Thursday, November 19, 2009

Community Mapping

Tuesday's New York Times had an article on the growing involvement of ordinary citizens in the task of making maps. The openness of Google's mapping system and the growing volume of software that seeks to take advantage of it are transforming the map making industry. The article compares this collaborative effort at map making to the early days of Wikipedia (and we all know how successful that has become).

Although it's not produced by individual volunteers, a newly available feature on the website of the Lowell Police Department illustrates how the democratization of this technology will benefit everyone. The LPD has used mapping software (projected onto the Google base maps) to plot the incidence of crime in the city. Now anyone with a computer can access the website and what types of crimes are happening how often and where. (A screen shot of the LPD crime map is shown above).

Here at the registry, we've long seen our data as a potential gold mine for this kind of mapping process. Unfortunately, some of the parties necessary to making that a reality have been slow to see the benefits. Now that mapping of this type seems to be gaining widespread momentum, we hope to make our efforts at mapping a reality.

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