In case the region has a three-dimensional nature (3-D, in brief) like a rock island or a city built around and over a hill, the 2-D signage fall short of conveying the complete information.
Please see figure given here. At the traffic intersection shown, there are three roads emerging and all three are turning right. 'U' goes uphill; 'D' comes downhill; while ‘L’ is level. Without words like 'up' and 'down', it is tough to seek and offer guidance. Even the sophisticated GPRS fitted in modern cars is helpless. Intended for planar movement, it is silent on altitude, unless you use the uncommon Google Earth Altitude software or equivalent. To navigate on hills, third parameter, viz. height above the mean sea level, becomes the primary parameter. A common dialogue amongst locals there is something like: “I have to move down daily morning to market for bread.”
Fact is that you are in 3-D domain and any explanation or description of it has to be compulsorily in 3-D lingo. It is mandatory and not optional for communication there. Hence for hill stations, a specialized system of interlinked 3-D signage needs to be envisioned and designed. All hilly terrains globally have common characteristics like cold & foggy weather, frequent precipitation, isolated areas where local people acting as complementary 'inquiry counters' for tourists are sparse, sun-lit & sun-shade sides of the same mountain, etc. The system of signage befitting hills has to cater these needs if it is to be consumer friendly. As a side effect, such signage adds to aesthetic sense and hence can be used as tourism boosters by countries which proudly have mountain ranges to boast off.
Two kinds of signage have been designed by my research work.
(a) 2-D Interlinked Signage
2-D signage displaying the geographical data such as longitude, latitude and altitude, location of neighboring important places and finally conveying the current and forecasted weather conditions can be posited in an array. Miscellaneous data such as possible avalanches, landslides and power breakdowns can also be conveyed to walkers and drivers alike. This individually anchored signage would be inter-communicative as well as linked to a central control room. The control center would have access to satellites, Internet, radio and even volunteering informers living nearby the stationed signage. Please see the figure given.
(b) 3-D Modeled Signage
These are 3-D signage useful and usable only for the 3-D terrain. This signage would in effect be downscaled models of the terrain. They could be prepared by computer-aided -design (CAD) techniques using altitude maps and graphs. The actual manufacturing could be using computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) achieved via CNC machines or even skills of a competent artist. Thus the structure could be curved and carved out automatically or be cast manually. A variety of materials are available these days for what seems to be an architectural modeling of Nature. Miniaturized roads, buildings, trees, railway tracks can be added to the structure. Finally the model can be enclosed in a transparent cage and lighted using solar power. It would be an independent signage not requiring an outside and expensive to distribute power supply. Please see figures given. Online video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZU3T9Ltwvz4
ONAs the plains begin to show bleeding signs of global warming, over-population, noise and air pollution, hill stations would become more important as peaceful weekend recluses for rest, serious study and de-stressing lives. Communication on hills is a specialized science; if not, it should be made one. Customized signage for hills would make living, commuting and trekking simpler on hills.