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Map Database Management

Map database management, as a discipline, has come to use owing to the growth of automotive navigation system. To start with the obvious, it performs navigation functions such as finding a route to a destination, determining the vehicle's location and providing information about nearby landmarks. From location-based services to advanced Driver Assistance Systems, the role of map database management is increasingly expanding.

The importance of map database management system stems from the need for an on-board map database that provides information describing the road network. A map database represents a road network along with associated features. Map providers choose features (basic elements like nodes, links and area) and attributes (location coordinates, addresses, speed range, etc.) as a basis to formulate a database. One of the major challenges the system faces is in terms of updating the database.

When it comes to navigational functions, a vehicle needs to have an up-to-date map database, which calls for incremental update. Since it is impractical to replace an existing database with a new version, it is desirable to update only specific information in the existing database. A European consortium, ActMAP, is in process of developing "standardised mechanisms" to update existing map database content. It is also exploring how to "enable dynamic attachment of information" to the in-vehicle map.

Map Terminologies

For those who find it difficult to make sense out of various jargons that frequent the study of cartography and maps, here is a brief rundown on some of the common terminologies:
  1. Topography:

    Various types of natural features found in an area are collectively termed as topography. These would include the natural features, as well as the man-made ones.

  2. Contour lines:

    These are lines that connect places of same elevation on a map. Contour lines are used to illustrate topography on a map.

  3. Elevation:

    This is the vertical distance of a point when measured from the sea-level.

  4. Scale:

    It refers to the relationship between distance on a map and the corresponding distance on the ground. This is the factor by which an area is reduced in order to be represented on the map. For example, a map that uses scale of 1:100000, 1cm on the map is equal to 1km on the ground.

  5. Relief:

    It is a physical representation of the terrain (elevation and geography) of an area on a map.

  6. Projection:

    It is the process of representing the earth on a flat surface.

  7. Coordinates:

    These are the sets of numbers on a map used to find the distance from a specific place or origin.

  8. Grid Reference:

    It defines a location on maps with the help of X and Y coordinates on a particular grid.

  9. Central Meridian:

    It is a line that runs north and south at the center of a map. All the points along the Central Meridian have the same longitude.

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Last Updated : June 12, 2015

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