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Digital Maps 101
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Dive Into GIS
Why should I use digital map data?
Digital map data, commonly available in ArcGIS-compatible shape files, can be a good tool for exploring your data. With GIS software, you can:
What is the difference between digital map data and print maps in coverage?
Over the past decade, many countries have shifted from providing print maps to providing GIS data. This means that digital data sources can be more up-to-date than the print maps you currently use.
Historical maps are also part of many digitization programs.
Can digital mapping software replace all print maps?
No. Depending on how you use maps, you may need to reference older print maps to assess areas of rapid change. Some parts of the world do not have robust digital data programs, and it can be more reliable in these cases to use print maps. Additionally, some people prefer the aesthetics or ease of working with print maps. While that can be approximated by printing a map from digital GIS data, becoming comfortable and fluent in GIS software can take time.
Where can I learn how to use ArcGIS?
Click on our tab that says "Dive Into GIS." It will redirect you to Miriam Olivares' GIS guide, which includes a calendar. She has created a program of workshops (repeated multiple times each semester) that teach the basics of ArcGIS and geospatial software. While many people can learn ArcGIS on their own, others prefer the workshops because it shows you the capabilities of the software up front.