Musing about maps and information

We are not far from a time when we will order maps like we order pizza. Confused? Bear with me, humour me for a bit.

Ordnance Survey maps have always been rich in information:

What is shown above is a very UK-centric view, with the Ordnance Survey example. I’m sure there are equally good examples all over the world. However, most such maps seem to provide information that is primarily directed at the hiker, the trekker, the cyclist, the wanderer.

I’ve never driven a car. Which means I’ve used a lot of public transport over the years. We have three wonderful children. We like visiting places, both urban and rural. And there have been times, many times, when I’ve wanted better information on a map. Information like “Which are the tube stations where carrying pushchairs is easy?” ” Where is the nearest clean toilet with baby-changing facilities?” “Where is the nearest place we can get some water and some fruit?” Information that pertained to the carless childfull urban public-transport-using parent.

My children are well past their pushchair times. But my pushchair times are not up yet, nor are my urban-warrior-with-child times: in less than a decade I expect to be a grandfather. Which is why I was delighted to see this:

One of the key advantages of today’s technologies is that custom delivery of information is possible cheaply and efficiently. So soon I can imagine I will be ordering maps like pizza:

  • Manhattan base
  • Deep pan
  • Include toilets and ice cream parlors
  • Exclude one way systems
  • Add extra parks and playgrounds
  • To go.

You get my drift. Thanks to Euan for the tweet: — the place you want to go to when you want to go — ’nuff said.

5 thoughts on “Musing about maps and information”

  1. I think the difference between ordering maps and pizza is that you don’t have to pay for the former. :)

    The critical issue for “maps” providers is to find a smart business model to get paid.

  2. The “branded utility” model immediately comes to mind Jason. Provide maps to businesses who provide them to their customers as an adjunct to their product/service. Businesses will pay because the maps will generate greater customer satisfaction and thus repeat business.

Let me know what you think

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