Beginning over 50 years ago, triggered by the challenges of maintaining and updating numerous paper maps, national mapping agencies (NMAs) worldwide gradually and successfully completed the first digital transformation from paper maps to national geodatabases. The first digital transformation – digitization – eventually made maps and mapping ubiquitous and pervasive in our daily life and business through Google Maps and alike. It is fair to say that without the first digital transformation, there would be no Google Maps. NMAs worldwide are now facing new challenges from the new technologies such as AI/machine learning and big data analytics to better serve the society and users in a mobile/cloud computing environment and to make NMAs more competitive in the big data era. While the first digital transformation was largely about the transformation from maps to geodatabases, the second digital transformation – digitalization – is about the transformation from big data to geographic knowledge for the purposes of spatial planning and decision making. The second digital transformation will solve some unsolved mapping problems such as fully automatic map generalization. We boldly forecast that without the second digital transformation, it will be very difficult for NMAs to survive in the big data era, because of the emergence of open sources like OpenStreetMap. Through the second digital transformation, NMAs would continue to prosper in the coming decades as they have enjoyed a persistent boom over the past decades.
The new working group is to facilitate the digital transformation of NMAs in the big data era while facing the new challenges from big data and new technologies. We will advocate and promote new ways of mapping in a cloud or mobile computing environment, and harness the new technologies for NMAs to deliver better maps or data services for the users and society.
The mission of the working group may be closely related to those of the other working groups and commissions, for which we enthusiastically seek your collaboration and cooperation in the ICA community and even beyond.