SXSW 2010: Augmenting Maps with Reality

Sunday, March 14, 2010 9:30am
Ryan Sarver, Twitter
Laura Diaz, Navteq
Kellen Elliott-McCrea, Flickr
Dennis Crowley, Foursquare
Chris Pendleton, Bing

Session Description

Remember when the utility of an online map consisted of directions and gawking at satellite imagery? With the recent tide of location-based apps such as Foursquare and the introduction of the likes of Twitter Maps, maps is rapidly emerging as the gateway to socially exploring the world around us. But that’s not all. In this future focused discussion, we’ll explore the rise of maps as a social platform and it’s potential beyond. This panel is sponsored by Microsoft Bing.


As maps are getting more and more detailed at representing specific landmarks and buildings, what if we could project that further and represent rooms within buildings? The problem with this is there isn’t much public data for this type of information.

Another thing Crowley references was venues for events. How do you know how large the venue actually was to compare the attendance?

Another downfall is the way map data is updated and then released back to the public. Right now it’s a very manual process when updating streets, locations, directions, etc. No one mentioned any solution for this, aside from it’s just going to be socially constructed based on multiple feeds all coming together to make this happen. To me, this sounds kind of messy and inaccurate.

In the foursquare app there isn’t a map where there are clusters of people representing where people are. However, they have just recently added the “trending places” section which allows people to have a mental picture of where everyone is. All the data is there, but it just becomes a factor of representing it to a presentation layer.

The concept of “Bush-craft” is the idea where locals and people who have went there know about the good places to go.

There are quite a few open source map projects, but there still needs to be better ways where the end users can become the experts to where they live.

Questions and Answers

Have you seen any interesting data streams lately?
Twitter has a geo-tag feed. Flickr has a public listing of geo-tagged photos. Foursquare has a log of the last 3 months of your friends activity. Geonames and PublicBlock are also good sources.

The GPS on our phones is limited to a radius circle, so how can we get better accuracy? Is there anything coming out?
ComLab and Cisco are both working on things such as that. Skynet also is working on combining GPS and Wi-Fi. The problem is you need 3 or 4 satellites for lock-on, but in most cases you’ll only have 2. So being able to connect those two with Wi-Fi would be a huge potential.

More Information

8-bit Map of New York

Posted in Geeky, SXSW 2010.

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