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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Using Digital Maps to Resolve Political Conflict

The Security Implications of New Mapping Technologies

Will digital mapping technologies such as GPS and Google Maps transform international politics? Jordan Branch thinks it’s possible. Just as the first map and atlas printers helped establish the territorial state as a dominant political unit, today’s mapping technologies may redistribute power in new ways.

Jordan Branch | May 8, 2015

Ten years ago, Google entered the online maps business and revolutionized our ability to navigate daily life. Thanks to the ubiquity of digital mapping, we may never get lost again. Google and its competitors have become the primary source for spatial information in everyday life, providing online maps, directions, and even turn-by-turn navigation on smartphones. Yet the effects of these tools go far beyond simply making travel easier: online mapping is reshaping everything from disaster relief to international boundary disputes. With the possibility for nearly anyone to create a map for almost any purpose, international political interactions are being transformed. Just as mapping helped to establish the territorial state as the dominant political unit in the modern world, new mapping tools and practices could be redistributing power in significant ways.

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