Monday, August 13, 2007

Online Mapping Technology

Ever find your self lost or wondering where is it?

With the continual rise in popularity of the internet (52.5 million users nationally) maps and aerial photos have made their way online- giving users a more interactive and detailed way of finding their route from A to B.

An example of one of these sites is an online digital map and aerial photo database which offers maps and photos for locations all over Australia with the options of finding precise directions and locations.

Homepage producer Elizabeth Leong spoke to the senior product manager of Belinda Lang about the website and about what options are available online compared to traditional street directories.

Belinda explained the process of capturing aerial and satellite images of capital cities:
Aerial photos are taken with in a low flying plane with a digital camera. It allows users to view an actual picture of a specific area – with 15cm being equivalent to 1 pixel on screen, so objects can be zoomed in and be seen in specific detail instead of just seeing a map.

There are 2 key things a person can do on the site: they can search for a map or they can search for specific directions giving turn by turn directions, or directions can be provided for walking on foot with directions on pathways.

One of the advantages of using maps online is the convenience of not having to flick from page to page like with a normal street directory. This is because the option of panning is available, where a mouse can be used to slide the map across the screen to see what’s in the surrounding area.

To cover a larger area, online maps have the option of zooming out and panning across; or the user can zoom in to see specific roads and details in the area. They also have the option of searching what facilities are available in certain areas; for example: police stations or camping sites, which can be useful for various purposes.

There are two general options when searching for directions: the fastest time or the shortest distance. The fastest time gets the user to the destination quicker as there is the likelihood of travelling along freeways or highways. But shortest distance is shortest distance by kilometres which involves travelling through side streets but may not be the fastest due to lower speed zones.

There is a wide variety of mapping services available online many differing to accommodate specific search categories. offers geoscience maps of Australia (topographic maps, geology maps, mineral maps and satellite images), offers satellite imagery, maps, terrain and 3D buildings, allowing you to explore locations in 3D views. offers physical maps and political maps as well as key facts and statistics around the world. offers information and maps of rail networks all over Australia. shows the location of more than 14,000 public and private public toilet facilities across Australia.

Homepage is produced in the studios of 2MCE, Bathurst for the Community Radio Network and is supported financially by the Community Broadcasting Foundation. You can hear homepage on the 2MCE streaming service each Monday at 3pm EST via

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