds, at

Acoustic maps have been able for some time to visually represent “soundscapes” or add sound with the aid of audio files ( What’s new is the addition of olfactory elements. Researchers at Goodcitylife are working on capturing the “smellscape” of cities. And their Happymaps offer a completely new slant on the city – for those who are not as much bothered about getting from A to B as “enjoying the ride”. (

  1. Virtual and augmented reality

No one can fail to have noticed the craze whipped up by the AR application Pokémon Go ( This plainly revealed the potential that lies in virtually embellished maps. VR and AR map applications now liven up tours of museums and churches ( and are being used as planning and information tools.



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About the Author: Alan Cameron

Alan Cameron is the former editor-at-large of GPS World magazine.