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Insights & Trends 3 min read

What is the difference between a static and dynamic map?

Fidelity Editorial card 1-UniMap

As navigation turns digital, dynamic maps are taking over from the traditional, static ones. But how has this changed mapmaking?

Imagine you are navigating a hiking trail or exploring a city's landmarks using a paper map to find your way around. In this case, you'd be using a static map. Static maps come in the format of printed or digital images such as JPEG or PNG, displaying a fixed area or information that cannot be changed by the user.

Static maps serve as reliable references that work both on and offline and offer a clear snapshot of the area to help users get their bearings. And while they lack real-time updates, zoom functionality and customization features, static maps excel in providing a simple and user-friendly tool for understanding the geography of a specific area.

But in the digital world, static maps don't quite cut it. This is where dynamic maps take over. Unlike their static version, dynamic maps are highly flexible and responsive, adapting their display with feedback from real-time data and inputs they receive from users.

These are the maps you'll find in your phone's navigation apps, like HERE WeGo, for example. What makes these maps dynamic is their ability to provide turn-by-turn directions while also giving users live traffic updates, alternative route suggestions and real-time information.

Imagine driving through a busy city center and receiving immediate alerts about accidents or road closures. Dynamic maps are designed to deliver an interactive and personalized experience that makes journeys more efficient and enjoyable.

Dynamic mapping 

But when compared, what makes them different and which one is better?

The main difference between static and dynamic maps lies in their flexibility and responsiveness to real-time inputs. While static maps serve the basic purpose of providing location information, interactive dynamic maps give the user a more interactive experience by allowing customization, zooming in or out features and real-time updates.

They are also used for different purposes. Static maps are a great option for situations that require a fixed image or printed material, while dynamic maps are best for modern navigation and location-based services, where real-time data and user interaction are necessary.

As technology continues to advance, it's likely that dynamic maps will become more prevalent and essential in our day-to-day navigation and location-based services. But static maps will remain a reliable and useful reference point, providing a clear snapshot of an area. Ultimately, the choice between static and dynamic maps depends on the user's needs and the context in which they are being used.

Maja Stefanovic

Maja Stefanovic

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