A startup enlists locals to help it create better maps of business locations and details.
Most people use mapping apps every day. In addition to finding addresses, many rely on apps, such as Uber, weather apps, or navigation systems, that use embedded base maps. Innovative apps include a mapping platform that works indoors and a mapping tool for cyclists. To create these apps, developers need specific locations or ‘points of interest’ data, such as where to find a Thai restaurant, or where a local hiking trail starts. Services like that who offer this type of data can be expensive. Now, a startup called StreetCred wants to fill in this gap by making that information cheaper and more accurate.
Collecting the necessary information requires a lot of eyes on the ground. Many app developers use OpenStreetMap, a crowdsourced, open-source mapping effort that relies on around 1 million volunteers. However, open source cartography is not specific enough for the customers StreetCred is looking to attract. For example, if a gaming company needs to know the location of every park in Milwaukee, there is no guarantee that volunteers will supply that information.
Instead, StreetCred has started experimenting with offering volunteers cryptocurrency in exchange for their help. They developed a contest, called MapNYC, as an experiment in gamifying mapping. Users compete for cryptocurrency incentives by feeding in specific data. The company then sends the information back to OpenStreetMaps under a licensing agreement which makes it easier for people and companies to share and collaborate when working with data.