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The eMapSite.com claims to be UK’s first online digital mapping service, established in 1992. This site provides the opportunity to fulfill your desire to roam and zoom around the world according to the nature and area of interest. Users can select maps such as town plans and street maps by zooming onto a particular place. The homepage provides a single point of access for all maps. This site uses Image Web Server to deliver interactive maps to the desktop over the Internet. It provides users the facility to browse, access, view, print, download or link via URL to digital mapping online.

The map contents can be browsed by Region, data Provider or by map Type. Region is an ever-expanding database of regional units starting from macro-level (continent) to micro-level (administrative units such as UK County). Provider draws on the resources of the extensive list of map providers. The site delivers all raster (similar to a map backdrop) mapping from these providers. Type signifies the diversity of the map resource provided by the site i.e. from conventional topographic maps and aerial photography to more obscure or less commonly used map resources such as RADAR and LIDAR. Arrays of ‘value added’ map products created by merging maps provided by different map providers are available. All three routes can be accessed through an attractively presented “rolodex” or letter wheel encompassing a map of the world. For the purpose of reaching a particular place of interest Find a Map can be used as a Browsing interface rather than a tool to reach a specific map for a specific location. When a letter is selected from the letter wheel e.g. I for INDIA (region), A for aerial photography (type), the range of choices for that letter is revealed in a rollover box.

While viewing the maps of a particular area of interest Select Map Controls provides menu like Geolinking i.e. to view the regional map simultaneously. Navigator or reference map allows different areas of interest within the selected map to be visualised. The Scale allows the viewing of the scale of the map anytime. Extent gives the current co-ordinates of the area shown on the map. This facilitates buying of the maps by adjusting the extent. These facilities are available for selected cites only. From this it can be assumed that the site plans to provide these facilities for all the countries in near future. Currently the site is providing 624 Gigabyte street map data for UK alone which is claimed to be the largest single image viewable on the internet.

Comprehensive ‘search’ facility is available to the user to enter UK postcode, Placename (town, city, village or street name) to access relevant map(s) of choice (e.g. display map showing nearest facilities or outlets). For the rest of the world ‘search’ facility-using Placename can be used. The site plans to incorporate ‘search’ capability for countries across Europe and North America.

The site plans to encompass Thematic maps for soils and land use maps from location specific analysis of demographic and other data sets. It provides geographically referenced products that are useful to planners and GIS facility users. The site is also useful to measure the distance between the desired places within a particular country. The site also plans to include histories, profiles, commentaries, and diagrams in the coming months about the countries of the world. The constant updating of the site with new maps from all over the world needs to be included for the dynamic world. The basic drawbacks of the maps are that they are represented in a very large scale so visualising a particular place of interest becomes very difficult. Moreover the maps are not accompanied by proper legend so it is very difficult to decipher the various connotations used in the maps.

E-mail delivery is available for user-defined map image selected from the list for Type or Provider list of the map data available. ‘Buy Online’ and ‘Quote Online’ allows the buying of the selected map in various versions like digital map data, paper maps and hard copy, CD-ROM and DVD, GIS and application software, etc.

Overall, this is an informative site which may be useful for a variety of business sectors like agriculture and rural development, civil engineering, local government, telecommunition, travel and tourism, etc.

Sucharita Mookherjee