Local newspapers looking for ideas to bring readers to their websites could do a lot worse than look at The Wiki City project . This aims to apply wiki technology to the mapmaking process, with the project ultimately permitting "anyone to upload content to a map and utilize Semantic Web principles to cross search multiple layers of information."
"Wiki City Rome, an early incarnation of the project's user-generated maps, used GPS and cell phone data to produce a real-time map during an all-night festival held in the city on Sept. 8. A Web site featuring a satellite image of Rome displayed event locations and the position of buses and pedestrian traffic in real time. Buses equipped with GPS devices fed their locations to the project every minute, while cell phone data was constantly received to show how crowds were moving around the city. An image of the map was also projected in one of Rome's main squares."
"If people know about the state of their environment in real time (as opposed to a static map), they can make better informed decisions about how to move about in the city which in term increases efficiency," Kristian Kloeckl, one of Wiki City Rome's team leaders, wrote in an e-mail interview."
Aside from the use to readers who want to avoid traffic jams and long waits at the bus stop, there is also potential for local advertising:
"Wiki City wants to combine different levels of data that, when searched, provide an answer incorporating each level of data. In Kloeckl's vision of a person using a full-featured wiki city map, a runner would use the map to search for a jogging course based on a city's traffic and air quality as well as the runner's health.
"Now making these layers intersect in a meaningful way should give you a proposal of a jogging path that corresponds to your combined query," Kloeckl wrote.
"Kloeckl also provided another example in which a person would use a map to locate a store with a specific bottle of wine and plot a course from the store to a friend's home."
Years away yet, perhaps, but worth keeping an eye on.