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Automated map projection selection for GIS

Gosling, Paul Christopher and Symeonakis, Elias (2020) Automated map projection selection for GIS. Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 47 (3). pp. 261-276. ISSN 1523-0406

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Abstract

The selection of an appropriate map projection has a fundamental impact on the visualization and analysis of geographic information. Distortion is inevitable and the decision requires simultaneous consideration of several different factors; a process which can be confusing for many cartographers and GIS users. The last few decades have seen numerous attempts to create automated map projection selection solutions based on traditional classification and selection guidelines, but there are no existing tools directly accessible to users of GIS software when making projection selection decisions. This paper outlines key elements of projection selection and distortion theory, critically reviews the previous solutions, and introduces a new tool developed for ESRI’s ArcGIS, employing an original selection method tailored to the specific purpose and geographical footprint characteristics of a GIS project. The tool incorporates novel quantitative projection distortion measures which are currently unavailable within existing GIS packages. Parameters are optimized for certain projections to further reduce distortions. A set of candidate projected coordinate systems are generated that can be applied to the GIS project; enabling a qualitative visual assessment to facilitate the final user selection. The proposed tool provides a straightforward application which improves understanding of the projection selection process and assists users in making more effective use of GIS.

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