What does a Cartographer do?
Cartographers spend most of their time using computers while working in offices. They typically do fieldwork to collect and verify data used in creating maps. They also:
- Collect and analyze geographic data, such as population density, demographic characteristics, and annual precipitation patterns
- Examine and compile data from ground surveys, reports, aerial photographs, and satellite images to prepare thematic maps
- Prepare thematic maps in digital or graphic form for social, environmental, political, business, educational, and design purposes
- Revise existing maps and charts to make corrections, adjustments, and updates.
Cartographers use information from geodetic surveys and remote sensing systems, including aerial cameras, satellites, and technologies such as light-imaging detection and ranging (LIDAR). LIDAR uses lasers attached to planes and other equipment to digitally map the topography of the Earth. LIDAR is often more accurate than traditional surveying methods and also can be used to collect other forms of data, such as the location and density of forest canopies. Data from LIDAR are used to provide spatial information to specialists in water resource engineering, geology, seismology, forestry, construction, and other fields.
A cartographic professional who creates maps using geographic information system (GIS) technology is known as a geographic information specialist. A GIS is typically used to assemble, integrate, analyze, and display spatial information in a digital format. Maps created with GIS technology link spatial graphic features with non-graphic information. These maps are useful for providing support for decisions involving environmental studies, geology, engineering, land-use planning, and business marketing.
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