Cultural Mapping

Published Nov. 20, 2012


The Cultural Mapping (CMAP) geodatabase was developed by the USACE Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Research Division at the U.S. Army Geospatial Center (AGC) to improve cultural situational awareness by serving geospatially referenced overlays that depict ethnic, tribal, religious and linguistic traits in a given location. The CMAP is intended for use by the United States Military and intelligence communities. The CMAP program is currently transitioning from the Research Division and into AGC’s Warfighter Support Directorate for production.

Key Capabilities

The primary purpose of the CMAP project is to acquire data over countries of immediate interest and then add adjoining countries and/or regions to widen the area of coverage, with the overall goal of obtaining worldwide coverage. Multiple coincident maps may be digitized to take advantage of available data sources. Information available for each area may include ethnic, tribal, religious or language affiliation. Providing the data in a GIS-compatible form allows the user to modify the data content according to more complete or up-to-date information.

Metadata is captured and includes: source map information (content, date, language and marginalia information); processing information (creation date and publication format–for example,  ESRI ArcInfo 9.x), distributor, and point of contact); and general map information such as abstract (for example, cultural mapping for the world with primary emphasis on ethnic groups and secondary focus on tribes, religions and languages) and themes or categories (for example, cultural, society and demographic).

Country atlases generated in GeoPDF format are developed as a special product in the CMAP geodatabase. The GeoPDF volumes are intended to provide a baseline set of maps depicting the distribution of people and their interactions with their natural and social environment.

Supporting Technology

The CMAP was created using the ESRI ArcGIS mapping software. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency World Country Boundary data is used to georeference the source maps. The data sources include open-source digital and paper map products, geospatial maps, vector data, and geographic subject matter experts. Source metadata is stored with the digital results using International Organization for Standardization(ISO) standards. The geodatabase does not discriminate between sources, spatial, or temporal resolutions, and may include more than one map per area if new, or substantially different, information is included in the additional sources. Information is collected primarily at a country-level, and categorized using ISO and standards-based codes.

Current Status

The CMAP geodatabase includes cultural components over 120 countries and regions with ethnic,  tribal, religious or language affiliation, and contains roughly 60,000 features. New source material over Latin America, Africa, and Asia is now being processed.

Contact, 703-428-6258, 703-428-7400

Information Generation and Management Branch (CEERD-TRG)
US Army Engineer Research and Development Center | Geospatial Research Laboratory

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