History of Development of Mapping from Air Photographs (Especially for GATE-Geospatial 2022)

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It has been stated that the importance of an accurate, comprehensive and detailed survey in the early stages of the development will enable a country to utilize its natural resources, and develop its civilized resources much earlier and with greater utility than if, as is so often the case, development precedes the survey itself.

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It is recorded by a well-known authority that when settling in a part of Africa, then called the East African Protectorate, some thirty years ago he was allotted a small concession of land. After spending money on its development, he was informed officially that, because there were no reliable maps of it, he did not possess any land. On pointing out to the authorities that they had given him this land he was informed that it was not known what it was or where it was. Other people had taken up land in the vicinity which had been recorded officially, and it consequently appeared that the pioneer possessed no land at all.

Another authority points out the difference between the old days when settlers went out and became self-supporting and to-day when the settler must develop his land economically so that his products may be exported in order to provide him with the necessary funds to maintain a civilized standard of existence. It is evident that development must be planned on sound, economic lines. This particularly applies to railways, which should be located to provide efficient through routes, and to roads, which should be planned to connect with the various farms or other sources from which products can be obtained. Any process which advances this object more rapidly is of material value and it is in this connection that air survey can be of the utmost service in enabling developers to start on the right lines. Having selected, by means of aerial reconnaissance and photography the most profitable areas for development, the engineer can proceed to locate the essential lines of communication.

Economic location is ensured from the air survey, which has, in addition, a great number of economic uses. For this reason, it is quite wrong basically to utilize air survey simply for the purpose of rapidly completing the topographical survey.

Bourne late of the Imperial Forestry Institute, Oxford, emphasizes that the future prosperity of the British Empire depends to a great extent upon the development of the agricultural, forest, and mineral resources of the Dominions, India and the Colonies. The various official, scientific and commercial interests tend to approach the problem from different aspects, and he considers that the paramount importance of co-operation can only be ensured in a reasonable time and at a reasonable cost by air survey.

Illustration 2 for History of Development of Mappi …

The first requirement is a proper mapping system, because land, the basis of all wealth, cannot be efficiently allotted unless its position, size and natural features are known.

Before the days of air survey, when speedy reconnaissance of an area was necessary, the result was often a map of little subsequent value. It is recalled by a pioneer that on one occasion in Northern Rhodesia he made a reconnaissance survey of some 4,500 miles in six weeks. Distances were measured with a “perambulator,” consisting of the front forks and wheel of a bicycle, fitted with a cyclometer, while bearings were read by compass at distances of about one-third of a mile.

The result of many early surveys was a “plum-pudding” map, i.e.. one which had blank areas in various places. In the instance described these were avoided as far as possible by climbing hills and trees, taking compass bearings and observing areas with binoculars. When the readings were plotted, the detail was filled in by the information gathered by, t observation. In other cases, early surveys of this type would not fit, and, on more than one occasion, blank areas on the sheet had to be labelled: “These areas do not exist.”

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