I’m in search of a super generalized but comprehensive global coverage dataset or datasets that shows major highways and rail lines, even sea lanes. You can see an example of this on Plate 21 of the National Geographic 8th Edition Atlas of the World. Do you know of one? Please shoot me a note to email@example.com or comment here if you have a tip.
Why do I want such? I am working with Tom Patterson (of Natural Earth fame) and Dick Furno (retired from The Washington Post) to release a comprehensive, attributed GIS base map dataset derived in part from the Natural Earth physical wall map at around 1:15,000,000 scale and two other consistent and self referential datasets at approx. scales of 1:50m and 1:110m. These datasets will provide coverage that perfectly registers with the modern satellite remote sensing imagery and SRTM derived topography. Yes there is 1:1m coverage around the world but it is often out of date and too detailed for doing global, continental, and regional mapping.
We hope these open source datasets will allow everyone in the cartographic community to focus on telling the best “why” and “how” visual story about their thematic data instead of spending 50 to 70% of project time looking for or creating the vector geometry that captures the basic “where” of their thematic data.
Release is expected Fall 2009 at the NACIS map conference in Sacramento. Please check back in this space for more details as they develop.