We had the pleasure of having Jonathan Baldwin stop in at OpenBag. Jonathan presented TidePools, a local mesh network and mapping application. He spoke about its test implementation in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn. TidePools explores how online mapping could be more responsive to local community needs. The thesis is- what would online maps look like if communities controlled the content and choose it’s style?
Jonathan feels that universal, ubiquitous, online maps leave people using the same style and convention to identify their local place and homes. Control of the content is left in a handful of corporation’s hands. What if the control of this mapping information was left in the hands of the community? What if the situation was opposite, if online mapping was a bottom up and decentralized affair? What content would be available, what verbiage would be used, what local information would be communicated, and what visual style would be used?
The solution uses several common tools. TidePools is local wifi mesh network that locally hosts a map built from OpenStreetMap data. This map portal is available over only these wifi spots. The TidePools map communicates local information & interests such as community gardens, party info, business info, but anything map-able could be included. The interface uses artwork inspired and approved by the community. Any type of data, is either pulled in from API’s or community generated. The mesh network is accessible to only those physically near the wifi receivers and communicates to any wifi device, regardless of whether the network or the device has an active Internet connection. Check out the project video.
To be honest, we love this project: it’s inclusive, it’s community building, it’s got a great social mission and, frankly, it’s just cool. Its foundations are open source, utilizing OpenStreetMap, Leaflet, jQuery, MongoDB. Hell, it even taps into some of our initiatives – Open311, MTA Bus Time. Keep it up Jonathan!