Building in the nation's burgeoning burbs is happening at such a torrid clip that it has outpaced cartographers' ability to map the latest subdivisions in places such as Elk Grove, Mountain House and Moreno Valley, all in California; Reno and Las Vegas; Phoenix; and central Florida.
Cartographers have struggled to chart the changing world for more than four millenniums, since Babylonians etched charts on clay tablets. But these days, the maps of America's fastest-growing suburbs are running woefully behind schedule at the same time that technological advances are raising travelers' expectations that it's possible to go from Point A to Point B without getting lost.
Even maps supplied by online services, which generally refresh their databases quarterly, or those zippy little global positioning system gadgets in expensive new cars and high-end rentals, are not much more current than many of the maps jammed inside glove compartments.
"It's tougher now with the growth to get a fully updated product to the market," said Edward Sweet, director of cartography, geographic information systems and research for Compass Maps Inc. of Modesto. "Scouting research is still very hard…. We rely on public works departments, government agencies, and they're in the same situation we are. They're so far behind with budget cuts and the costs of doing day-to-day business."
In Modesto alone, Compass gets information on 10 to 20 new streets and two or three new subdivisions each month to add to its city road map, which is being updated for 2006. The California State Automobile Assn. is updating its Reno map
for the first time in 18 months, and cartographers are adding 700 streets.
"We have one person dedicated to doing Las Vegas, and it's a lifetime career, it seems," said Jonathan Lawton, senior cartographer at the San Francisco-based CSAA. "At one point, five years or so ago, Las Vegas had 400% growth, and that's hard to catch up with."
Sunday, August 21, 2005
from: La Ganga, Maria L. "You are here (we think . . .)." Los Angeles Times, 21 August 2005.