Maps are an essential tool to interpret other documents. Visual materials are naturally easy to present and explain to others. No matter what kind of law you practice, brushing up on your geography skills can help you quickly get to the root of land based legal research. Read below to see how mapping and aerial imagery is being utilized in Canadian law.
Maps and aerial imagery can be used as independent, objective sources of information to support other facts. Interpretations and conclusions made based on geographic data can be refuted just like any other opinion. Understanding how to use maps effectively is essential to your practice since the creation and distribution of spatial data has become mainstream and highly accessible through online applications such as Google Maps and VuMAP.
Virtually every industry has inserted modern mapping into some aspect of its standard operating procedures. Expect this trend to continue. Law being incredibly multifaceted, using maps and aerial imagery in legal practice can be grouped into three basic strategies:
Aerial imagery is an object record of the past that can be used to answer questions about conditions that once existed at a location. Since aerial imagery is continuously updated, it's an easy way to visualize changes as they occurred over time.
- Historical right of way claims
- Public access to waterways
- Adverse possession
- Legal non-conforming land uses
- Drainage and flooding complaints
- Taxation and assessment
- Disaster reconstruction
- Monitoring compliance and evidence of non-permitted commercial land use
Aerial imagery is usually geometrically corrected to compensate for the movement of the aircraft such that the viewer's perspective is directly overhead at all points in the photo. Accurate measurements of distance, area, and sight lines can then be taken directly over photographic detail.
- Bylaw Compliance
- Human rights and discrimination
- Nuisance from noxious substance drift
- Committee of adjustment
- Liquor licenses
- Road accident reconstruction
Research and Pre-Search
Maps can help fill in the gaps and provide an alternative credible source where other reference materials may be difficult to locate, interpret, or explain to others. Of course any land based activities that need to be researched can be expedited with maps.
- Title searching
- Establishing ongoing criminal interest in a location
- Establishing a baseline of ‘normal’ activity
- Aid to interpret other reference materials
Related: What You See Is What You Get?