Jump to content

 
Photo

Developing Maps for GPS units

- - - - -

  • Please log in to reply
4 replies to this topic

#1
tom harrison

tom harrison

    Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPip
  • 26 posts
  • Location:San Rafael CA
  • United States

I get a lot of requests for my maps in a format that can be uploaded to GPS units, especially by Search and Rescue teams. I would appreciate any advice or experience you folks have in this area. I have a feeling this is not a trivial task by any means. Can I convert my maps in-house, should I outsource the job, or is this one of those areas where the development costs outweigh the market potential unless there is a fairly large pool of customers? Thanks.

#2
Hans van der Maarel

Hans van der Maarel

    CartoTalk Editor-in-Chief

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,884 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Netherlands
  • Interests:Cartography, GIS, history, popular science, music.
  • Netherlands

I get a lot of requests for my maps in a format that can be uploaded to GPS units, especially by Search and Rescue teams. I would appreciate any advice or experience you folks have in this area. I have a feeling this is not a trivial task by any means. Can I convert my maps in-house, should I outsource the job, or is this one of those areas where the development costs outweigh the market potential unless there is a fairly large pool of customers? Thanks.


Are there specific GPS units / file formats mentioned?
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
Email: hans@redgeographics.com / Twitter: @redgeographics

#3
Sky Schemer

Sky Schemer

    Master Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 119 posts
  • Location:Hillsboro, OR
  • United States

As Hans points out, the brand of GPS receiver will impact what you can do here.

In the world of consumer GPS units:

The uncompressed (non-NT) Garmin map format is very well understood, and there are tools for creating maps that work on them. The most popular (and to my knowledge, the most complete) is cGPSmapper, though be expected to pay about $260 USD for the privilege of creating "commercial" maps, meaning ones that you can legally sell. For $360 USD, you can get it bundled with Global Mapper. Making the maps is a bit less trivial than acquiring the tools, however, as the Garmin map format is highly optimized for rendering performance and a small memory footprint. You have the most flexibility with Garmin, though, as it is relatively easy to create maps that function like any other "official" Garmin map.

The Magellan map format is kinda-sorta understood, in that Magellan makes software that can build maps for Magellan units. The hard part is getting the right version of the software, and then modifying the resulting data file to work on the Magellan units. Alas, there is far less integration between these custom maps and the base Magellan software.

I'm not aware of software for creating maps on TomTom.

In the commercial GPS space, you can build maps for Magellan with MobileMapper Office (this is how it's done for consumer units, too, only it's a series of hacks not a supported procedure) and other software, but the costs involved are fairly high.

To be honest, the best bet here is to encourage the use of something like a PocketPC or Palm device where the user has control over the GPS software, and can choose something that allows the use of well-known map formats. A good example might be OziExplorer CE which runs on the PocketPC platform, interfaces with any NEMA-standard GPS receiver, and can display a maps from a wide variety of formats.

#4
Neil Allen

Neil Allen

    Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPip
  • 33 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Medford, Oregon
  • United States

To answer your question directly Tom, yes you should be able to convert your maps in house. Exporting an EPS from FreeHand and then ripping it in Photoshop to produce an image format will be your best bet. We've done this for the Forest Service many times after creating their inch = mile maps. Typically we provided the rasterized image and they have their own GIS support to massage the data into a hand-held unit. The Fire & Rescue people used them greatly and were much appreciative.

As I am sure you are aware, my main concern would be keeping your stuff exclusive since it's a commericial product hitting a governmental world. Many federalies aren't typically used to the daily dealings of copyright issues.

As far as market potential goes, my feeling is that you have to be a big enough public player to make it worth your time since the distribution channels are so different. As you are a "big player" in California, it may be worth your time to try selling a few digital titles, but where are you going to find your buyers? Your website offers the most upfront distribution, but where do go from there? You could promote your digital titles from your printed ones (on map or your map racks), but that takes time and what if it doesn't work? Tom, I know your skepticism is as honed as mine and I just don't see this being a big seller for you unless you jump in all at once which is obviously risky at best and definitely a distraction from your new printed publications. Please tell me if I'm assuming too much here or if I'm starting the year off too pessimistic.

#5
tom harrison

tom harrison

    Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPip
  • 26 posts
  • Location:San Rafael CA
  • United States

Thanks for all the advice folks. I don't think the market is large enough for me to do this seriously, but I was just wondering if the effort involved far outweighs the return that would be generated from having a GPS-compatible map series. My experience is in printed mapping but I don't want to close the door on digital formats either. I have an agreement with my local Search and Rescue unit that they will not distribute my quads outside their local unit in any format. Plus the SAR quads are a one-off item with special linework that the general public really shouldn't see (lots of "unofficial" trails and roads). It also looks like there is not a single standard for GPS maps-both Magellan and Garmin have different formats so I'm looking at probably too much work for too little return.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

-->