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Printed maps will continue to be in demand

Apr 2007 | Comments Off on Printed maps will continue to be in demand

although distribution mechanisms and types of products available may change


IMTA claims to be “the voice of the industry worldwide”. Please comment.

The IMTA was established over 25 years ago with the aim of promoting the interests of all companies and businesses involved in the mapping industry, from retailers of atlas products and manufacturers of globes, right through to the developers and distributors of geographic information systems and spatial data. As you know, our industry has many aspects to it and there is no one organisation, except the IMTA, responsible for linking together all the many companies that are involved in producing a product and bringing it to market. By its structure into three speci? c regions, the IMTA is a truly global organisation. The IMTA has recently re-evaluated its strap line and believes that the one we have adopted for 2007 and beyond “Connecting the Business of Maps Worldwide” better re? ects our roles and objectives.

What is IMTA all about?

The International Map Trade Association (IMTA) represents the commercial interests of the global mapping and spatial information industry. It is organised into 3 regions, The Americas, Asia Paci? c, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and altogether represents over 500 companies and organisations from over 50 countries. We are committed to:

  • Bringing together in one organisation, for mutual bene?t, persons, ? rms and institutions engaged in the production and sale of maps, globes, spatial information, software and related products and materials;

  • Providing services and educational programs, consistent with the needs of the membership; information products.

  • Promoting high standards of professional competence, conduct and ethics; and

  • Fostering communication and cooperation within the global mapping and spatial information industry.

Is it an association or does it make maps?

The IMTA is a business association providing mechanisms which its members can use to improve and grow their businesses. It does not produce maps of its own. Instead, it leaves this to its many members to undertake.

Does IMTA carry out pro? tmaking activities as well?

The aim of the IMTA is not to make pro? t but to undertake activities and services that provide a bene? cial return to its members. This includes organising and managing trade shows and conferences and providing other communication mechanisms by which members can grow their businesses. In providing these services, there is understandably a need to ensure that they are provided value for money for all organisations participating, whether they be members or not.

Could you highlight some of its main achievements?

The IMTA undertakes a global programme of activities each year. These include undertaking three trade shows and conferences a year, one in each of the main continents of Europe, the Americas and the Asia Paci?c area. These events include forums for government agencies, retailers and publishers that provide an opportunity for both members and non members to promote their services. They also include programs aimed at educating participants in emerging technologies and business practices. The IMTA also participates in other associated events such as book fairs in Frankfurt, Tokyo and New York and also in the ESRI Users Conference in San Diego. The IMTA was also a founding member in the establishment of the Joint Board of Geospatial Information Societies (JB GIS), which is a coalition of leading international geospatial societies that can speak on behalf of the geospatial profession at international level, especially to the United Nations and other global stakeholders (http://www. ?g.net/jbgis/). We have also been a founding member of the UK Geoforum, a group comprising all spatial information societies in the UK with the aim of working together jointly to promote the spatial information industry and the related industry societies.

How do you encourage use of emerging technologies?

New technologies, cartographic techniques and mapping products are emerging all the time – and keeping up-to-date with industry developments can be a real challenge. That is why the IMTA organises global conferences to facilitate the exchange of information between companies. At these conferences, not only are there displays of new products by participating companies, but educational and information forums are also held for the bene?t of all members. In addition, we produce a regular journal for members called The Map Report. This journal contains a broad range of articles and features on new developments, trends and products in the industry. Our web site also provides a forum for new products and for new products and services to be advertised and discussed.

Do you lobby for conducive map policies?

The IMTA does not have any speci?c policies for governments of lobbying countries to ease the restriction on the production and distribution of spatial information. However, we ?nd it best to work in conjunction with our members in those countries to assist in the growth of their business.

How do you see the future of map making industry?

The map-making industry is a broad term. If you are talking about printed products, I believe that there will still be a demand for printed products for many more years to come. I can remember that over 10 yrs ago some were predicting the demise of the printed map but that has not stopped the production of many more maps than was available years ago, and the growth in speciality map shops. In some countries there has been a rationalisation of map outlets but in others there has been a signi?cant growth. These outlets now offer a wider range of products, both in hardcopy and digital, and also a range of ancillary products such as GPS and software.

With the increasing ease of availability of maps and mapping products over such delivery mechanisms such as the web there has been a corresponding increase in map usage amongst the public and businesses. For example, many more businesses are now using maps in their day to day business and mostly in digital form. Individuals can now plan a trip via the web but many still buy a printed product before they leave.

Although distribution mechanisms and types of products available may change I am optimistic that our industry will continue to grow for many years to come.


J K Payne (John) International President, International Map Trade Association (IMTA)

John has over thirty years experience in the production, sales and distribution of maps and spatial information. He was one of the foundation members of the Asia

Pacifc Region of IMTA and has been a Board member since the establishment in 1989 in Australia of an industry organisation. In 2004 he was elected the International President of the Association.

John is a graduate of the Australian National University, spent 30 yrs working for the Australian Federal Government’s mapping organisation (now called Geoscience Australia) and is currently Managing Director of, Earthinsite.com Pty Ltd, which specialises in the use of the Internet for the delivery of spatial information products.

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