PathMapper


PathmapperGoal:

To create an application that allows the user to identify locally popular locations and map walkways that are not typically mapped by conventional mapping applications like Google Maps. We would also like to allow users to interact with the map by giving feedback on the walking directions and make the experience social.

Motivation:

Google Maps does a very good job of mapping streets, but the same cannot be said for small walkways and footpaths. When the user wants a walking direction from between two points he has the option of taking short-cuts through buildings and uncharted side-walks. Such a route would be shorter than the conventional route shown by google maps. In addition to this there are a lot of places where the penetration of google maps is not as extensive as it is in United States. For example, in India there are a lot of food carts and hole-in-the-wall eateries which are popular, but cannot be found on Google Maps. In many cases these eateries are on narrow side-walks and lanes. So mapping such locations and paths would prove useful to pedestrians.

Proposed Solution:

Mapping such location without the help of proper infrastructure would be very difficult but not impossible. When it comes to recording distances and paths a user’s smartphone is adequately suited for the job. So crowd-sourcing the process of data gathering would be a viable option. For this to be successful the app should demand very minimal human interaction. In order to map a location the user starts the application from a previously known location (identifiable by Google Maps) and then starts walking towards the destination. The application maps his path to the destination and superimposes that with the actual map to come up with a “walking” path. This path is then uploaded to a central server and is used in subsequent queries.

Use Cases:

  1. Searching for a location:

The user can primarily use the app to find a walking route to a particular destination. The user might have heard of a popular taco stand in his college campus but could not use Google Maps to find walking directions because that place is not mapped by Google Maps. So he uses our application and searches for the taco stand. He gets multiple paths originating from different locations. Each of the path also has a “yea” and “nay” rating given by users indicating whether the path was actually navigable and if it led to the right destination. The user can use this or the starting point to choose what he wants to take. The selected path is then displayed on the screen highlighting the source and the destination. Once the user has reached the destination he can choose to upvote(“yea”) or downvote(“nay”) the path based on his experience.

  1. Adding a new location:

The user might have been to a taco stand in his college and would have liked it very much. He wishes to share its location with his friends. So he starts to map the walking directions to the place from a well known location. The user opens the app enters the starting point and the destination and starts to map his walking path. Once he reaches the destination he can review the path he has mapped and choose to upload it or cancel it.

Business Case:

Conventional mapping applications like Google Maps and Apple Maps do not do a good job in providing walking directions. While there are specialized mapping applications that provide walking directions, they are restricted to trails and hikes and they also do not contain data on how accessible it is. We believe that this is a very good opportunity for someone who is able to solve the problem of mapping walkways to gather a sufficiently large user base. As far as we know, there is no other mapping app in the market that solves this niche area.

Our plan was to crowdsource the collection of pathways along with a social element, allowing users to upvote or downvote a pathway. We were planning to make the app available on the marketplace free of cost. Our monetization plan was based on displaying targeted ads to users depending on their frequently travelled pathways. We believe that this is really valuable data that could potentially be sold at a premium.

Post-mortem:

We had a prototype up and running. But a crucial element to this application were the users whose active usage was key to this app’s success. We did not spend enough time getting traction with users. So essentially, this application had few walkways uploaded in its database and was eventually abandoned.