'Vending machines' make custom maps
- By Natasha Haubold
- May 17, 2000
In the next few months, hikers, travelers and motorists will be able to
get detailed, customized maps from "vending machines" at U.S. Geological
Computer kiosks are being installed at USGS information offices that will
enable customers to create 3-D maps of any location in the United States.
Customers simply input coordinates, elevations, boundaries or locations,
and the computer will search the USGS database for information that meets
the specifications. The computer, using Wildflower Productions' Topo! and
TrailSmart software products, will then create a customized, detailed map.
USGS will provide the maps, elevation data and geographic names data, and
Wildflower will provide the scanning, storing and integrating of data with
its map-on-demand software.
"The vending machine concept for serving USGS maps will put these maps at
the public's fingertips," said Hedy Rossmeissl, USGS senior program adviser.
"Customizable maps are the way of the future."
Users also can search the database for new trails, campsite locations or
to visualize elevation changes. The Wildflower software makes it possible
for users to customize text, symbols or routes and to create maps that extend
across more than one USGS quadrant.
"As a hiker, knowing that I could walk into a USGS office and get the exact
map I am looking for without ending up with four different sheets would
be unbelievably valuable," said Paul Glauthier, Wildflower founder and chief
The program is in its development phase, so topographical maps for geographic
areas in high demand will be developed first, according to a USGS spokeswoman.
USGS hopes to have the kiosk systems installed in offices in Menlo Park,
Calif.; Reston, Va.; and Denver in the next few months. Printed maps will
continue to be produced and made available through the USGS World Wide Web site.