A Multi-scale Dynamic Map Using Cartograms to Reflect User Focus

  • Grant Carroll
  • Antoni Moore
Part of the Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography book series (LNGC)


A dynamic map that recursively uses a cartogram algorithm in a nested structure to distort shape, enlarging any areas of user interest or focus, has been implemented and tested. The map organises space into a hierarchy of commonly-perceived geographical areas, which is the structure upon which distortion takes place (island at the country level, provinces at the regional level, districts, cities and suburbs). This approach is proposed to be more usable than traditional methods of multi-scale representation or moving between scales. The advantage of using this system is that the local view is expanded, whilst still allowing the global view to be maintained. Although akin to the fisheye display, the novel use of an automated cartogram (with area effectively being proportional to user interest) means that distortion calculation occurs to a great extent only where it is needed, to preserve the local egocentric view, whilst harnessing the cartogram’s ability to maintain approximate geographical shape.

This new method was tested to see if it was more usable than other traditional methods of statically or dynamically handling multiple scales (zoom in/out or the use of an inset map) using time as a measure. The cartogram map was found to elicit faster times to navigate to specific locations than the other methods, suggesting that it is more efficient. General satisfaction with the map was expressed in a survey, indicating overall a useful and usable way to navigate through space. This is despite radical distortions of shape, tested in an associated country / continent shape recognition test (it was verified elsewhere that the participants had total knowledge of the shapes of landmasses tested) to reveal that shape is the most important variable. Finally, relative orientation was tested with the cartogram map but no significant results were yielded.


egocentric view density-equalising cartogram hierarchy shape distortion 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Grant Carroll
    • 1
  • Antoni Moore
    • 2
  1. 1.Marlborough District CouncilBlenheimNew Zealand
  2. 2.School of Surveying / Department of Information ScienceUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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