Dr. Lynn Usery

Lynn UseryLynn Usery
ICA Vice-President
Senior Scientist, U.S. Geological Survey
Vice-President, International Cartographic Association
e-mail: usery@usgs.gov

Cartographic Evolution: From Hand-Drawn Graphics to Ubiquitous Web Cartography and Maps as Knowledgebases


The discipline of cartography has traditionally advanced with technological innovation. Hand-drawn maps, copper plate engraving, pen and ink, photographic film, scribecoat, computer-assisted mapping, map mashups, Web cartography, the Semantic Web and machine interpretation of maps as knowledgebases represent stages in the evolution of cartography. Additionally, the sources of data for mapping have similarly evolved technologically from field sketching, to photography, satellite remote sensing, lidar, and real-time data from sensor networks with the Web now providing access to all types of data that can be used for mapping. The cartographer has also evolved from an elite core of highly trained professionals to the Web availability of mapping for and by anyone. Cartography and map creation have become ubiquitous and public. Applications have also exploded with new and novel implementations of mapping and cartographic principles, such as those in automated topographic mapping, navigation, and location-based services for social and commercial interactions, being used in multifarious industries. The map user has also evolved with maps now used by societal segments and people who never used maps previously. Similarly, the subjects now mapped are unlimited and include items never considered mappable before and items that are only mappable through transformations of non-spatial data into spatial dimensions. These advances in technology and human society require the adoption of new paradigms and theories for cartographic research and education. We are at a major shift in the paradigm today from the basic communication model of cartography to critical cartography, to the map as an interactive knowledge base with capability to be interpreted and used, not only by human vision and reasoning, but also by computers and artificial intelligence systems. This paper documents some of these historical advances in the evolution of cartography with a focus on the current paradigm of ubiquitous and knowledge-based cartography and global sharing of geospatial information through maps.

Short CV

E. Lynn Usery is a Senior Scientist and Director of the Center of Excellence for Geospatial Information Science (CEGIS) with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). He has worked as a cartographer and geographer for the USGS for more than 28 years and a professor of geography for 17 years with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Georgia. Dr. Usery established a program of cartographic and geographic information science (GIScience) research that evolved into CEGIS. He has served as President of the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS), the Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS), and the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Dr Usery is currently a Vice-President of the International Cartographic Association. He was editor of the journal Cartography and Geographic Information Science and is currently Associate Editor for the International Journal of Cartography. Dr. Usery chaired the Local Organizing Committee and served as Conference Director for the 2017 International Cartographic Conference in Washington, D.C. He is a Fellow of CaGIS and UCGIS and received the CaGIS Distinguished Career Award in 2012. Dr. Usery has published more than 100 research articles in cartography and GIScience. He earned a BS in geography from the University of Alabama and MA and Ph.D. degrees in geography from the University of Georgia. His current interests and research are in theoretical GIScience including geospatial ontologies and semantics, map projections, multidimensional data models for lidar, and high performance computing for spatial data.