Why are digital maps necessary?
There are many types of digital maps, from map diagrams which are simply for looking at, to complex map databases which can be used for route-planning and navigation. The stock of digital maps is the foundation for every application that helps users to find their way, to search geographically, to find out information about a locality, or to reach their destination.
Why are digital vector maps easier to navigate with than printed paper maps?
Digital vector maps are all capable of being moved around to change the view, and magnified or reduced in size, to show the user just the right amount of information that is needed. This makes them easier to handle than traditional paper maps.
So does this mean that if we set off on an unfamiliar route equipped with a digital map, the passengers don't need to follow the road and navigate for the driver?
We can rely entirely on the digital map. Other advantages are the ability to search for an address or other destination and to plan routes, and, together with the navigation function, to receive continuous directions while traveling, optimizing the route towards the destination using information collected about the current position.
Who uses these digital maps at the moment?
Top-Map mainly provides its stock of maps for navigation purposes. The maps are used in such popular applications as the iGO software developed by Nav N Go, or the NaviGuide program used in Garmin devices. Another successful area is the internet website utvonalterv.hu, which offers practical help to drivers and cyclists, as well as people using public transport in Budapest. If we take all the different applications together, we can say with confidence that hundreds of thousands of people are already navigating with the help of maps produced by Top-Map.
How is data collected for the different maps?
Data is collected using several methods. One of these involves a specially-equipped survey vehicle, which is driven systematically throughout a given road network, and which records every relevant piece of information which is missing or incorrect in the database. Another useful procedure is the Camera-based Data-collection System, built around a video camera which records all the information that needs to be processed.
We also gather data from many other sources; for example, we are constantly increasing the number of contacts we have with local organizations, councils and tourist offices, with the aim of helping each other with our common interests, because an accurate and data-rich map of an area can have a positive effect on tourism, industry and commerce.
Besides this, an extremely valuable source of information comes from our end users, who send reports to our Map Editor webpage (http://map.topmap.hu) which we evaluate and process.
Does this mean that if I notice something on a particular stretch of road that doesn't match with what I can see on the map, then I can also become a map editor?
That's exactly right. All you have to do is register with the Map Editor service on our website, and write down the change(s) you would like to report in the form provided. Tens of thousands of corrections have already been made to the database thanks to people like you.
How can end users keep track of the changes they have reported?
End users can easily check the status of changes that have been reported to the Map Editor site. Reports in blue are waiting to be processed, while grey ones have already been corrected, which means that the map data will appear correctly in the next map update. Green reports are highlighted reports, which means that the person working on the map didn't fully understand something in the report. In this case, we are waiting for further instructions from the end user.
What are the stages of map-making?
Every database goes from the stage of data collection, through consistency and quality checks, to providing our partners with the information in the right format. We crossed over the borders of Hungary a while ago now, and we are carrying out checks and improvements on quite a few maps in other countries, and also working as advisors to colleagues abroad.
How many people are needed for all this work?
There are about twenty experienced professionals working on the tasks mentioned, including GIS specialists, cartographers, database engineers and programmers.
How long does it take to complete, for example, the map of a city?
Map-making is a never-ending story. You can never say that a map is absolutely complete. In the case of a large city, it might be necessary to start again from scratch every two or three years, because so many changes have taken place in the traffic system and in building work.
How often are maps updated?
Updates appear at least twice a year for individual countries. Issuing new maps always depends on the demands of our partners.
How detailed is each map? Apart from the road network, what other information does it give?
Basic information includes administrative data about the names of the streets, house numbers and postal codes (ZIP codes). Traffic information includes, for example, one-way streets, turning regulations, traffic restrictions and the type of road (motorway, roundabout, etc.). Additional information might include speed limits, lane information and road signs.
The appearance of the map, as well as ease of navigation, may be enhanced with information about the surroundings, including the railway network and waterways such as rivers and lakes.
Finally, we mustn't forget the POI (Points of Interest) database, which contains supplementary information about all kinds of destinations, from fuel and service stations to hospitals, hotels and theatres, in fact every interesting point on the map where you might want to go!