NYT: With Tools on Web, Amateurs Reshape Mapmaking

"James Lamb of Federal Way, Wash., created an online map to illustrate the spread of graffiti in his town and asked other residents to contribute to it. 'Any time you can take data and represent it visually, you can start to recognize patterns and see where you need to put resources,' said Mr. Lamb, whose map now pinpoints, often with photographs, nearly 100 sites that have been vandalized."

According to the New York Times, millions of users on the Internet are using free products from Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to create a fast growing "GeoWeb," an explosion in amateur cartography that some are comparing to the revolution in desktop publishing from twenty years ago. The article suggests that maps will play a growing role in how information is organized and found. Click below to read more or go to the full article.

Already, over 25 million pictures on the photo-sharing site Flickr are “geotagged” providing location data that allows them to be viewed on a map or through 3-D visualization software like Google Earth. Microsoft has created 3-D models of 100 cities worldwide and aims to have 500 models in the next year, and Google Maps allows users to navigate through street level photography in several U.S. cities. Users of a service called MotionBased, a Web site owned by Garmin, the navigation device maker, have used Global Positioning System devices to create more than 1.3 million maps of hikes, runs, and road trips. Since Google launched a new service called My Maps in April users have created more than four million maps ranging from fanciful to practical and simple to complex. Most importantly, improvements are allowing multiple layers of data to be viewed on a single map and Google is working on a search engine that makes it easier to search through all online maps.

One group of students and professors are working on a project that adds photographs, videos and interviews to a map-based project documenting the house-by-house reconstruction of a section of New Orleans. Those designing the project want local residents to contribute. “The hope is that the community will tell the story of its own recovery with the map as the dashboard."


Here's another example of combining photos taken by residents and maps to document neighborhood conditions, in this case, road maintainance around New York City.

A post about it, on Streets Blog:


and the site:

Here's another good example of technology for mapping crime. This tool on the LAPD website lets you map recent "compstat" type data: http://www.lapdcrimemaps.org/
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