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Why there is still no full-coverage digital topographic map of Russia?

Yandex has presented users new service named National map, which makes it possible for every person to mark on the satellite image new objects of locality – houses, streets, roads, wood, rivers, lakes as well as complete them with descriptions.

One should understand that digitization to a great extent changed the usual conception of a map. If topographic maps represent a digital version of paper maps with all proper geodetic details, navigation or street map in its turn doesn’t require such detailed topographic data.

Road maps, tourist maps and fishing maps differ from each other by points of interest, that include gas stations, shops, hospitals, restaurants, places of interest and others. Thus with the reference to navigation charts these are digital databases on which today’s most popular mapping services are built.

In order to map road junctions, crossings and other elements that are important for road-users, it’s just necessary to buy satellite images from legal suppliers. That is what Yandex has chosen. Sergey Miller, the president of GIS-Association, pointed out that the source data can be obtained at the price of $25-30 per square kilometer.

The most fundamental distinction from navigation chart is a road chart which represents a detailed categoric scheme of road network georeferenced with locality. Exactly the development and support of a road chart is the most labor-intensive and time-consuming task in the process of navigation maps creation.

All digital topographic maps of Russia are stored in GosGisCentre - Federal State Unitary Enterprise, which draws maps in the form of identifying sheets. It’s necessary to gather everything from these sheets into one map, provide it with metadata and wrap it in service. Along with this it’s necessary to update this data. At present a small number of companies are engaged in this business. That's why today Russian chart map represents a blank sheet with random federal highways and inclusions of big cities.

In 2006 the government of Russian Federation approved the idea to create a base of spatial data. This sphere accumulated great experience around the world. In developed countries all institutions, related to roads, rivers, construction and other important objects, are constantly gathering information about changes that form a single database. In Russia there is no such cartographic database that can be used by all market players.

However there are other weak points. In particular nothing was changed in the legal base whereas the transition from flat image to spatial databases requires reviewing of intellectual property status. In developed European countries there is a strong tendency towards free access to topographic maps. If this is possible in Russia still remain unclear.

Digital cartography and GPS navigation 28-05-2010