Crowd powered maps

mapchat Elizabeth Churchill wrote one of my favourite pieces recently, Maps and Moralities, Blanks and Beasties, about using maps designed for online daters “showing areas of San Francisco in terms of nighttime inhabitation and illumination, aimed at people concerned with being alone at night in deserted places. The map shows which areas of San Francisco are dark and isolated in the evenings”. This is a great abstraction of personal safety through mapping activity. Just as companies like Dash are using a P2P network of other Dash users to build traffic and AirSage uses cellular signals to build traffic predictions and estimations. It’s possible to start building mapping applications for next generation mobile devices. In my favourite part of the article Churchill describes a solution where she "designed a map and route/navigation tool for perambulating San Francisco irrespective of footwear practicality. The map charts routes based on the height and style of your shoes with rules like: Five-inch platform boots should not be worn on steep slopes, and stylish stilettos are a no-no on potholed, grated Mission Street”. You can see her prototypes including MapChat based on current work at Yahoo Research. It’s possible to start building applications that enable individuals to share and use metadata relevant to them to construct safer routes.