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The changing face of digital mapping

David Dixon is Managing Director at Landmark Promap, a company that specialises in the supply of data and digital mapping. Here, David offers his perspective on how developments in digital mapping technology are affecting architects who rely on this information on a regular basis.

In the last decade digital mapping has moved from being a niche area navigated by experts, to become an essential and accessible tool for architects. Technology has come on leaps and bounds; fiveyears ago it would never have imagined that we could have access to the data that is available to us now.

Progression and the rate of change is so rapid - at a touch of a few buttons architects can now access digital maps and source all the associated data they need to meet their requirements. This change has stemmed in part from the introduction and integration of GIS systems with CAD-based systems.

When you ask architects what they want from digital mapping technology, its data and integration into workflow that seems to matter most. The adoption of services and their success depends on ease of use, speed and capabilities of the applications. With time and money still priorities in all organisations, how well we effectively can access and use data is becoming increasingly vital.

Promap is the market leading digital mapping data provider to property professionals and offers architects the ability to export mapping data in a variety of easily accessible formats that is extremely targeted and relevant to them.

For example 3D models are a particularly invaluable tool for architects looking to create photomontages and visualisations for public consultation, however creating these models traditionally necessitates combining data from a variety of sources and can be time-consuming. Promap provides an off-the-shelf solution with its 3D model service.

The 3D images, photogrammetrically derived from stereo images, offer real-life representations of a site or project in a digital format. Accurate to within 30cm, most UK towns and cities are available and any area in Great Britain can be obtained on request.

The ability to render the outside of buildings means that attractive and realistic projections of new developments can be created, showing buildings in their ultimate context – as in the image shown here of the South Bank and London Eye. Technical assessments such as sun and shadow or environmental studies can also be enhanced by the use of 3D Models.

The area of ‘Rights of Light’ is a good example of where 3D mapping technology specifically is becoming indispensable, as the task of working out light infringements manually is laborious, as well as costly. Occupiers have the right not to be overshadowed by neighbouring buildings provided they have enjoyed light through a window or opening for 20 years.

It is crucial that architects consider this, as neighbours can take out injunctions if they feel they are suffering. Digital mapping software allows companies to accurately identify any potential right of light issues when planning developments.

Going forward competition will continue to drive innovation, pushing mapping and data providers to raise their game. Providers will constantly produce more sophisticated and technically advanced applications and services that will enable architects to access these maps and data ever more easily and quickly.

Landmark Information Group is the UK’s leading provider of digital mapping and land data intelligence. Landmark Solutions delivers mapping and other geospatial data through Promap in addition to specialist GIS related consultancy, IT solutions and managed  /

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