More and more I’ve been seeing references about Geospatial PDF mapping. I finally had an opportunity to research and thought you might be interested in my findings.
Although I try to stay current with technology, sometimes I find myself saying, WHAT?
The word geospatial is used to indicate that data that has a geographic component to it. This means that the records in a dataset have locational information tied to them such as geographic data in the form of coordinates, address, city, or ZIP code. GIS data is a form of geospatial data. Other geospatial data can originate from GPS data, satellite imagery, and geotagging. Source: GIS Lounge
Whether you use a standalone GPS unit or a mapping app on your phone, there are times when established trails aren’t visible on any available digital maps. This was the case for a local BLM recreation area I recently hiked.
You can see the CalTopo map is far more detailed than either of the other two options. I could just print out the map and use it for navigation, but what if there was a way to know exactly where you were on the map?
(1) Download a PDF Geospatial Reader app. The most popular seems to be Avenza. I haven’t played with the app much, but it appears powerful with a store to purchase map sets. But you can also use it as a free interactive reader which is what I did.
(2) Download a geospatial map. You may be able to find maps available in this format. Check out this list from the National Park Service. If there’s not one available, you can also create your own which is what I did using CalTopo.
Step 1: On the CalTopo website, after finding your area of interest and marking any details you’d like included, select print, center the red box using the red dot to move it around, change the parameters in the format box to “Geospatial PDF,” then select “generate PDF.” Note: you can make the map details small for this step as you’ll be able to zoom on your phone.
Step 2: I was working on my computer so I saved the file to my computer, then sent it as an email attachment to myself so I could download to my phone. You can also open the CalTopo website on your phone and go to your account where you’ll see a tab for PDF, then download directly to your phone.
(4) Adjust your phone settings. You’ll need to have “location” turned on. To save battery, you can leave phone in airplane mode.
(5) Select the “location” icon to see your location as a blue dot on the map. It’ll follow you as you hike. On this network of trails, it was very helpful. Note: the location icon is denoted by the yellow star in this photo.
I could have created a track on CalTopo and uploaded to my phone mapping app; however, with so many trail options, I wanted the flexibility to explore on the fly.
Have you been using Geospatial PDF maps? If so, do you have other tips to share?
FYI, you can now print your own standard PDF USGS 7.5 minute, 1:24,000 base Quad Maps