Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tonight: Free Presentation at UofL Honors Lecture Series

Metro Mapper will be making a free and open to the public presentation tonight at UofL. The fun starts at 7pm. See our previous post for more event details.

Here is a detailed overview of what I will be speaking about at the event. You can print it out beforehand, or I'll have copies on hand tonight so you can follow along, know what to expect, and take notes for questions.

PDF of Presentation (PDF)

UPDATE: We tried to live stream the event, courtesy Nick Moorman, but some technical issues prevented it from working out.


Biography – Michael Schnuerle: Louisville, UK, Australia, Paris, Edinburgh, San Fran, Louisville

Technology – Convergence and new tech 2005: Map APIs, Ajax, Hosting Costs, Open Source

The Metro Mapper Site

Site Overview – types of maps, daily traffic, updates

Cool Examples – filtering, historic overlays (UofL)

Services – free to public, account, bookmarks, embedding free and paid

Revenue – ads, sponsoring, consulting, custom work, embedding, collaboration (PVA)

History – 2005 technologies, city crime, other data, embedding, full time

Career Path – Computer Graphics, 2 years abroad, Big/Small Companies, Independent

Technical Overview – PHP, MySQL, Data -> Convert -> Site -> Embed

Tools Used – Photoshop, Dreamweaver, MySQL Administrator, SmartSVN, WinSCP

The Your Mapper Prototype

Site Preview – logo, interface, maps

Key Differences – National, browsing, tools, data loading, social media, mobile

Open Data - Open Municipal Geodata Data Standard

The Future of Online Maps

Google Earth – Exporting data into a 3D environment, 3D cities, 1:1 correlations.

Mobile Tools – iPhone, Google Android, GPS, ubiquity

Location Based Tools - Connecting where you are to useful information, social

Data Loading – Making public data truly public

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Municipal Partnership: Jefferson County PVA and Metro Mapper

We've launched a new map as part of a partnership with the Jefferson County PVA. We've put all of their property values on an interactive map that is embedded on their site. There is also a version on our Metro Mapper site.

It's a perfect example of working with existing government data, and creating an interactive map for the government agency's site. It's going to keep people coming back to their site, and gain a whole new following of people that find the Metro Mapper site then see the property value map. I think it’s really going to improve the way people search for information, and raise everyone’s expectations for what the government should be providing to citizens.

Here is the full press release text from the PVA:

Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator, Tony Lindauer, announced today another enhancement to the PVA award winning website. All property parcel values across Jefferson County will be viewable on a free interactive map.

The new service supplements the existing address search, since it allows citizens to see the property values around them at-a-glance without having to know the neighboring street names.

A citizen can enter any address or street and see the closest parcels. A marker for each parcel will show a popup with useful information, including the property and land value, owner name, date assessed, parcel thumbnail, and type of property. The popup will include a link to the subscription web service, which gives even more detailed information on property.

The new service will be available on Monday, October 27, 2008. Lindauer said the interactive maps, similar to Google Maps, will be more user friendly in accessing snapshot information for each parcel.

Michael Schnuerle, of Louisville Metro Mapper, who designed the enhancement for the website, said: “It’s great that the Jefferson County PVA is constantly improving the website. This visual mapping tool will make browsing for property information much easier. “

To facilitate the data exchange, the PVA is using the open data format called the OMG Standard.

Metro Mapper at UofL Honors Lecture Series, Oct 29

I will be speaking at the University of Louisville Honors Lecture Series Wednesday, Oct 29, 2008 at 7pm.

I'll talk about maps, demo the current Metro Mapper site, give a technical overview of how it was made, show some cool maps and data, preview the new Your Mapper national prototype, discuss mobile location-based tools, speculate on the future of online maps, and take any questions.

And I'll discussing my big announcement from this coming Monday.

Before the event, post some questions here and I'll incorporate them into the presentation!

Become a fan of Metro Mapper on Facebook and RSVP to the event so they know how many seats to have. Space is pretty limited since it's in a classroom: RSVP for Event

Map of Estcorn Honors Center at Threlkeld Hall's Location on Campus:

Thanks to the student organizers for putting it all together:
  • Greer Waldrop
  • Venkat Ramakrishnan
  • Greg Shaw
  • Amruth krishnamurty
  • Michael Miao
Parking - For off campus people, you can use the Floyd St Parking garage, which costs a bit before 7, but after 7 is free. Also after 7, you can park on the streets in the area without worrying about being ticketed. I know the even starts at 7, but you should be alright if you arrive just before 7.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Idea Festival Wrap-up: 5 Blog Posts

The third Louisville Idea Festival is now over, and it was a fantastic trip through architecture, video games, mobile phones, ninjas, word games, the Berlin Wall, and Aliens vs Predators.  I was able to blog 5 of the Idea Festival events, take a few photos, Twitter live updates, and a few location-based concepts.

Here are my five posts:
The fest is over for this year, and I'm sure it will be coming back stronger than ever next year.  If you'd like more general recaps, check out:

Thanks to Wayne Hall, the official IF blogger, and Michelle Jones at Consuming Louisville for coordinating the bloggers.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

University of Kentucky Alumni Class Notes

Some people have brought to my attention that the Fall 2008 Kentucky Alumni magazine printed a small update about me in the class notes area. I contacted them and they said they compiled it from a clipping service that picked it up from the Courier-Journal article back in April.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in. Here's the cover.

Live-blogging Louisville Idea Festival 2008

For the September 25-27 Idea Festival held in Louisville, Kentucky, I'll be one of the 5 local people to be live blogging events on the official Idea Festival Blog. The blog is still being run by Wayne Hall, and this year he enlisted some blogging help with the assistance of Michelle Jones over at Consuming Louisville.

I'll officially be blogging these three events:

Thursday, Sept 25, 1pm
Puzzled? by Will Shortz
The puzzle editor for the New York Times, talking about the world of puzzles.

Friday, Sept 26, 1pm
A danish architect who will speak about city planning and future city structures.

Saturday, Sept 27, 8:45am
Serious Play by Jane McGonigal
A video game designer who will talk about the power of games, virtual worlds, and how they affect our society and the future.

I'll also post back here to let you know when these events are upcoming and going on. And I invite everyone in the area to come to the Festival and see some of the speakers and events, most of which are free. Come hunt me down and say hello, since the Press Pass I have will also allow me into all the other events. Thanks Michelle and Wayne!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Ryder Cup 2008 Map - Events around Louisville

We've joined forces again with to bring you all of the Louisville area events from The Cup Experience relating to the 2008 Ryder Cup and put them on an interactive map.

Ryder Cup 2008 Map - Events around Louisville

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Interesting Maps: Wood Bowls and 3-D Photos

Maps seem to be cropping up in the oddest, and most interesting, of places. Wired has pointed out a few of these in their newest issue.

Wooden Map Bowls

So you can go to a German site, use the Google Maps API to zoom in on your state, city, neighborhood, or favorite national park, and turn the topography into a wooden 'bowl.' I put bowl in quotes because the functional, bowl-like qualities of the finished product will vary greatly depending on your chosen location.

Fluid Forms has created a very interesting concept, that is well exectued. Try it out!
3-D National Park Images

Three dimensional movies are becoming more common in an effort to lure people into theaters. Now you can experience this in your own home.

You can either purchase a $15,000 Vizard 3-D display, or make your own at home for about $300. Then head over to the US Geological Survey website to view lots of classic and new 3-D pics of national parks. I couldn't find any actual 3-D maps though...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

University of Kentucky Students Compete in Google's 3D Campus

The results for Google's 3D campus competition are now in, with nine international campuses winning out of 81. The winners seem to have been picked based on quality of the models and going the extra mile.

The most number of building modeled by any winner was 61, while the students at University of Kentucky modeled 322 buildings! Wow. UK did not place in the winners, but I have been admiring the students' effort for a while now.

Congrats to UK for their efforts and some stellar work! It looks like other universities in the state did not participate, including the University of Louisville.

Go ahead and find your university and download it into Google Earth to view the campus in 3D.

Download UK's campus here.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Impact of Maps on Crime - Atlantic Montly Shows How Sharing Crime Data Leads to Action

In the newest July 2008 issue of Atlantic Monthly, contributing editor Hanna Rosin tackles the question "Why is crime rising in so many mid-sized American cities?"

The answer was discovered when the police shared their data with someone who created a visual map (seen in the print magazine) of the problem. The North Memphis police shared their crime data with University of Memphis criminologist Richard Janikowski, and he turned that data into an answer.

He’d built up enough trust with the police to get them to send him daily crime and arrest reports, including addresses and types of crime. He began mapping all violent and property crimes, block by block, across the city. “These cops on the streets were saying that crime patterns are changing,” he said, so he wanted to look into it.

By sharing their data, the police were able to let a private citizen create a tool for them, and obtain new information in the process. It was a win-win situation, and a great reason for government data transparency.

When his map was complete, a clear if strangely shaped pattern emerged... Hot spots had proliferated since the mid-1990s, and little islands of crime had sprung up where none had existed before, dotting the map all around the city...

What he came up with ended up showing a correlation between new Section8 housing and crime, a very unpopular and controversial result, and something not intuitively discoverable.

Janikowski merged his computer map of crime patterns with [a] map of Section8 rentals... On the merged map, dense violent-crime areas are shaded dark blue, and Section8 addresses are represented by little red dots. All of the dark-blue areas are covered in little red dots, like bursts of gunfire. The rest of the city has almost no dots.

Most of the article deals with the implication of this outcome and how to handle it, and the complex socio-economic issues it raises.

On a side note, our Louisville police chief also got involved, and a University of Louisville professor was looking at these patterns too.

The “Gathering Storm” report that worried over an upcoming epidemic of violence was inspired by a call from the police chief of Louisville, Kentucky, who’d seen crime rising regionally and wondered what was going on. Simultaneously, the University of Louisville criminologist Geetha Suresh was tracking local patterns of violent crime.
It's great to see such a terrific outcome come from the sharing of public data and is just the sort of thing the OMG Standard is trying to accomplish. A success story, but it only came because of the years of trust that Janikowski garnered by working with the local police full time. Months or years could have been shaved off the timeline if the data was made easily available to the public from the beginning.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

List of Interesting Street View Sites in Louisville

Here are some interesting places in Louisville, Kentucky.

Churchill Downs
Louisville Slugger Museum
Center for the Arts and Humana Building
Louisville skyline from JFK Bridge
WHY Louisville Store
Ye Olde Lava House
Cherokee Triangle Castleman Statue
Entering Cave Hill Cemetery
Distillery Commons
Fair and Expo Center
University of Louisville
Largest White Castle in the World
EP Tom Sawyer State Park Pool
UPS Airport Hub
Waterfront Park from I-64 (see
Dog Hill in Cherokee Park

Please add your own links in the comments below!

The blue lines in this map show the coverage area.

Google Maps Mania Lists "Your Mapper" in Best of 2008!

The Your Mapper project is listed in the Google Maps Mania blog as the best of 2008, as a project that

Google Maps Mania: Google Maps Mashup Award Winners!

"Collectively, these mashups have been widely recognized as game changing web concepts that have helped to bring geographic relevancy to millions of points of information."

Google Street View for Louisville, Finally!

Alright, this is going to freak a lot of you out, but contrary to local and national reports, Google has updated their street view for Louisville and Lexington Kentucky!

Bardstown Rd and Highland Ave

So now you can see buildings, streets and people for almost any place in the city.

In addition, they have added all the following cities:
  • MA: Springfield
  • NY: Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse
  • NJ: Newark
  • VA: Virginia Beach
  • NC: Charlotte, Winston-Salem
  • SC: Columbia, Greenville
  • GA: Atlanta
  • FL: Boca Raton, Cape Coral, Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Sarasota, West Palm Beach
  • AL: Huntsville
  • MS: Jackson
  • TN: Knoxville
  • KY: Lexington, Louisville
  • OH: Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo
  • MI: Ann Arbor
  • MO: St. Louis
  • KS: Topeka
  • NE: Lincoln
  • OK: Oklahoma City, Tulsa
  • NV: Reno
  • CA: Bakersfield, Fresno, Sacramento, Stockton
Look for it to appear in our maps soon!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Your Mapper - NetSquared Conference Report (Part 2)

The NetSquared Year 3 conference in San Jose was a fantastic blast, and I wanted to share some of my experience with you all.

Ben Peskoe and I left for the conference on Monday afternoon May 27, and arrived in San Jose Monday night. We stayed at the Hilton in Santa Clara which was near the Yahoo campus, and as soon as we checked in and took a look at the view, we were off to the Meet and Greet event.

NetSquared had drink tickets and a small buffet waiting, and we started meeting some of the organizers we'd talked to or heard about, like Jennie Frohmann, Billy Bicket, and Daniel Ben-Horin. We started meeting some of the other project people and participants, like Ask Your Lawmaker, Know More, and Benji from

We retired to the hotel lounge and chatted some more with great folks like Georget Lajtai and Zoli Piroska (two Hungarians from Greener One), Christine Egger and Peter Deitz (from Social Actions), John Kim and Peter Manzo of Map This!, and the Scotsman Thomas Turnbull from My Green Map.

Then next Tuesday morning was the start of the conference, and we met Matthew Saunders from PingVision who was giving a speech on Drupal, and Sean Tanner of on the bus over to the Cisco Conference Center. Ben and I setup, making sure our branding and marketing was clearly visible to all. Our Project Lead, Ted Ko, shows up and helps us get ready, and sets up a 19" LCD that he brought so we could show the site.

Lots of people were intrigued by he story of the community designed logo through the site 99Designs, and thought it meshed well with the community aspects of the Your Mapper concept. We used the logo a lot, and I think everyone was familiar with it by the end of the conference. I'm surprised more projects did not show off their project through t-shirts (from Kopilot), logo, and branding. I think Know More was the only other project with shirts.

So the conference begins, and I think everyone is still writing their 2-minute speech or is just going to wing it. Mine is towards the end and seems to get lots of people over to our table for the Carnival, tradeshow-like event next. Here the three of us talk to a non-stop barrage of people and unfortunately don't have time to talk to everyone that comes by. Some of the people include Rob Miller with the Open Planning Project who is doing some great open map stuff, Tantek Celik who shows me the benefits of hCard, and Andrew Turner and Mikel Maron at mapufacture who are creating tools to load and manage geographic data and who have a neat logo too. To top it off Roselind Newland stops by, who works for TechSoup but is originally from the Louisville KY are and wants to return some day. Chad Dickerson from Yahoo stopped by to talk about his Fire Eagle, and David Collin from the American Cancer Society was interested in our OMG Standard.

After the Carnival and other speeches are over, we break for a terrific lunch outdoors, with Vegetarian and Omnivore lines. Then the three project panel discussions begin, along with other speakers, and will continue until lunch on Wednesday. We watch the first panel discussion, then I head out to a session on "Getting the Most Out of Your Online Community" then to the Hack Room, then the Drupal presentation.

In between sessions Ben and I do an impromptu video interview, which you can watch here:

Scott Dyer finally shows up from Louisville after a flight delay, and he joins the Your Mapper team, ready to shine and show his enthusiasm for the project. Ted heads home, and we go back to the hotel for a night of dinner, drinks and entertainment. The dinner is great, and I finally get to talk with Justin Massa of about the Illinois IDEA initiative and share some of my successes here in Louisville.

At dinner I talk with JD Lasica from Ourmedia, who is very interested in the OMG Standard and writes for the IdeaLab blog on, and knows Steven Clift from whom I talked with a few days ago on the phone. JD later interviews me and records this great little video interview and blog post.

Next I talk with Laura Welcher from the mind-blowing Long Now Foundation and the Rosetta Stone project. We discussed her project, and all things map related, including time-based diachronic maps, and the inherent difficulty of showing lots of overlapping regions on maps.

The final day started on Wednesday with a tale of Scott's 5 am trip into the mountains to watch the sunrise. All four of us donned their Your Mapper tshirts for the day and we headed to the conference. I headed to Benji Burrell's presentation of the website and I have to say it was one of the most impressive presentations and uses of technology at the entire conference. I spent the next session writing my 7 minute panel speech, which began at 11:20am. This setup was much more comfortable to me, and I told a few stories and answered some questions along with two other projects: Rosetta Stone and Social Actions.

We had a quick lunch while I sweated the final 2-minute speech, and decided this time to just write an outline of key points and speak more off the cuff. I think it went pretty well.

The final presentations were next, then the voting block. Every attendee got 3 coins that they could use to vote for any number of the 21 projects. We fielded a few more questions at our Your Mapper table from Allison Bradley at SoulMilk and Meagan Hessel at the Charter Association and My Schools.

The vote results then came quickly, with first place deservedly going to Ushahidi. After that we wrapped things up, said goodbye to Ted, then headed to the In and Out Burger (those are good burgers) for a celebratory dinner. Scott left us for the airport, Ben and I were back at the hotel, and spent a little time using the hotel amenities. We chatted some more with the attendees, then got ready for our all-day flight back to Louisville.

It was a great conference and I was pleased just to be a part of it, making new connections and learning a lot about this trail-blazing space we are all occupying. Now back to my topophilia.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Your Mapper - NetSquared Conference Report (Part 1)

We just got back from the NetSquared N2Y3 Conference in San Jose and had an incredible experience meeting some extraordinary people. The depth and breadth of the projects in the competition was amazing and we were honored to be part of it all. Your Mapper did not win the top prize, which went to a terrific project called Ushahidi, which maps violence though cell phone reports in Kenya.

I'll post a more detailed and full report of the conference details, attendees, and connections we made on Monday. For now, you can read about it all with NetSquared's coverage.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Your Mapper Project Interview by Ted Ko

Ted Ko, my NetSquared Project Lead, interviewed me about Your Mapper and its social impact.
Full Project Interview

Some of the questions included:
  • What're the top 3 social benefits you see resulting from the Your Mapper project?
  • Do you feel that this project is the kind of thing where people begin to benefit immediately or it needs to reach a certain scale or tipping point before it makes a real difference to people?
  • What would you say are the top 3 reasons why this project is going to succeed?
  • How will this project contribute to the "tech for social benefit" space?
  • How will it help other developers and non-profits use the latest tech for positive impact?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Open Municipal Geodata Standard Organization Website

I'd like to announce a new website that I'm starting up called The Open Municipal Geodata Standard Organization Website, or OMG Standard for short, at The idea behind it is to have an open forum to discuss and collaborate on how to involve governments to effectively release their public data to communities.

The goals at the moment are to:
1 create an open standard for the structuring of municipal data
2 convince governments it's in their best interest to make the data easily available
3 provide tools to let this happen efficiently

I've been thinking about this for a while but was spurred into action by the discovery of a few similar pushes on the internet, the participation in the NetSquared contest, and by Ben Peskoe, a fellow entrepreneur who coined the name "Open Municipal Geodata Standard." Metro Mapper is based on the idea of collecting public data, turning it into a map, publishing the map online, and allowing citizens to view, interact with, and share the data in an appealing way. One major difficulty is in the manner in which the data is obtained.

Some municipal datasets are available online, but this is pretty rare. Even if they available online, the format is difficult to deal with, the data is incomplete, or it's hard to make sense of the data once you have it. Most of the time though, the data is locked up in an old internal database that only one expert person can get to, and finding that person can be difficult. Usually that involves mailing some sort of non-electronic information request, which may or may not be granted, and even it if it is granted, it could take a long time due to limited resource and other priorities. Then you have the issue of getting updates later.

It's not that municipal governments don't want to get the data out to the public, it's more a matter of time, limited staff, budget cuts, and larger priorities. Most people working in the public sector are acutely aware of the problems with their system, but don't know how or can't change it even though they would like to.

So what's the ideal solution? I think it's to help out governments by telling them what would be the biggest benefit to their citizens, giving them a road map for execution, helping them execute, and showing how it can reduce costs in the long run and benefit the community. The result would be digital data feeds on government websites that would contain downloadable information for free.

Luckily some smart people have already started working on this problem. Illinois has an organization called Illinois Data Exchange Affiliates (IDEA) that has similar goals and has had some success. The Sunlight Foundation works to create government transparency and recently had a very successful 'Open Government Working Group' with Google and Yahoo where they produced 8 Principles of Open Data. Sunlight also created to create the Transparency in Government Act of 2008 which aims to bring more national government information online. Every Block (a journalistic project like Metro Mapper) is also a part of this movement and has an interesting blog post about the topic. There is also an active Open Government Google Group which discusses some of these issues. And seeks to advance the public's right to know and to reduce secrecy in government.

Where does the OMG Standard fit in? I think it could work in conjunction with some of the above organizations, but with a more specific national goal of helping state and municipal governments publish their public data in a certain format on their websites. Obviously this would benefit Metro Mapper, which in turn would benefit the community. But I also think it is a benefit to the local governments.

For now, think about these issues and start a discussion in the comments below. Soon I'll be putting up a starting point on the OMG Standard website, where we can collaborate on these issues, and you can become a member.

We Have a Winner on the Logo Contest

I've just awarded the prize to for his submission of logo #158 . Congrats! Thanks to everyone who talked with me or sent me messages about the designs they liked. It was really helpful to get some community feedback for this.

His logo won because of some very simple ideas that he came up with that lent themselves well to the site. One is the use of the bendy Y person in a previous design, and the use of the little smile in the winning design. Also the faded blast radius target element is really great for showing importance to things that are close to the user, without looking too much like a bullseye. I'll hopefully work with him to finalize the design into a finished logo for the site.

I'd like to thank the other designers that participated. In addition to giving credit to on the final site for his logo, I'd also like to credit on the site some of the other designers for some great ideas, especially helio brazil, wired iris, pacmanb, netso, and year_ago_today. Some parts of them might be turned into icons on the site even though they are not in the logo.

Thanks to 99designs for a great site and service. I was really amazed at the number of submissions and the quality of the designer's work. It made it difficult to make a final decision, that's for sure!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Logo Contest Over - Decision Today

The logo contest is over for our new national site, Your Mapper. Take a look at the entries and let us know what you think here.

Although we have to pick just one, the final logo might incorporate some of the elements or colors of the other logos, so feel free to let us know how you would 'mix and match' things.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Contest: Design Our New Logo and Win $150!

A Crowdsource Design Site for a Crowdsource Mapping Site Logo

For the Your Mapper project, we decided to use an existing site to "crowdsource" the design of our logo. This means that we are starting up a paid contest to determine our logo. Anyone can contribute a design for free, everyone can vote for and comment on the designs, and to the winner goes $150 in cash!

Since our new site and service, Your Mapper, will be a community contribution data driven site, it's only fitting that we put our money where our mouth is an let the community decide on our new logo. We are using a site called 99Designs for the contest, since it has a great community of talented designers, and they've created some very interesting logos quickly.

Contest Link:

We need the logo quickly, so the contest is only on for 3 days, and is over this Friday afternoon. For the next three days, people will be submitting designs and we will be commenting on and grading them along with the rest of the community. Everyone can build upon existing ideas and come up with something terrific.

I especially welcome everyone in the Louisville and Kentucky areas to submit their ideas, or at least vote and comment on what is submitted. And if you are outside the area, please participate as well - it's open to everyone.

To the contest winner we will give $150, credit on the new site, and a web link back to the designer's web page.

We see this as another great new media experiment (like our Twitter experiment) and hope that it works out for everyone. Get started now!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Louisville Courier-Journal Writes First Full Article About Metro Mapper

Louisville's newspaper, the Courier-Journal, wrote their first full article about Metro Mapper on the front page of the Business section. It's a great distillation of about three hours of interview with the reporter, Bill Wolfe.

It's great to finally get some local coverage for the site. The first map launched over 2 years ago, and the site officially launched a year ago. No news coverage, except for some excellent local blogs (Forge Louisville and Consuming Louisville), until now. I think I got coverage because of doing something outside of Louisville, namely the NetSquared contest.

I talked to a local friend of mine who said the same thing about his company: 2 years of great stuff, no coverage, one national blurb, then the C-J covers it, then after that Leo and other smaller news outlets and TV.

It's great that the Courier (at least anecdotally) seems to cover a good local company first, but strange that other publications wait for that to happen.

Anyway, Metro Mapper is grateful for the coverage and hope there will be more to report in the future! Thanks Bill!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Google Shows Historic Traffic on Maps

Google just added the ability to look at typical traffic on a particular day and time, in addition to live traffic. It's really an incredible feature. You can zoom into the city you want to look at, then choose any day of the week, and any time from 5am to 9pm to see what the historic traffic pattern has been.

Here's an animated image I put together that shows the traffic around Louisville for a typical Wednesday:

It's like magic!

Looks like traffic delays start around 6:30am, clear up, then there are issues from lunch till about 6:30pm, at which point it clears up. Try it out for yourself!

Twitter and the Illinois Earthquake - Local Louisville Reports

It’s interesting the progression of how news and information got out right after the earthquake.

Twitter users were first to have confirmed details and links, even beating the blogs.

Blogs came next, some with concrete details even before local news stations would confirm it.

Radio seemed to have confirmed things next, notably NPR and WAMZ.

Local TV stations were next, confirming the quake and then showing images from links that bloggers and Twitter users posted 30 minutes prior.

National stations were last to pick it up. CNN even showed a map of the epicenter about the “Illinois Earthquake,” but then showed it alongside video footage of the fallen bricks at 309 W Kentucky St in Louisville, KY.

Of course live TV and radio showed the earthquake first, but it’s odd that it took so long to confirm it, considering that info is made available in real-time on the USGS website.

At the risk of being Spammy, here's some highlights from my own Twitter Stream for all to peruse. In order from oldest to newest.

Todd Earwood - @saftetyguy1656 I was thinking earthquake too - from web

Patrickometry - Just experienced a slight earthquake in Shepherdsville, Kentucky?!? .. we are on the New Madrid Fault!! local news also reporting same. - from twhirl

Thomas - @earwood What the hell was that? Just woke up everybody in the house. Creepy. My first thought was earthquake as well. - from web in reply to tlosbo

Todd Earwood - @tlosbo I can't find anywhere online that confirms it, but it woke us up too - from web in reply to tlosbo

Metro Mapper - Earthquake!! About 10 minutes ago. - from ThinCloud

JasonFalls - @tlosbo @earwood Yeah, I'm thinking an earthquake just hit. My whole house was chattering. - from web in reply to tlosbo

Todd Earwood - WHAS TV says it's an earthquake - from web

JasonFalls - @metromapper Is that an earthquake confirmation? - from im in reply to metromapper

JasonFalls - @MikeG1 And @earwood says local ABC affilate is reporting it. - from im in reply to MikeG1

Todd Earwood - WAVE3 said it was felt further North from us, everyone ok? - from web

Todd Earwood - AP from Indy confirmed it's an earthquake. Holy cow WAVE3 just rolled footage of the camera and lights shaking - from web

Metro Mapper - Looks like about a 5.4 earthquake at 5:37 EST - from Netvibes

JasonFalls - Here's a map - (thanks @metromapper) - from im

Todd Earwood - @davejohnston yes, there are 8+ of us awake in Louisville, KY and AP confirmed it's an earthquake - from web in reply to davejohnston

JasonFalls - @metromapper says 5.4 earthquake at 5:37 a.m. ET - from im in reply to metromapper

Todd Earwood - @davejohnston retweet from @metromapper Looks like about a 5.4 earthquake at 5:37 EST - from web in reply to davejohnston

Todd Earwood - @toddand did you feel that too? We did in Louisville, KY. A 5.4 earthquake at 5:37 EST - from web in reply to toddand

Metro Mapper - Exact location of earthquake on a map: - from Netvibes

Todd Earwood - @tannerhobin yep, we felt it in Louisville, KY Looks like about a 5.4 earthquake at 5:37 EST - from web in reply to TannerHobin

Todd Earwood - @sheigl yes. check this out from @metromapper A 5.4 earthquake at 5:37 EST - from web in reply to sheigl

JasonFalls - @toddand 5.4 - from im in reply to toddand

Todd Earwood - man, if there ever was a time for TwitterLocal it's now. Man, there are a lot of people on here locally - from web

JasonFalls - I"m watching to see when they actually have it. Almost 30 minutes now and nothing. - from im

JasonFalls - For those just logging on after 6 a.m. wake ups, a 5.4 earthquake between Louisville and St. Louis. No news covering it online yet. Twit ... ... - from im

JasonFalls - Again, the map from the USGS (thanks @metromapper) - from im

Ben Thomas - I'm loving the twitter coverage. - from twitterrific

Joe Hayden, Realtor - @earwood Interesting possibilities for emergency preparedness / disaster coordination w/Twitter. - from web in reply to JoeHayden

Metro Mapper - Mark your location and earthquake description on this map! Pass it around. - from Netvibes

JasonFalls - Stat map from self-reporters (thanks @Finucane) #earthquake - from im

JasonFalls - Approximately 40 minutes after #earthquake, still nothing. - from im

Ben Thomas - @jasonfalls NPR has had some coverage. - from twitterrific

Ben Thomas - 309 W. Kentucky, partial building collapse. - from twitterrific

JasonFalls -'s banner - "An earthquake of magnitude 5.4 rattles Illinois" - no links. Way to be, journalists! Heh. - from im

Ben Thomas - 309 W. Kentucky, not a collapse but debris fell onto street. - from twitterrific

Metro Mapper - Blog post about #earthquake - from Netvibes

Metro Mapper - From @bdthomas "309 W. Kentucky, not a collapse but debris fell onto street." Added to map: - from Netvibes

Metro Mapper - Some Louisville #earthquake Reports by ZIP: - from Netvibes

JasonFalls - Before I go. Need to publicly out CNN. Their story says "updated 24 minutes ago" at 6:45 a.m. Bullshit. See my Twitter stream. Now they' ... ... - from im

Todd Earwood - local client just called me geeky for turning to Twitter for earthquake info. I tried to explain how it beat the TV station - from web

Earthquake Map - Mapping the Illinois Earthquake from Louisville Kentucky

At around 5:37am EST Louisville Kentucky was hit by a mild earthquake, a 5.4, with the epicenter about 117 miles west of Louisville in Illinois.

Here's a map of the location, which you can contribute to. Do a search for your address, add a marker, and type a description of what it was like for you!

Metro Mapper Collaborative Map

Official USGS map

USGS Full Details

Report your experience to USGS

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Louisville PVA Uses Metro Mapper for Their First Featured Link

The Louisville PVA (Property Valuation Administrator) has put Metro Mapper on its homepage as the first Featured Link. The site gets millions of hits per month and will increase Metro Mapper's exposure in Kentucky and the Jefferson County area. Scroll down to see it.

Their site is run by Leap Frog Interactive and the current PVA is Tony Lindauer. Thanks Tony!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Twitter's Impact on the NetSquared Contest - $5 Well Spent

I believe that Twitter played a significant role in my success in NetSquared's mashup contest. For the uninitiated, Twitter is a micro-blogging tool that allows you to send out short messages to whoever wants to hear them. People the follow Metro Mapper on Twitter get updates on what I am doing on a professional and personal level, and have access to links and ideas that don't make it into this blog.

One way I got the word out about the contest was by using Twitter to post lots of announcements about the voting. And people who followed me on Twitter posted about the contest, which got their own group of users on the case.

NetSquared has not released the voting numbers, but based on the difficulty of the voting process, I wouldn't be surprised if I won with less than 200 votes total. Twitter is likely a large percentage of that number.

But the tipping point might have been Jason Fall's 2000th tweet about voting for Metro Mapper in the contest. He jokingly proposed pimping out his 2000th tweet for $5, and I took him up on the experiment!

Here's a list of all the ways I got the word out about the contest. Each method got some number of eyes on the contest, and each propagated the word, somewhat virally, to people outside of the initial contact method.

Email, Phone, or In Person:
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Colleagues

Fully Digital Announcements:

And, the only paid form of getting the word out, $5 to Jason Falls for his 2000th Tweet:
  • Jason Fall's Twitter followers

Since Jason had about 700 followers, even if a only a small percentage voted, it would have made a big difference. He posted a detailed blog entry about the process, and sparked a great debate on the monetization of Twitter and the potential for paid advertising and sponsorship.

Thanks to the Twitter community for helping out Metro Mapper.

If you followed Jason or I on Twitter, and voted, please leave a short comment here so I can track and thank you. Jason's post generated a number of great comments.

I've also posted this same article on my NetSquared Project Blog so other projects can see the impact of Twitter and other ways I got the word out.

Monday, April 07, 2008

New Customer: Joe Hayden, Realtor

Joe Hayden just launched one of our free embedded maps in his real estate site. He's starting of with the restaurant map as a service to his visitors, generating site traffic and interest, and he set it all up himself using our online toolset.

Joe's Restaurant Map

Joe's been doing some terrific things on the internet, improving his current site, and creating a well thought out and informative companion blog. He also has a good handle on the power of a good blog, rss feeds, relevant keywords and SEO, and a great MLS search tool, not to mention terrific knowledge of real estate and the market!

Joe has had a number of great suggestions for Metro Mapper's embedded map service, and we are looking into implementing them. He also has an interesting career background, from flying planes to recording engineer on everything from George Jones to the Muppets!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Metro Mapper Turns Two

Happy Birthday to Metro Mapper! We've been live for 2 years now, after launching on March 30, 2006. Here's a link back to some of our first posts after the launch:

We've come a long way since those days, and I hope this year brings about all the big changes and expansion that everyone is looking forward to since we won the NetSquared contest.

Looks like another Louisville startup has a birthday too, Consuming Louisville. Happy Birthday!

Friday, March 28, 2008

New Map: National Pollution Emissions from the EPA

We've got a new map up that shows 22,880 pollution sources across the entire United States from the EPA, collected in 2006, the most recent year available, and the total amount of pounds of pollution emitted.

It's got a few new features going on, like auto-location based on your IP address, and our normal blue radius circle has been removed even though you still see the points closest to your address.

The data comes from their Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) that contains information on toxic chemical releases and waste management activities reported annually by certain industries as well as federal facilities.

Let us know what you think in the comments, and thanks to Amanda M for the suggestion!

Thanks to Forge Louisville

A big thank you to Forge Louisville and the local startup community for supporting Metro Mapper in the NetSquared contest.

Matt Winn and Michelle Jones have been terrific with their efforts.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

UPDATE: You Did It - Your Mapper is a N2Y3 Featured Project

To the people that use Metro Mapper and those who voted for the Your Mapper project in the NetSquared mashup contest:

You Did It - Thank You!

Thanks to your votes we were in the top 21 projects out of the 122 that were submitted.

NetSquared announced the winners today at noon EST in their N2Y3 contest, although the number of votes that each project received has not been revealed. This means that the expansion of Metro Mapper is going to happen.

Alphabetical List of Top Projects

We'll keep you posted on further developments. We'll be heading to San Jose for the conference May 27-28 to present our ideas in more detail. That's when funding and resources will be determined. From the site's FAQ:

Q: What kind of support will I get for my Project?
The NetSquared Team is busy recruiting Business Analysts, Product Managers, Business Mentors and Engineers to help Mashup Projects build a team that is capable of bringing your Mashup vision/concept/specification to life.
Thanks again to everyone cared enough and took the time to vote. We owe you a drink.

Post a comment below if you voted for us, with a link to your site or blog. We want to make sure you get some credit!

UPDATE: They just updated their blog with some more information:

The Featured Projects will be invited to attend this year’s NetSquared Conference (N2Y3) on May 27 and 28 (just after Memorial Day). The Conference will be held at Cisco Systems' Vineyard Conference Center in San Jose, California. Cisco Systems has been our generous host for the previous two NetSquared Conferences.

At the Conference, Project Teams will have an opportunity to display and discuss their mashups, and attendees will vote to select the top three. All 21 Projects at the conference will receive a share of $100,000 in prize money. The share will be determined by voting at the Conference.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Courier-Journal Points to Metro Mapper in Contest

Thanks to Charlie White at the Courier-Journal for mentioning the NetSquared contest in his Business People column, and for pointing people to the Metro Mapper voting ballot. A few people have mentioned they saw it in the Courier this past Saturday.



Final Day to Vote for Metro Mapper

Today is the final day of voting for Metro Mapper in the NetSquared contest (voting was extended through today). All votes must be submitted by 5pm, and if you haven't voted yet, please do so now.

I really appreciate the support I've gotten from you and other Louisville organizations, like Forge and With your help, I feel very confident about ranking in the top 20!

1. Learn more and vote now:

2. Forward this link to your friends and colleagues.

NetSquared is going to announce the winners on Thursday, so I'll keep you posted.

Thanks so much!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Voting Support:, Forge Louisville, Consuming Louisville

I'd like to give thanks for some local websites that are covering my entry in the NetSquared mashup contest. Tomorrow is the last day to vote.

Thanks to, Louisville Magazine, and publisher Dan Crutcher for running an article liked to from their homepage.

Forge Louisville

Thanks to Forge Louisville for keeping people voting in the contest, Michelle Jones for doing a writeup, and Matt Winn for starting the terrific Forge organization.

Consuming Louisville

Thanks again to Michelle Jones at Consuming Louisville for alerting her readers to the mashup contest.

Friday, March 21, 2008

NetSquared Voting Extended Three Days

NetSquared has extended the voting deadline for all projects by three days, which means you can vote today, Friday March 21 through Monday March 24!

We can't do it without you, and we think the community can help us out and spread the word. It should take you about 5 minutes to help us out.

More Information:

Our 'Your Mapper' Project Page:

Four Things You Can Do

1. Cast your own Vote!

2. Send out an email to your friends and family with a link to our more information page.

3. Mention the the contest on your own site or blog

4. Promote the contest on your site or blog with one of our badges

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Vote for Metro Mapper in Final Round of NetSquared Competition

Metro Mapper made it to the final round of voting this week thanks to you! Last week, we ranked fifth out of 122 projects in "star" votes. If we can rank in the top 20 in votes this week, we are guaranteed a trip to San Jose to present our idea, and some human and financial resources.

We Need Your Help!

Visit the site, add us to your ballot, and cast your vote. We can't do it without you, and we think the community can help us out and spread the word.

More Information:

Our 'Your Mapper' Project Page:

Four Things You Can Do

1. Cast your own Vote!

2. Send out an email to your friends and family with a link to our more information page.

3. Mention the the contest on your own site or blog

4. Promote the contest with one of our badges

Metro Mapper is looking to the community of Louisville and Kentucky, and to users of the site, to vote in this final round. Ranking in the contest would help Metro Mapper expand its services and launch a new, improved project called Your Mapper, which would allow community contributions and national coverage. Thanks a lot!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

UPDATED: Metro Mapper Needs Your Help: Vote for Us!

Metro Mapper is trying to evolve into Your Mapper and needs your help to make it happen!

We are participating in a contest by Net Squared with the goal of "remixing the web for social change." The contest provides funding and resources for innovative projects that foster social change and empower individuals.

View all the information right on our site.

We just discovered a *bug* in the site. If you are using Internet Explorer 7, and login to try to vote or "star" our project, you can't!

The [+] voting icon is not visible! So some of you are not crazy...

Until this is resolved with the site owners, see if you can use another alternate browser, like Firefox on a PC or Safari on a Mac, or Opera.

Firefox Browser Download

Thanks again and vote today, Friday, by 5pm if you can! It's the last day of the first round.

Metro Mapper needs your help now!

First, do this by Friday, March 14, 2008

  1. Register for an account right now.

  2. Wait for a confirmation email from Net Squared, and click the link. Check your spam folders too.

  3. Visit our project and "Star" us by clicking the .

  4. If you want, add some comments after the article.

Next, the week of March 17-21, 2008, vote for us.

  1. Login to your account.

  2. Vote for the Your Mapper project. You can vote for four to nine other projects too.

On Monday, March 24, they will announce the top 20 projects. If we are one of them, then we can proceed to the conference in San Jose to raise interest and get some funding and resources!

About the Project

Metro Mapper is a free service currently based in Louisville, KY. We have a set of tools that let us gather public information and put it on interactive maps, which you can see on our site.

But what we are missing is comminity contributions, data for other United States cities and rural areas, and the ability to show lots more information.

We want to become Your Mapper, a new site that has all of this and an empowered public. The Net Squared project would let us begin to do that. Read all about what we want to accomplish on our Project Page. Register now!

Public Transporation: Getting Governments to Participate

For Earth Day this year, Google Transit is pleading with local public transport agencies to integrate their route information with Google Maps. Louisville's local TARC bus system (Transit Authority of River City) has a lot of routes and services, but their current route interface is a bit cumbersome, and most people don't even know it exists.

This free service would open the route info up and place it into the international site for millions of people to see and use. All that is needed is for TARC to create a series of text files and place them on their website. Google then grabs them, and turns them into an interactive, visual version on their maps. The full instructions are just one page and not very complicated.

Actually, anyone can create these files using a tool similar to my sample TARC route system map. The issue is that the TARC has to contact Google directly about it, and host the files on

I wrote to TARC last year about doing this, but got no response. Does anyone have some good contacts at TARC that could see the benefit in this service?

So is anyone up to the challenge? A group of people could get together, split up the routes, and create the needed text files. I know there are lots of TARC fans out there, looking for an easier method to find routes and ride the bus!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Cities in 3D: Getting Government to Participate

Google has had this free service for a while now, but they are currently promoting it, trying to get lots of cities in 3D within Google Earth. It's really easy to do, and most cities likely have the data needed already.

How do you get your city to participate? Who do you need to contact? Is there anyone in your local government who knows how to get this accomplished?


Wouldn't it be wonderful to have your entire city in 3D? Right now in Louisville, Kentucky, there are about 10 structures (of sufficient quality) that people have uploaded to the global directory, including the Humana Building, Glassworks, Slugger Field, and even Museum Plaza.

Lexington has hundreds of buildings loaded of the downtown and UK campus, likely done by UK students. Couldn't UofL students do this too? Here is a view of UK's campus in Google Earth:

How This Benefits Your Local Government

Engaging the public in planning

  • Land use/zoning
  • Redevelopment
  • Historic preservation

Fostering economic development

  • New business recruitment
  • Business site location planning
  • Real estate development

Boosting tourism

  • Landmarks and attractions
  • Community event planning

Simplifying navigation and geographic analysis

Enhancing facilities management

Supporting security and crime prevention

Facilitating emergency management

Monday, March 03, 2008

Forge Louisville Interview

Those of you interested in learning more about the history and future of Metro Mapper, head over to Forge Louisville's interview. Michelle Jones (of Consuming Louisville fame) is a writer for Forge and asked me a few questions as part of series profiling local web startups. She asked some great questions and hopefully you'll find some of the answers interesting.

Thanks to Michelle and Forge for all the good work on this new veture.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Second Annual Derby Map 2008 is Live

The 2008 Kentucky Derby events are now all together in a new map! We've currently got the official events for the 134th running of the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on our map.

First Annual Derby Map
Check out where the dozens of official and un-offical events are taking place in the beautiful city of Louisville. We'll be adding commerical and charity events as they become announced. If you have an event you'd like added, just let us know.

We think it's great to see the diversity of events and locations spread over the city. Show it to your local friends and out of town visitors.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Tutorial: How and Why to Bookmark a Search

Bookmarks on Metro Mapper allow you to save and share a particular search and let others see what you have found. It's free, quick, easy, and fun!

1. First, sign up for an account. Then login when you first visit the site.

2. Now when you visit a map, you see a link that lets you create a bookmark at the top of each map on the site.

3. Select some Filter options to the left of each map. These let you narrow down your results and create some interesting results. Click a Filter box to open it, then select the options you want to search for.

4. Do an address search on the map you are on (or drag and zoom the map to where you want the center to be and select Center of Map), then click "Update Map." This will recenter the map where you want and show you the closest items that match your selected Filters.

5. You can zoom into your results, drag the map around, and select the type of view you want (Satellite, Map, or Hybrid). You are setting up the map for a bookmark, which is like snapshot of your current view.

6. When you are ready, click the "Bookmark, Email, or Save this Map" link at the top of the map. You will then save this search and view to your account, and see an information popup on your map.

6b. (Optional) If you'd like, click on "Add Description." This will show you a popup where you can type in the name of your Bookmark. For example "Highgate Springs and Bon Air severe crimes in 2007." This will help you remember all the details of your map, and shows up on your account page. You can create or edit this description later.

7. From the Bookmark popup, you can see a text link to your bookmark, and can highlight the link to copy it, bookmark in your browser, or email it to someone else. Once you are done, click "Close Popup" to return to your map.

8. Your Bookmark is saved to your account. Click "My Account" at the top of the page. You can see a list of all your Bookmarks. For each one, you can email it, save it to your browser, view it, or edit the description using the icons to the left.

9. You are done! You can have as many bookmarks as you'd like. Then you can share them with your friends and the world and post them on websites, blogs, forums or comments on articles.

Note that the points in your bookmarks might change as the data gets updated. For example, if a restaurant gets an updated health review, the old review won't show up anymore on your bookmark. Bookmarks really save your center location and map search options for later, not every point on the map at a moment in time.

Here are a few interesting map bookmarks I made to get you started. Feel free to bookmark my bookmarks to your own account!

  1. Restaurants with 86% or less health score.

  2. Highlands restaurants with 99-100% health score.

  3. Severe crimes around Highgate Springs and Bon Air in 2007.

  4. Old Louisville's Historic District.

  5. Homes for sale up to $150,000 around Highview.

  6. Reported severe crimes committed by white males around Central Park.

  7. Sex Offenders near Tom Sawyer State Park.

  8. Prostitution reports by offender type near Pleasure Ridge Park.

Make some of your own bookmarks and if they are interesting, post them to the comments right here.