Saturday, January 02, 2016

The International Map Year 2015 - 2016

What would Orienteering be like without maps? Or, on a wider scale, what would our ever more complex civilisation be without maps and a proper use of geographic information? Worldwide celebration of maps and their unique role in our world, the International Map Year is in progress. Why don't we, orienteers, join the initiative?

The inaugural launch of International Map Year (IMY) took place the 1st January 2015, with a formal high-profile event during the ICA International Cartographic Conference hold in Rio de Janeiro in August 2015. It will continue until the end of 2016. Supported by the United Nations, IMY is an intensive international, interdisciplinary, scientific, and social strategy to focus on the importance of maps and geographic information in the world today. It is intended that all the International Cartographic Association's members (about 80 member nations worldwide) will participate in order to give each citizen a broader knowledge of maps – how they are produced and used for many purposes in society.

The specific purposes of IMY are to: Make maps more visible to citizens and school children in a
global context; give all students an opportunity to learn more about cartography and about its associated geospatial sciences – geodesy, photogrammetry, remote sensing and surveying; show how maps and atlases can be used in society; encourage all to experience how information technology can be used in acquiring and handling geographic information, and how it is possible to produce one’s own maps; display and show different types of maps and map production; show the technical development of mapping and atlas production; demonstrate the necessity of a sustainable development of geographic information infrastructures.

New book, The World of Maps

One of the most important educational resources delivered by the IMY Working Group of ICA, and intended to be used worldwide to raise awareness of maps and mapping in the context of IMY, is a specially prepared on-line book called The World of Maps. This specialist textbook on cartography and geographic information, is being published in English, French and Spanish. It describes how maps are created and used, presenting the importance of accurate and retrievable geographic information, and providing possibilities to download such resources. Written voluntarily by an international range of contributors, The World of Maps is available on the ICA website for free download at It presents a set of individual chapters covering a variety of cartographic topics and issues, and forms a coherent introduction, reference volume and work-book for those who are interested in investigating the nature of contemporary mapping.

In some countries, there are already established ‘map days’ or ‘GIS days’, either annual events or occasional celebrations, sometimes led by commercial companies, sometimes promoted by learned societies. Wellington (New Zealand), Pretoria (South Africa), Zvyozdny Gorodok (Russia) or Minneapolis (United States of America) are some of the places adherent to the initiative. Also the Barbara Petchenik Competition 2015, a biennial map drawing competition for children, the 1st Brazilian Cartographic Olympiad or Planetary Maps Exhibitions integrate the IMY's program. Demonstrations of map production and of the use of maps, local mapping programs for planning and maintenance of infrastructure (these may involve local services, such as firefighters and police), exhibition of historical maps – mainly local ones, cartographic activities for children, demonstrations of GPS, orienteering and geocaching and map use exercises are some activities that may be implemented when organizing a Map Day. For more details visit


Joaquim Margarido

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