Wednesday, April 4, 2007

On Maps, Innovation and Cleantech

I love maps. Any kind, new or old. And I've been known to spend literally hours in map stores agape at their beauty, elegance, and moment-in-time aspects. When I can afford them, it is my longstanding goal to be an avid collector.

I used to think that maps were static, and with our modern GPS and satellite driven imagery, a limited space for innovation. But I also remembered a whole team of geographers and mappers that were hired into Microsoft in 1992. That was my first early signal that mapping could be matched to technology to produce new innovation. Microsoft went on to create a $100 million business in online mapping software, but more importantly, mapping online and mapping mashups have exploded onto the scene.

Play the tape forward to 2007, and the notion of mapping technologies as cool is bleedingly obvious. In fact, not a day goes by that I don't see new map mashups. Here's one for London that is color-coded to transportation ease of use.

Clearly, updated daily traffic maps are well known and found on every morning tv news broadcast. But with digital mashups, what about mixing traffic patterns with London regional house prices, or if you think that there will be more plague-born insects, or if you think it's going to get hotter, house prices, pools.

Basically, since the calibrations are constantly changing, so will the maps. In time, I hope to look for more mashups specific to cleantech and have already looked at some cursory notions of geography and cleantech in previous posts, starting with All Power Is Geography.