Cartography: The art of Communicating with maps

Milsat Technologies
3 min readFeb 18, 2021


Communicating with maps

Rather than write a thousand words about locations, maps have seamlessly substituted as a visual storyteller about places. Creating a map can be compared to a magazine front page. A map must be a comprehensible digest of events and features in a location.

Mapmaking is one of the oldest professions that exists in the world. The need to commute between places, acknowledge temporal changes and obtain perspectives of various locations has consistently shaped map making. With the advent of technology, maps now contain several layers of information, with some maps giving insight into finances, hazards, health, and much more important information.

Although map development is ever-changing, the most important features of a map remain its spatial reference and location geography.

“Maps are like campfires — everyone gathers around them because they allow people to understand complex issues at a glance, and find agreement about how to help the land”. Without maps, safeguarding history will be uphill, as they are effective agents of information simplification. They tell you where you have been, where you are, and where you are going-the three tenses of location.

Cartography as a communication media

To achieve efficient communication, a map has to be simple. If people wanted the complex view of things, looking at the real world would do justice. So, the question is, how do you create a simple map?

  • Identify the map aim: If you are aiming to create a map that focuses on the road network within a location, it is necessary to prioritize the objective. Map types dictate the final outlook of maps concerning the constituent information. More so, identifying the map type will help shape the choice of spatial and non-spatial data required in the map. Geospatial analysts often try to do too, thereby, obscuring the key message the map should give.
  • Filter unnecessary information: Geospatial analysts and cartographers can get carried away by the need to add several units of data on the map, negating the simple rule of map creation. As a cartographer, any individual should be able to understand your map without prior geospatial knowledge.

The Future of Map-making

In recent years, several industries have incorporated the use of maps. Satellites and digital mapping tools have turned modern cartography into a technology-driven field. As such, map-making now involves a fascinating combination of experiences, software skills, and cartography, with focus on modeling the real world through pictorial perspective and storytelling.

With more data sets having accurate spatial references becoming available, we are poised to enter an age of smarter maps that are embedded with several layers of information. The future of map-making will not just be about the spatial display in the traditional sense, but rather on-the-go cartographic visualizations that increase environmental consciousness.

Location based systems

Location-based systems and cartography

In modern cartography, the main focus is on understanding the processes and methods of how to communicate spatial information efficiently. In this respect, cartography exceeds the creation of cartographic presentations, focusing also on understanding relations within the chain of communicating spatial information, including users, models, and the transmission media.

Location-based systems are generally described as applications that extend map information to end-users via the internet or wireless networks. Cartography and map communication formed the basis for location-based technology. With further technological advancements, hanging maps on the walls will solely be for aesthetics as people will carry maps with multiple layers of spatial information on their devices and wearables.

Furthermore, since applications now exist that allow maps to be tailored to fit requirements, cartography will hand Location-based systems the platform to provide personalized services to mobile users whose locations are in change. In simple terms, LBS has given lives to map, propagating the aim of spatial communication.



Milsat Technologies

We design and develop geospatial solutions that make data acquisition and access easy for businesses and groups in Africa