Turning Adobe Illustrator map art into web-map data

Some modern mapmaking tools don’t have direct antecedents. Yes, maps have long been composed of many layers of separate artwork just as we have digital map feature layers now, but in the during the time of Mylar overlays, pin registration, and photomechanical reproduction that resulted in static paper maps, there was nothing like the dynamic and highly interactive web maps that are second nature to us today.

A just-in-case map gets the call

King County Metro Transit, in coordination with area jurisdictions, including the City of Seattle, has long designated a network of high-ridership bus routes that can use typically plowed streets and which avoid steep hills to provide a reduced but core level of service during major snow events.

It is fortunate that weather conditions over the last six years had not necessitated the activation of Metro’s Emergency Snow Network and the publication of their Emergency Snow Network map. That is until two days ago.

When is a location not a location?

Cartographers and GIS analysts often have to make choices about where, within a given map space, to position points that represent real-world features. Shouldn’t be a big deal though, should it? A place is a place, a location a location. It’s just there. You know, where the house or building or parking lot, or whatever, sits on the ground! Well, it isn’t that simple.

Map literacy and the 2016 presidential election

Among the fundamental skills required to be map literate, that is, to be able to read and comprehend maps, are an understanding of scale, the recognition of spatial orientation, and an appreciation of map projections. A higher-level, overarching principle of map literacy is that a single map can seldom tell a whole story, which is a point well made by Dr. Kenneth Field, Esri senior cartographic product engineer, in a recent article in Wired.

Cold-War Soviet cartography in our own backyard

The Seattle Times on Saturday, June 2, published an article by staff reporter Erik Lacitis about a “secret, massive program that produced a million maps of cities and places around the world.” The mapping program is fascinating both from a cartographic perspective and a local perspective since Seattle and its environs are among the parts of the United States that were mapped.

Japanese American Remembrance Trail Map

One of the most satisfying things that a well-made map can do is convey a sense of place. And an especially well-map map may convey a sense of a past place that both infuses and transcends a present location. I came across such a map yesterday just a few blocks from our own King County GIS Center location, where Seattle’s Pioneer Square transitions to the International District, specifically the historic Japantown.

The marks we leave: John Spellman, 1926-2018

Government leaders inevitably leave long paper trails and numerous digital footprints. One of the newest marks made by our own current King County Executive, Dow Constantine, honors his first predecessor in his office, Gov. John Spellman who died on Tuesday. Remembrances of Gov. Spellman this week prompted me to reach back into my personal archives for a record of when then County Executive Spellman’s paper trail and my much more humble one intersected.

King County transit maps are multiplying

The re-use and re-purposing of map elements, especially digital map data, may seem simple and obvious since we are far past the time when the availability and use of digital data and production practices became the norm in cartography. But it hasn’t been all that long since the time when mapmakers were beholden to the technical strictures imposed by mechanical map construction methods.

New KCGIS Center-created map features Trailhead City—Issaquah, Washington

Lying at the foot of Cougar, Squak, and Tiger mountains, the City of Issaquah is uniquely situated as a natural starting point for exploring the Issaquah Alps via hundreds of miles of trails that are accessible from numerous trailheads in and near the city. Issaquah recently published a new citywide-plus trails map created by the King County GIS Center Client Services group…