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Careers in Cartography > Common statements and myths

Introduction :: Definitions :: Statements :: Disciplines :: Key skills :: Education :: View of Cartographers


"Hasn't the World already been mapped?"
The simple answer to this is no. Although much of the world is mapped to a certain degree, many areas are not represented at useable scales or the mapping may be significantly out of date. Contrary to popular belief many regions are still not represented by maps

"So you work for the Ordnance Survey?"
Opportunities are available at the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain, but cartographers are also employed at other National Mapping Agencies and Government related mapping organisations, for example, Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland, The Ministry of Defence, The Hydrographic Office, as well as mapping agencies in other countries.
Most cartographers however are employed by commercial companies, a number of which are members of the BCS, and are listed in the Corporate Members Directory.

"So do you just reproduce old maps?"
In many cases there is little point in re-surveying an area to be mapped, if the existing mapping is up-to-date, at the scale you require and contains all of the information at the scale required, and is affordable. In such cases it would not be cost effective to initiate a new survey. In other instances it is necessary to undertake some new survey of an area in order to produce a new map. There may be changes to the road system, or new housing developments. The amount of new information depends on the area to be mapped and the form of mapping to be produced, for example tourist town plans or maps showing the use of the land in a region.

You are still however not simply reproducing old maps. You would take the required information from a variety of sources in-order to 'compile' your new map with reference, amongst others, to the client or market that you are generating the map for.

"Maps are so boring"!
Anything that takes this amazing, varied and vast world around us and transforms it into a usable format that enables us not only to travel and explore, but to study and hopefully understand our environment and its development, cannot be boring!

Maps are used in every avenue of our lives, from planning a new ski run, walking in the countryside, going on holiday and playing computer games, to answering emergency call-outs, building an extension, studying geology, identifying political trends, social development and the demise of the Siberian Tiger.

We have a concept of maps as being boring, flat paper products used by ramblers and for the planning of car journeys. In reality maps are used in virtually every subject or job in some form or another, and in recent years this has increased dramatically with the development of geographical information systems, which enable the manipulation and analysis of data in reference to a spatial, geographical framework.
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