Google Earth Ought to Consider Map Projection Options to Prevent Unnecessary Distortions

No one can deny that the mapping programs which are available to each and every one of us online today are nothing short of spectacular. The satellite imaging from Google Earth is clearly ahead of its time, and these types of renderings haven’t been available to the public for decades, while governments, big industry, and […]

Google Earth Ought to Consider Map Projection Options to Prevent Unnecessary Distortions

No one can deny that the mapping programs which are available to each and every one of us online today are nothing short of spectacular. The satellite imaging from Google Earth is clearly ahead of its time, and these types of renderings haven’t been available to the public for decades, while governments, big industry, and military did have access to all of this. Today, these mapping programs are even available on mobile tech devices and mobile computers such as tablets.

Even though we’ve done such a wonderful job, I’m wondering if we could do it better. I say this because some of the maps are distorted, and I don’t mean that they are doing it on purpose, I mean that the Earth is a sphere, but these maps are flat, therefore they may not be exactly legitimate as you scale up or down. There are many strategies to use for this, and depending on which strategy they are using or which mathematical geospatial formulas, dictates whether the image will be accurately proportional.

Back in the 1990s I had read an interesting article by Erwin Raisz titled; “Map Projections” which discussed all the different ways of displaying maps on a 2-D plane even when the area viewed is in the real world which is 3-D and part of a spherical surface – the Earth is round remember? I am quite certain that many people understand the basic premise of what I am talking about, but did you know how many different ways there are to display mapping graphics. Here is a quick list described in the article;

  • Rectangular Projection
  • Mercator Projection
  • Sinusoidal Projection
  • Mollweide Projection
  • Goode’s Interrupted Projections
  • Eckert Projections
  • Conic Projection
  • Bonne Projection
  • Polyconic Projection
  • The Azimuthal Projections
  • Albers Projection
  • Lambert Projection
  • Gnomonic Projection
  • Orthographic Projection
  • Azimuthal Equidistant Projection

Okay so, now I’ve piqued your curiosity and you are intrigued by all the different ways of displaying maps, many of which you may not have heard of before. What if Google Earth and the other mapping programs which are being produced to compete with them offer the user a choice? What if the user could click on any one of those different types of projections, and the map would resize itself to the new criteria and parameters?

It might go a long way into helping people understand our Earth, and it would also help them consider the geospatial representations, opening up a whole new thought process, one which would expand their mind, and really get them thinking. If nothing else, we should do this while we are educating students in geography class, but for anyone who travels the world, or uses maps in their business or daily lives, they could benefit from such a choice. Therefore I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

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