Why Use a Map Management System
After coming to the realisation that custom interactive maps is a great way to communicate details about various types of data, some people question the need for a solution to manage these maps. These people usually think in either one of the following ways:
- "our Content Management System has some mapping capabilities"
- "our IT department can make the maps"
Limitations of Content Management Systems
We are yet to see a Content Management System with mapping capabilities that are even comparable with a dedicated mapping solution. Often Content Management Systems purport to provide certain mapping features, but in reality the capabilities are severely limited or constrained. These systems may provide a customer with a reasonable percentage of the initial capabilities they need, but are unable to provide the remaining capabilities. Customers' requirements change over time, so it is inevitable that the missing capabilities are not known at the time they are evaluating systems.
Creating Maps Manually
It may be possible to create a small number of simple maps faster and cheaper than purchasing and setting up a dedicated mapping system, however, you should also consider the cost of ironing out any bugs and maintaining the maps over time. Good map management solutions are cost effective because they require less labour than manual creation and maintenance of maps.
Core Mapping System Capabilities
When evaluating a mapping system, the following core requirements should be taken into account:
- Ability to add map data in a variety of formats: shape files, KML, GeoRSS, etc.
- Flexible presentation: customisation of toolbars, icons, colours, zooms, etc.
- Rich feature meta data: addresses, contacts, open hours, images, etc.
- Mobile support: various phone and tablet display sizes
- Performance: ability to scale
- Advanced features: directions, virtual tours, geocoding, distance tools, in map search