Tristan Lyttle, applications coordinator with Toronto-based digital map company Avenza Systems Inc., said he does not foresee the extinction of print maps.
"That won't happen, and it shouldn't happen, especially for outdoor recreation users. What if you drop your iPad in the lake?" he said. "But there is a convenience with digital maps that print maps can't offer, so print is being forced to evolve."
Lyttle said he hopes Avenza's app can help to facilitate that transition. The app aggregates maps from large organizations such as National Geographic and the United States Geological Survey as well as small mom-and-pop shops for users to pay to view. That way, organizations like MacVan can upload their maps - which can contain hyper-local information that National Geographic may miss - to the database and generate profits from each user.
Lyttle said Avenza also hopes to expand an affiliate program, where retailers like REI will offer a database of locally produced maps for people to pay to download or print off site.
"There are options out there so these mom-and-pop shops can stay afloat, but it's looking like do or die in some cases," Lyttle said.
For Colorado Springs firefighters, print maps designed in-house are crucial to navigating less trafficked parts of the city.
"While digital is our go-to, we still rely on paper maps, since the city is so dynamic and addresses can come in strange," said Fire Department spokesman Capt. Brian Vaughn. "We can hand the map to the guys in the back seat while the front seat navigates with our digital system."