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Paper maps, which provide users with an allocentric view of their surroundings, are often difficult to use, because they are static and inflexible. The inflexibility of paper maps creates three key problems: (1) users have to cognitively place themselves into map space, (2) the user cannot change the thematic information displayed on a map, and (3) users cannot change the granularity or zoom level of the map without creating a new map. Digital maps and GISs have alleviated some of these problems. In a GIS the depicted space is more malleable, the user can pan and zoom over the map. Some of the problems associated with a paper map still exist in the GIS environment. For example, users who want to find information about their local environment still need to cognitively place themselves into the map space. A problem of GISs beyond those associated with paper maps is that GISs are used in desktop computing environments, where interaction with the computing device is the user’s primary task. Users in the field, such as tourists or tax assessors, are mainly interested in finding information about their surroundings. A direct interaction with their surroundings means that interacting with the mapping system becomes a secondary focus. This makes standard GIS manipulation in the field complicated and inefficient, since a user in the field has a different focus than a user at a desk. Finding an innovative solution to this problem lead to research on intelligent mobile GISs, finally resulting in this paper.
Reprinted with Permission from Intelligent Spatial Technologies, Inc.
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