Mapping Change

There is no way around the fact that mapping has become an epidemic, in a good way; a central part of modern life in the digital age.

And why shouldn’t it be given people are as inquisitive and busy as ever?

Yet, beyond just saving innocent users from the clutches of a wrong turn, or the distaste of having to settle for pizza when you really want a burger (terrible, we know), mapping’s utility has branched out past the realm of consumer interest and directional assistance, becoming a central cog in helping society’s problem solving machine figure out the bigger, more important “stuff.” Here are some of our favorite examples.

Healthcare

As we all know finding what you’re looking for can be more difficult than initially expected. And making sense of the world around you, especially when you are new to it or viewing it from a far, can be even more difficult.

This is why World Vision, one of the world’s leading nonprofits on poverty and justice, has recruited mapping to help it both connect the dots and inform others about healthcare conditions from around the world. For example, by utilizing mapping data and crowdsourced information about area medical clinics, World Vision has been able to provide not only insight into where facilities are located, but the level of care provided, and which areas are in need of further medical resources.

Re-Greening

Getting out and about is fun…or so it should be which is why students at Stanford are trying to bring people back to the outdoors, and the outdoors back to people.

Through an ongoing data mine of urban green space and audit of surrounding demographic information, Stanford’s City Nature project has created a map resource that not online details where people can go to take in nature in their city, but also which cities and populations need greater access to it.

Safety

Maps have always provided some element of safety. However, digital maps and their quick response time are being put to greater and greater use in hopes of keeping people safe in modern times.

For example, OpenStreetMap, has its own set of safety related stories to tell, and more recently, crowdsourced map safety has gone more mainstream as the Israeli police endorsed and encouraged people to utilize crowdsourced resources such as Waze, as a way to provide assistance to authorities during U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent visit to the country (aka CrowdSource One).

In the end the cliché is true: the world is changing every day. But isn’t it better when you have maps right by your side? :)