Thursday, May 17, 2007

Maps Are the Faces of Destinations

There's nothing more symbolic of a travel destination than a map. I remember when US troops parachuted onto the island of Grenada, all they had were "tourist maps."

Now, thanks to The Map Network, DMOs or destination marketing organizations like DCVB, are partnering to transform the idea of maps from those old tourism maps and then the map search engines that first launched on the Web now to truly interactive databases.

In Durham's case, DCVB created its new interactive maps from the official City and County GIS maps, so they are useful for far more than tourism. They can be reached via Durham's official website for visitors and newcomers or via TMN's catalogue of 90 different destinations, including 3 now in North Carolina.

The new maps can be updated in real time via the same databases DCVB uses to update the website overall. Initially there are three maps, one region-wide from Burlington to Smithfield and Roxboro almost to Pinehurst. Another zooms in on Durham in detail. The third zooms in on Duke, Downtown, Ninth St. and NCCU.

Users can tag sites, creating their own map, populate or un-populate with various points of interest, right click and grab and move the map with a cursor… go down to as much detail as exists or go out to the big picture.

TMN is owned by Navteq, the company providing the map backbone to navigation systems, so by the end of the year, these far more accurate maps will also have point-to-point directions.

Maps like those used for the drop onto Grenada in the '80s look about as ancient now as the cartography done hundreds of years ago.

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