MicroColour Map Display System

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Micro Mapping In October 1989 MicroColour International announced a low cost map display system based on Cibachrome colour microfiche. Since its introduction the MicroColour Map Display System, has successfully proved itself in a number of Police Command & Control Rooms in the UK.

The first MicroColour Map Display System was installed in England at Thames Valley Police Force. They police a large and densely populated, geographical area that includes Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, an area bordering the capital city London.

Prior to a mapping system, Thames Valley Police embarked on a programme that involved implementing new 'Area Control Rooms'. This allowed the regional areas to be policed from 6 individual Area Control Rooms. With their HQ at Kidlington in Oxfordshire performing a support function for the Area Control Rooms.

The high cost of implementation of Area Control Rooms and 'limited' local police funding meant that all costs had to be contained within the allocated budgets with no room for overruns. The lion's share of the budget was allocated for the cost of setting up of new Area Control Rooms and for the purchase of costly hardware equipment. This included Mainframe Computers, Voice Logging System and Touch-Screen Mobile Communication Systems. With the high cost of these equipments, it meant that very little money could be allocated for an up to date mapping system.

The team in charge of the 'mapping' project, Sergeant Dave Meredith and Inspector Martin Elliott, visited a number of police forces and map equipment vendors. The objective was evaluate the available systems. From simple wall-hang paper maps to sophisticated Geographical Information Systems (GIS).
Systems Evaluated

In the past having used paper maps and atlases for their mapping. Thames Valley Police needed an equally easy and simple, low-cost system, but without the bulky large paper maps associated with the printed maps.

The following systems were evaluated:

  1. A full Geographical Information System (GIS) was first considered. The GIS system had the advantage of infinitely variable map scaling. The vector drawn maps were fast and information from in-house database could be overlaid onto the screens to show crime patterns. It was a complex system requiring large monitors to display the maps, and due to the complexity of the system it required many man hours of training and relatively high maintenance cost. In any case a GIS system was not needed by all the operators in the Command & Control rooms. In the end the GIS system was rejected on the basis of being too expensive.

  2. A hybrid GIS system was also evaluated. This stand alone system used rasterised map images recorded on Laser Disk. The system again utilised a TV monitor to display the map images. Access to the images on the Laser Disk was through a PC compatible computer interfaced to a Laser Disk player. This system while being less costly and less complicated to use then the full GIS system, it was also a less flexible. To have customised maps images put onto the Laser Disk was an expensive option, due to the high costs of mastering the Laser Disks. The display qualities of the rasterised map images were limited by the TV monitor being used. This system was again rejected on cost basis.

  3. A simple system based on 35mm slide projection was also looked at. A few police forces had been using 35mm slides for map projection in their Command & Control Rooms. The Thames Valley Police project team rejected this idea. Not only the resolution from the 35mm slides was poor but also the projected colour maps looked washed out after prolonged use. This was due to fading of colour dyes used in the slide films.

  4. A 35mm aperture-card system was also considered. But the high reduction ratios needed to film the large maps meant that only a mediocre image could be displayed on the aperture card reader's screen.
Solution At the final stages of their evaluations the Thames Valley Police project team contacted MicroColour International. As the premier provider of Cibachrome Services in the UK, MicroColour International was able to offer a low-cost map display system. The MicroColour Map Display System was capable of accommodating the Thames Valley Police's large maps onto 105mm Cibachrome colour microfiche. Using the world's largest micrographics camera, each colour map was microfilmed in "Full-Frame-Format" onto Cibachrome colour microfiche - a high resolution 148 x 105 mm. (approximately 6" x 4") positive-image colour transparency.

The use of Cibachrome microfiche system allowed Thames Valley Police to have their customised maps microfilmed. MicroColour International was able to 'cut & paste' maps together, so that an Area Control Room near a map boundary could be centred in the middle of a microfiche map. This was achieved simply by 'pasting' a section from an adjacent map onto the boundary before microfilming the map.

The Thames Valley Police 'mapping' project team also chose the MicroColor 895A dual-lens 'colour-optimised' microfiche readers to display their microfiche maps. These low profile, 14" x 11" screen, readers occupy very little desk space and have low running costs - typically 55 watts. They require virtually no maintenance, except periodic cleaning and a simple lamp replacement.

The low-cost of MicroColour Map Display system has allowed the Thames Valley Police to purchase one MicroColor 895A microfiche reader for every Area Control Room operators' desks.

It is now a simple matter for an operator to insert the required microfiche map into the reader's carrier and for the map to be immediately displayed on the screen.

The MicroColour Map Display System also has the added advantage that it suffers from none of the problems associated with the TV monitor based mapping systems. Such as emissions of electromagnetic radiation and image flicker. It simply allows the microfiche map images to be safely viewed without eye fatigue, even during prolonged use.

Advantages of MicroColour Map Display System

MicroColour Map Display System has the following advantages over other map display systems:-

  • Cost Effective - Low start up costs, more units can be added as required.
  • Ease of Use - Instant access to any maps, by simply inserting the relevant microfiche into a reader. Any part of the map can be viewed by merely moving the microfiche carrier. An operator can easily look-up a wide area on the colour microfiche maps to locate a specific target. Then by utilising the dual-lens facility of MicroColour microfiche readers, the target area can be magnified for more detail.
  • Customised Microfilming - The microfilming of maps is not restricted to standard published maps. MicroColour International is able to combine sections from different maps or drawings onto one microfiche. As well as microfilm maps that have been customised by colour coded boundaries.
  • Space Saving - Our "Full-Frame-Format" reduces maps and survey information storage space requirements by over 95%.
  • Archival Quality - Cibachrome colour micrographic film ensures that map images will not fade under continuous projection.
  • Flexible System - Various hardware can be used to display maps. MicroColour International can supply desktop, portable, hand-held, Computer Aided Retrieval Systems, as well as reader-printers.

Since the introduction of the MicroColour Map Display System a further range of readers have been added to the present desktop microfiche readers:


Implementation at West Yorkshire Police Force  |  Map Display System  |

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