Map scale can be a tricky thing - it restricts the options for the amount of information you can have on a map and it can also be a little tricky to explain why! We get a lot of requests for maps that just won't work - including requests for single wall maps of the UK at street level - read on to find out how and why.
Introduction to Map Scales
Modern map scales are usually represented as a ratio and the most common map scales displayed in this way are:
1:10,000 (large scale)
1:1,000,000 (small scale)
But what do these actually mean?
Very simply, and taking 1:50,000 as an example, 1 cm measured on the map will equal 50,000 cm in the real world. So if we measured the distance between two points on a 1:50,000 scale map as 40 cm then the actual distance in the real world would be 2,000,000 cm or 12.427 miles.
By comparison, on a 1:800,000 scale map, 40 cm would be the equivalent of 198.839 miles.
Example Map Scales
For the above reason, it become clearer why our local Postcode Sector maps are at a scale of 1:150,000 scale but the national map is at 1:800,000 scale - the national map covers a much larger area than the Postcode Sector maps and therefore we have to squeeze more miles into each centimetre on the map.
Street Level UK Map
So what about that street level map covering the UK? What is the problem?
First we have to consider the amount of detail you need to be able to display streets, with their names, on a wall map. To do this properly on any piece of paper without making the streets blur together or making the street names illegible means that you can only squeeze about 1/10th of a mile into each cm on the map. Try and squeeze more in and the street detail is lost.
So, working from here, if you were to have a UK map at street level when you can only squeeze 1/10th of a mile into each cm then the wall map you would need would need to be approximately 60 metres high and 36 metres wide. You'd need a pretty big wall to mount the map on!
If you really do need street level detail for your business (or leisure activities) then consider the following options:
1. Do you really need all the UK covered or is it just certain target areas such as major cities? Whilst this would require multiple maps it is technically possible and may prove to be economically viable.
2. Can you make do with a national map and PC based street maps for reference? For example, a national wall map for reference purposes but then one of the ever-improving PC map systems such as Multimap, Google Maps or Google Earth which you can use off line.
3. Does your requirement justify investment of more specialist mapping software? These systems can cost from a few hundred pounds to many thousands and selecting the right one for you can be tricky but they are highly customisable and can be extremely powerful.
Whatever your requirement, if you are stuck or need advice then just let us know - we'll be glad to offer our assistance.