United Kingdom

United Kingdom

David R. Green (University of Aberdeen, UK)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-815-9.ch013
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Abstract

This chapter briefly examines the origins and evolution of electronic coastal and marine atlases, and online mapping and GIS in the United Kingdom (UK). Beginning with some early examples, such as the UK Digital Marine Atlas (UKDMAP), initially distributed on floppy disk (MS-DOS) and later CD (MS-Windows), consideration is then given to some of the first online Internet-based information systems e.g., The UK Coastal Map Creator, some of the current systems now available e.g., MAGIC, MESH, and UKSeaMap, and finally the potential of Google Earth (GE) and Google Ocean (GO) to provide a framework for the development of simple local scale coastal and marine atlases. In each case, attention is paid to the origins of the atlas, its development, the user-interface, functionality, data and information content, and the target audience. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of electronic atlases are also discussed, together with some of the problems, and possible solutions.
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From Paper To Electronic: The Context

Electronic or digital atlases are a natural evolution of the paper-based traditional paper atlas, albeit for use in a computer environment. There are many examples of electronic atlases available, some of which cover the marine and coastal environment. Electronic atlases originated at a time when computer technology (hardware and software, storage, processing, and display capabilities) had reached a stage when it was possible to design, create, and present maps and charts in an electronic or computer-based environment using computer-aided or computer-assisted cartography (CAC). While some early examples relied upon very basic black and white computer displays, the arrival of high resolution color monitors greatly enhanced the possibilities to display increasingly better quality maps on the computer screen. These took advantage of the additional dimension of color for mapping. In recent years, desktop computers (PCs) and small mobile geographic information system (GIS) hardware have evolved so rapidly that it is now possible to provide very high resolution color displays of maps and charts on the smallest of mobile platforms, including mobile phones. There are also many examples for displaying electronic chart displays on the modern yacht.

Whilst computer hardware has evolved quickly, providing the storage and memory capacity and processor speed to handle large volumes of geographical data on the desktop and mobile platform, so too has computer software. Software applications now provide the tools to design, create, and display very sophisticated map and chart displays. At the same time, software has become more user-friendly and so many more people are now empowered to create their own electronic maps, aided by software that provides the necessary cartographic, design, layout, and publishing tools. Map and graphic design software (e.g., Golden Software’s MapViewer and Adobe Illustrator) can be used to create maps and present them as dynamic examples with the aid of MS-Powerpoint-based slideshows.

The potential of the electronic atlas as a medium to access, view and share coastal and marine information, has been further enhanced with the development of the Internet and a range of website development software tools, as well as GIS and online GIS-based mapping software that has ultimately led to the development of a wide range of different web-based examples of marine and coastal atlases. A sample of these can be accessed from the International Coastal Atlas Network (ICAN) website: http://ican.science.oregonstate.edu) seeks to document best practice in the development of coastal web atlases (CWA) around the world by coordinating the sharing of international knowledge and expertise. It therefore represents a significant step in the evolution of Internet-based electronic atlases and may in turn have considerable influence on the development of data models and spatial data infrastructures (SDIs) that may underpin electronic atlases in the future.

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