Mehran Hoodeh, Smart Map Digitization

What is map-digitizing?
As we all know and have seen, a map is simply a sheet of paper over which lots of features have been drawn to give the user of the map any information s/he needs to know about them.
With GIS systems today, those paper maps are no longer useful, because:

  • They are not fast enough to retrieve the information we need about a feature.
  • They are, sometimes, not accurate enough.
  • Some information are not as so we can draw it on paper, (like a movie or sound about a feature.)
  • and of many other reasons (that we are not going into their details in here.)

We are now in the first ages of GIS. Hence, having lots of paper maps inherited from the past works.

The process of giving as much vertices to an object as it can be redrawn with a fairly similar shape as the original one is called "map digitizing".

Conventional methods to digitize a map:
The very first method to digitize a map was to stick it on a Digitizer, calibrating the corners and then starting using their magnetic mouse to virtually draw the items by clicking and clicking and clicking and clicking ...

Digitizers are now almost obsolete.

In some recent methods, the first step is to scan those papers into images, and then import them into a CAD-based software so that we can draw all items on it !!!...

All methods a huge amount of work!
Who is ready to do that ?!!!...
If you have strong patience and tolerance, and of course lots of time and money, you are the one who can start it. Good Luck.

But, if you lack one of the things mentioned above, you will be looking for a better way, to bypass all those costs. 

  Mehran Hoodeh, Smart Map Digitization  

My method:
With the User Interface I have implemented in mGIS software, you will get all what you may get in conventional softwares like AutoCAD to draw the objects of the map. But, beside all those conventional things, you get one more thing that makes mGIS different from all other similar Map digitizing Tools: The Smart Object Recognition.

With what mGIS provides you while digitizing a map, you will just need to click on an object on the map and mGIS will start following (tracking) it on the map and at the same time digitizing it and adding its equivalent vector object to the selected layer.
Fun, no?
Of course, what mGIS does is to turn a lot of work into something fun.

Look at the animated sample that comes below to see how just by a click on a contour-line mGIS traces it on the map as far as it can, and when it gets stuck and cannot decide where to go, you will just need to do another click to guide it!


Using this method you will get the following advantages:

  • Fast and reliable approach to that huge work. (Averagely 8 times faster than user tracking methods.)
  • Homogenous data generation throughout the map. (The distance between points in an automated-digitized-object is set by the user, but in a user-digitized-object the points can sometimes be close and dense and sometimes be far and scattered.)
  • No need to check back data generated, at the end of digitizing process, as it has been supervised while processing.

As it is a semi-automatic (not a fully automatic) method, a supervisor is needed to guide the system through.

Future Developments:
By adding Artificial Intelligence algorithms to the image processing that this tool does, detection of the desired objects on map would be a lot accurate and easier and can lead to automatic digitization of the whole objects.

One-Click Map Digitizing Sample
  Look  how my algorithm tracks & digitizes user-demanded
objects in a true-color scanned map, just by a click.
  Mehran Hoodeh, Smart Map Digitization