Evolution of Maps in Business - Past (Part 1)
By definition, Business is an activity that allows us to make our living by either producing, buying or selling goods and services. The way we interact and exchange goods with others evolved with the growth of our species.
With the evolution of our civilization, the business evolved, and it was not just buying or selling goods with nearby people, we needed to explore and expand our reaches. The explorer instinct in us allowed us to spread our species throughout the world and to get from point A to point B was always a challenge that we needed to overcome.
For several millennia, we used stars, mountains, tree lines and water bodies as our guiding force to identify the path and travel to places that were once beyond our reach.
Our limited understanding of the geography limited our abilities to navigate. However, as we traveled, we build our geographical map of the places we visited. Thus the concept of maps was born!
The cumulative knowledge of the geographical regions gathered by travelers over the eons led to the prototypical maps of the Classic Era. These maps, yes there were more than one, served as a base for our travels and our endeavors to improve the maps in the future.
The Great Silk Route – Connecting the East to the West
The Silk Route, which was a Trans-Eurasian ‘super-highway’ of its time, gave further impetus to physical map making.
The growth of trading caravans between China and Europe ushered the growth of map makers, with every subsequent set of maps being more detailed and descriptive than the previous ones.
Nonetheless, it was mostly the Europeans who charted their journeys towards the East, adding vivid pictures of exotic animals, Central Asian tribes, landmarks, and routes to avoid due to the threat of armed locals on their maps.
Early Modern Age Begins – Call of the Currents
The Ottoman conquest of Asia Minor closed the Silk Route forever and ushered into the age of maritime exploration.
In their bid to explore the sea route to India for its many riches, especially for ivory, spices, and silk, Europeans reached the Americas.
Pioneers like Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, Vasco Da Gama and many other men of grit mapped the seas, braving rough weathers and the uncertainty of ever seeing land.
Maritime Inventions – Taming the Waves
The heroes of seas in the early modern age gave us sextant, improvised compass, navigational astronomy, octant, cross-staff and an understanding of time zones as they moved from ocean to ocean.
This led to the most significant development in mapping which enabled us to plot one’s position on Earth in a more scientific and measured manner, the concept of latitudes and longitudes. This discovery was an improvisation for nautical maps.
As navigation transitioned from an alternative to a standard in international trade, it triggered a boom of navigational instruments and of course, maps. Since the 17th century, as maritime trade and transport grew by leaps and bounds, world maps started to morph towards perfection by gaining a more coherent and sensible form.
With the standardization of measurements and decades of hard work put into correctly calibrating instruments that enable them, navigational devices got accurate and better. Added into this were the cumulative experience and the resultant knowledge that had led to some navigational standards, precautionary measures and a better understanding of capes, stormy oceans, time zones, seasons, isolated islands and essential ports.
The nautical world maps of today are indirectly a result of those early innovations.
The Advent of Aerial Photography – Eye in the Sky
However, the best of what pre-satellite and pre-digital era technology offered us was a combination of two path-breaking techniques.
Aerial photography enabled us to map smaller regions that could be covered with the limited altitude of flight. With further improvements in aviation technology, higher altitudes could be reached which further led to a more a better and conceptual view of a larger geographical zone.
These aerial maps were initially used in warfare by reconnaissance of enemy territory. However, it was eventually used for purposes such as weather, recording effects of a calamity over a region, traffic density, studying urban growth and development and environmental issues such as forest fires. Aerial Cartography was the progenitor of future map making technologies.
While this was the peak of mapping that we could attain before the advent of satellite technology, it was digital mapping that was going to be the game-changer in the long run.
Moreover, it was not going to take any further long to establish digital mapping driven by satellites as the standard, which was eventually going to relegate aerial photography mostly to the hobby and a limited array of other applications in the 21st century.
This blog is a part of three-part blog series discussing the Evolution of Maps in Business – The Past, The Present and The Future.
In the next blog, we will discuss the evolution of maps in business in the present.
Maplytics is a leading geo-analytical app for Dynamics 365 and is one of the first mapping solutions to be Certified for Microsoft Dynamics 365 (CfMD). Maplytics provides powerful map visualization and routing capabilities within Dynamics 365 to offer insightful location-based business insights. By using the powerful feature of Maplytics like Appointment Planner, Route Optimization, Proximity Search based on Distance and Time, Concentric Proximity Search based on Distance, Along the Route Search, Analytical Dashboards, and Territory Mapping & Management, an organization can drive better sales, improve business processes and engage right customers at the right time.
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