ICA Commission activity at AAG 2013

The ICA Commissions on Map Design and Neocartography hosted a series of three paper sessions at the Association of American Geographer’s Annual Meeting in Los Angeles in April. Organised and chaired by Kenneth Field (Chair Map Design) and Andrew Turner (vice-chair Neocartography), the sessions brought together a terrific mix of cutting edge work on a wide variety of topics that cross-cut themes of map design in the digital age.

Ken (Esri) began the first session with a paper co-authored by Professor William Cartwright (RMIT) on the Use and Abuse of Harry Beck’s tube map. The focus here was squarely on design and the issues facing cartography as more and more people use a schematic tube map, inspired by Beck, as a template for their own maps. Mike Peterson (University of Nebraska at Omaha) explored the range of approaches available to digital map-makers and how the various APIs can be leveraged. Ryan Mullins (Penn State) showcased SymbolStore as a forum for creating and sharing point marker symbols. It’s a useful repository that cartographers would be well advised to check out. Aileen buckley (Esri) presented examples from her work on designing effective spatiol-temporal maps. Aileen presented a good summary of current web map examples and demonstrated some approaches to developing the techniques in ArcGIS. Closing the first session, Andrew Turner (Esri) used his experience of the hacking community to present a compelling picture of how neocartographic approaches are contributing to the response, management and recovery in crises. His examples ranged from Haiti to Sandy and allowed us to plot the way in which mapping technologies have matured in such a short space of time to provide fundamental support.

John Kostelnick (Illinois State university) picked up the mantle from Andrew for the second session as he looked specifically at design of map symbology to support crisis mapping by International humanitarian organisations. Shunfu Hu (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) then illustrated how his work operationalised some of the work that Mike Peterson had been discussion earlier. Ahmad S. Massasati (University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown) reminded us that map design isn’t the preserve of vector data by focussing on some of the issues relating to  Mosaicking and Georeferencing Old Aerial Photography. In what he claimed was his first ever presentation in English, Jong Lee did a great job explaining his research into the design and testing of animated maps.  His practical approach to creating interactive web maps picked up some of the themes outlined earlier by Aileen and tied together a number of salient points in terms of design principles. The final paper in the second session was given by Gordon Green whose work in mapping the rooftop cooling potential of New York City demonstrated that good design in a web environment was a function of getting both the science right as well as the interface.

The final session comprised three papers from young researchers. Victoria Loughlan (University of Edinburgh) carried on the theme of humanitarian mapping for UN peace operations. Gary Huffman (Penn State) presented his work on Natural Language Processing in ArcGIS to provide advanced search capabilities. John Clary (The University of Texas at Austin) mapped personal electronic communications and touched upon big data as well as information design.

Thanks to all the presenters and also to those who attended…particularly given the unfavorable slot we’d been allocated in the AAG schedule! We had a vibrant conversation that we hope will continue to emerge as map design becomes a crucial component of information communication now we’re in a web map world.