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Does scale matter?

In a GIS, data can be physically displayed at any scale desired; however, the compilation scale of the information will often dictate the level or resolution of mapped features that is appropriate. Large scale mapping tends to be more accurate and detailed than small scale mapping. The more detailed the mapping, the greater the effort to collect, store, maintain, manipulate and display the information. Also, displaying very detailed information as a regional level may be slow in a GIS because of the amount of coordinate information involved, and the inappropriate detail may graphically clutter the resulting map view. Conversely, information compiled at a gross scale may not be detailed enough to support local applications.

Based on the above, compiling the geographic information at an appropriate level of resolution involves a careful balance between application needs for accuracy and detail, and the resulting constraints related to building and maintaining the database at that level. On the other hand, display rules can be configured within GIS applications to help users in locating and accessing information depending on the geographic extent of their viewing and purpose of specific applications.