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The present day position of soviet military maps

Things done or issued some twenty-forty years ago are considered to be outdated and outlived its usefulness in the modern world. But even such on the one hand evident statement has some exceptions.

And soviet military topographic maps can be regarded as one of these exceptions.

Even today travelers from all over the world use these military maps to study the region of special interest, to compile itineraries, to take bearings. It appears to be especially relevant if we speak about trip held in the countries of Asia and Africa where as a rule there is no modern mapping data and even if there is one it’s not always of a good quality.

Many map-makers, geologists and historians use soviet topographic maps in their research programs as the former represent a reliable source of geo information.

And naturally one can inquiry why soviet maps appear to be in such demand in the 21st century? One of the answers can be that the quality of maps is so high and the accuracy so exact that even nowadays with the help of modern technologies only urban areas are mapped and more remote and sparsely populated areas are not, because it requires a lot resources and is a very costly process.

And today we propose you to examine what criteria and requirements military agencies of Russian and East European countries set towards the quality of maps.

In order to assess the quality of a technical product, the USSR State Standard used such generalized notions as products liability – the capability of products to perform effectively their function in required conditions and terms of usage. When used in respect of maps their liability depends on integrity, reliability, accuracy and up-to-dateness.

Let’s consider first the creation of a new topographic map. Compilation, analysis and assessment of sources make up the most important part of any stage of a mapping process. Integrity, reliability, accuracy and up-to-dateness of resources predetermine the quality of a map, and the convenience of its usage affects the cost of a map plotting process. It’s important not only to find sources but to analyze them, compare and assess and finally to chose the best out of all.

Analysis and assessment of the maps are necessary in the process of map planning, in particular to determine the content of a map, the degree of generalization and ways of depiction. In this case maps of the same type as the plotted one are subject to a review. The goal of this study is to eliminate weak points of existing maps. Analysis of sources is also used in the process of map plotting when i.e. it’s necessary to tie up and coordinate different sources. Eventually a final version of a map is subject to analysis and assessment, the aim of which is to check whether the map meets specified purpose and planning objectives.

As for published maps the analysis and assessment are required to write reviews, i.e. critical comments, that reveal scientific and ideological quality of maps and their practical value; to choose maps used to address specific scientific or practical problems (for example, for cartometry), etc.

Consequently a comprehensive analysis of maps consists of multifaceted research of their peculiarities and properties, that determine the quality of maps which is to meet the requirements set in accordance with the function of a map. The quality of a map is determined by a proper choice of a scale and other elements of the mathematical framework: integrity, reliability, accuracy and up-to-dateness. Scientific and ideological aim is also important.

Thus it becomes clear that in the process of map plotting the Soviet Union pursued not only the quantity of maps issued but tracked scrupulously and constantly improved the quality which makes military maps unique and still up-to-date even nowadays.

Mapstor news 10-05-2010