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Let Fitchburg's Mapping Specialists Create Your Next Custom, Interactive Map

By Kelly Church

For the intricate work of cartography (the business of creating maps) Mapping Specialists Limited out of Madison, WI uses advanced technology to develop maps for all types of industries. The company distributes maps to schools, the travel industry, and federal, state and local government agencies. The company works closely with its clients to give them flexibility and the best map for their investment.

The company was started by a trio that was associated with the Geography department at University of Wisconsin-Madison. They wanted to have an opportunity to create government maps. Thus, they created the Mapping Specialists and one of the first projects they received was for the United States Forest Service and the Defense Mapping Agency. After a couple years of working with various government agencies, they expanded to the education market in 1986.

"The education market continues to be a strong segment for us, but we also provide services for the travel industry, trade and reference (road atlases, encyclopedias, real estate, etc.) and have a large format printing and laminating division," Knipfer says.

The team of mapmakers behind Mapping Specialists has a varied background. A few have degrees in cartography; one man has a writing background; another in geology; another in geography. Knipfer says, however, that it takes all kinds to create a full map, and not everyone requires a degree in cartography to be great at their job.

"Typically a cartographer has a degree in cartography, GIS (Geographic Information Systems) or an associated geology field," Knipfer says. "Most of our employees have one of these degrees as well as experience [or] training in computer programming, graphic arts [or] book design."

All of these subjects play a role in creating an effective map. Working with Mapping Specialists means each client is not only getting design services, but also getting assistance with the research and editing phase, and correcting any errors. All of these steps are built into their initial estimate. They can be recruited for printed maps and interactive maps, for any purpose.

"As technology has changed, so has how we present maps," Knipfer says. "While many thought the printed textbook would be long gone by now, that isn't the case. Instead it has remained, but the ancillary materials offered to teachers has changed."

Knipfer says these materials can span many different categories, including the creation of interactive graphics. Interactive maps start with a static image that is developed into a moving picture. Knipfer says this is extremely helpful in showing exploratory routes. This method can incorporate timelines as well, making them even more beneficial for the user. The company has found a greater use for these maps, outside of education. Knipfer says they have proven to be helpful in travel, trade and reference areas. One frequent user of the interactive maps is the city's chamber of commerce.

To order a map, or recruit Mapping Specialists for your next mapping project, visit www.mappingspecialists.com.

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