Review article

Towards a Research Agenda for Increasing Trust in Maps and Their Trustworthiness

Georg Gartner


In this paper a proposal is presented on how cartographers can ensure and/or enhance the trustworthiness of maps. Maps, like all other means of communication, are a result of many decisions. Many of those decisions allow for several options. Default, clear or good practices, guidelines or recommendations do not always exist for which option to choose. It is rather a characteristic of cartography that individual decisions can be made, especially on data preparation, selection, and design aspects.
Because every map is a result of many decisions, trust in maps depends on those decisions being reasonable, not questioned, transparently accessible or underpinned by reliable decision makers (reliable in terms of their record as an institution, because of their reputation, because of their competence).
The advent of easy-to-use map making software and data handling instruments put some of those decisions in the hands of "everyone", as well as in the hands of many who might have an interest in using maps as instruments of communicating a specific agenda.
This is like other means of communication and has led to a rising discussion on "fake news", "fake media" and "fake maps", thus ultimately how we can trust the communicated information and how we can distinguish "fake" from "trustworthy" maps.
Therefore, in this paper a proposal is presented on how cartographers can ensure and/or enhance the trustworthiness of maps. This is done by introducing two concepts of "going deep", allowing for transparency of cartographic decisions and "going wide", allowing for contextualizing a given map by being able to access alternative maps of the same topic.
This proposal adds to the existing attempts to contribute to an ethical framework for map making, such as the Locus Charter or the Code of Ethics of the British Cartographic Society.


Trust; Trustworthiness; Cartographic Modelling

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