New layers of information

New technologies create new layers within the urban environment; layers of information that can be overlaid on a cartographic representation of the city. These new layers of dynamic intelligent information can spur us to rethink our current modes of cartographic representations like static maps, and move on to more meaningful and informative representations of the city. We can imagine a ‘digital skin’ layered over tarmac and concrete. Maps of emotions and memories are inextricably linked to the map they overlay, in the same way behaviour relates to its environment. Traditional maps favour showing the street over the route, the static over the temporal and the formal over the subjective.

• Alternative approaches for mapping the city and alternative mapping strategies.

• We can begin to use database driven maps to understand place within a system of relations determined by their relevance to our queries, rather than their geographic location.

• Distinction between story maps and grid maps as an analytical framework.

• Mapping both vernacular knowledge and fiction; Collaborative Mapping; Online mapping services.

• New forms of spatial expressions.

Freire, a marine biologist, draws an analogy between the ocean teeming with life and the city that grows & evolves constantly. He terms this active layer of life common to both as a “skin”, and in the case of the city, he calls it a “Digital Skin”. The large majority of the Digital Skin is based upon the 20th century conventional base map which is an expression of a singular notion of urban space (Sant, 2006), one that favours the street over the route, the static over the temporal, and the formal over the subjective.

Currently, one of the important devices that collects data and transforms it into digital maps is the mobile phone. The Digital Skin (Jagdish, Re-Mapping the City) can be comprised of many different layers, each one having different temporal properties and entities that it represents. Each layer is the result of collaborative annotation of spaces done by citizens using mobile devices, or by other dedicated mapping efforts which result in artefacts. Technologies being developed and tested include so-called Personal Guidance Systems (PGS) that incorporate detailed spatial databases, GPSs, and inertial compasses, combined into a unit worn or carried by the traveller (Montello & Sas, 2006); video recording; or recording of the subject’s verbal descriptions (Lahav & Mioduser, 2000). More and more pieces of data are now tagged with geographic references – such as geographic coordinates, addresses, and place names – and more and more often these data are accessible through maps (Caquard, 2013).

Several questions to be addressed: How do these new layers of information influence travel behaviour? How do these new layers of information influence the mental maps of different social and age groups? Will it reinforce social exclusion or improve social inclusion?

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  • Montello, Daniel R., and Corina Sas. “Human factors of wayfinding in navigation.” (2006): 2003-2008.
  • Lahav, O., & Mioduser, D. (2000, September). Multisensory virtual environment for supporting blind persons’ acquisition of spatial cognitive mapping, orientation, and mobility skills. In Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Disability, Virtual Reality and Associated Technologies, ICDVRAT 2000 (pp. 53-58).
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  • Sant, A. (2006). Trace: Mapping the emerging urban landscape. Leonardo Electronic Almanac, 14(3).

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