A critical evaluation of the effectiveness of Google Maps: Its application to The Gazetteer for Scotland
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Google Maps is the most popular tool for web-mapping on the internet. It has been largely responsible for popularising the use of maps for a wide range of purposes on the web. This essay shall critically analyse the effectiveness of Google Maps as a tool for the presentation and manipulation of a source of spatial data, the Gazetteer for Scotland website. It’s benefits are the relative simplicity of its API programming interface, and the flexibility it affords for creating interactive options and a range of functionality. It provides a visual and user-friendly portal to other information on the site, as well as powering a tool to update the accuracy of co-ordinates within the database. However there are also limitations which must be considered, in particular the inferiority of its mapping and satellite imagery in terms of quality and quantity in comparison to rival sites and established mapping institutions such as the Ordnance Survey. The restrictions of loading speeds and the solutions which attempt to combat this will also be discussed. The project shows that whilst Google Maps provides a template for the delivery of a map service, a great deal of cartographic reasoning and design method must be inputted before a suitable product is created.