How Are the Maps You See in GPS Made?

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself how your GPS knows which streets you need to follow to get to your destination? How do the maps know that you can turn in a street or contour in one place and not another?

How Are the Maps You See in GPS Made?

Despite having the best handsets, Garmin’s maps are not very good. What is the difference between software and hardware?

Like many everyday equipment, we get used to the GPS and do not even stop to think how it is that he knows so much, even being just a machine.For you to understand a little more on this subject, we separate some curiosities about the assembly and the distribution of the maps that you use in your device.

How a GPS Map Works

Before showing how maps are made, you need to understand that there are several models of devices and each one of them contains its own map or uses a licensed service.Therefore, it is important to buy good equipment, from a reliable brand, since they usually have much better data and are updated more frequently.

Choose your GPS by the quality of the map or by the possibility of putting a better map.

Yes, you need to periodically update your GPS!The road network of a city or country changes quite often – to give you an idea, approximately 20% of the country’s streets and roads suffers some kind of alteration for a year – and it is necessary that your device is always with the Latest version installed.

This is because, in most cases, your GPS device is just a browser.That is, the installed maps are not updated in real time, and the equipment works only with data previously entered.

GPS Navigator

When talking about GPS, people almost always think of a rectangular device with a little screen that shows the route, often guiding the driver aloud.During this article we will also call this GPS gadget, however technically the correct term is browser.

Devices with purposes – and prices – very different.

The difference between the two, beyond the format, is the use. GPS is a device that allows you to tell exactly the geographical point where one is in the world, with incredible precision.It has compass and other tools and is more used by adventurers and practitioners of geocaching , for example, and can cost more than $ 2,000, depending on the brand.

Already the browser allows, with an updated map installed, guide the user from one point to another.These browsers used in cars have a much lower precision than handheld GPS, but this is not a problem for the purpose it is used.A good browser can cost between 500 and 1000 reais approximately, depending on the model and the brand.

How GPS maps are made

Now that you know a little bit about how a GPS works, it’s time to understand how maps are created and work so well, since virtually the whole gap between a good navigator and a bad one is there.Of course, the hardware makes a difference, but it’s not much good equipment and bad software or an incomplete map.

There are several ways to create a map for GPS and each company uses a method, but in general the process is manual – at least in parts – and done by real people, who walk the streets mapping the cities.

The Tracksource Project is fully collaborative and voluntary.

And who are these people?An interesting mapping project of this type is Tracksource , the group that creates and updates maps from all over Brazil.There are hundreds of people, from developers to programmers, who use their free time to do this, making free the maps that are generated.

Collaborative work

The Tracksource project is a 100% collaborative and voluntary group, meaning no one earns anything to help develop the maps and programs used.This project began in 2002 to solve a serious problem: at the time, the maps that came in the devices were very simple and bad.

There are currently hundreds of people working for free to develop Tracksource project maps in a variety of ways: municipal and state developers, who travel, harvest, and edit data;The compilers who organize the information nationally;The programmers who develop the necessary tools and the coordinators – who are often developers and compilers as well.

As already mentioned, the method of working to do the mapping changes a bit according to the developer, but the principle is the same.We talked to a municipal developer of the Tracksource project and brought in detail details of the process that is used to create the largest GPS map in the country.

Identification and collection

Each city has a developer, who can be in charge of more than one municipality, inclusive.This person is responsible for updating and completing as much as possible the map of that region, identifying changes in streets and important points and placing those changes on the final map.

This is done in several stages and varies by person, but usually developers use their free time to travel around the area, walk around the city, find dirt roads in the vicinity and gather all of that using a GPS to chart the routes.

Route mapped using a GPS and transferred to the editing software.

In this data collection, he creates – often with the help of an external antenna – a file that contains exactly the route made by the car.At the same time it is also necessary to note the points of interest (POIs) of the place, to insert later as information on the map.These points are pharmacies, plazas, churches, main shops, health centers and hospitals, police stations, tolls, traffic lights, radars, etc.

Editing and compilation

Once the data has been collected, it’s time to put it all on the map.This step relies on external software and tools created by project partners.That way, not only the people who collect the data are important, but each one helps in an area.

Developers use “tracks” as a reference at the time of assembly, using tools like Google Earth, Google Street View, and even CAD maps provided by city halls so that it can be redesigned. Routes and prepare the map for compilation.

Editing is done manually by the developer.

The issue is thorough and should include all POIs correctly, according to a standard so that when you look for a pharmacy or other establishment on your GPS, it knows exactly where to drive your car.

Once edited, the developer sends the information to a compiler, a person who is responsible for putting together all the maps of a region, observing the boundaries so that there are no discontinuities on the map, among other problems.

This is done virtually every day by a state compiler, according to maps submitted by developers.Once a month these regions are united nationally so that the final map is made available to users.

Throughout the process, various validations are made to ensure the best map for the end user.Each month an update is available on the Tracksource project site and can be downloaded and used free of charge on Garmin browsers and mobile phones and tablets with the Navitel application.

Fastest route x shorter route

You may not know it, but good maps have information on the quality of the road, for example, a dirt road has its own marking, as well as small, main roads and avenues.This is used to calculate the fastest route for your car.

It is therefore recommended to leave your GPS set up to find the route faster, not shorter.In the second option, it ignores data on the quality of the roads and you could end up spending a lot more time on the route, going through slow streets, dangerous neighborhoods etc.The fastest route searches main avenues and preferred streets, speeding up the displacement.