How do I make a map like this?
June 5, 2016 5:41 PM   Subscribe

I want to make a map that's a cross between Google Maps and Waze and Yelp. What software do I use?

Say my online group is really into revolving doors. I want to make a map that members can log onto in order to leave notes about spots of interest to other door lovers. (e.g. Door back in service!, Catch the door taking a bath every Sunday at 4pm!)

It should show streets, buildings and businesses in a region that's a lot larger than the standard Google Maps offline download. Members are scattered across a portion of the Deep South.

What do I use to make this map and then maintain the annotations left by members?

Google Maps?
Google Earth- regular or pro?
Open source software x?
Public library online resource y?

I'd be happy to use anything but Google. In fact, I'm asking this question here because Google Maps for Windows how-to guides fail me again and again.

However, the end product must be very user friendly and accessible via an app or portal that is familiar to users who are adept at social media but not tech savvy. Facebook, Google Maps or Mapquest, something like that.

That leads to the other reason I came here first: I can't get my head around how the map will reflect *both* notes added by group members *and* cartographic revisions issued by Big Map if I store the map apart from the software I use to make it. Maybe it can't.

If I'm overlooking something, or if I am on the wrong track, please tell me.

PS: If my idea is so revolutionary that I should drop everything and go seek venture fund jerk money, quietly let me know and I'll get you in on the ground floor.
posted by CtrlAltD to Technology (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You could do this with Google Maps using an overlay or kmz file. If you want this downloadable you could use Open Street Maps as your map source.
posted by zippy at 6:02 PM on June 5, 2016


It's opensource so you can do anything, just code it up. :-) There should be tools. I deeply love google maps but it keeps getting tweaked for the worse and they do want to monetize so there could be fees if not right away at a surprising time.
posted by sammyo at 6:05 PM on June 5, 2016

OpenStreetMap would be great for cataloging the locations of doors, especially if you are willing to take the time to draw the building outlines in case they don't already exist. Certain routing engines actually use the information so that they don't direct wheelchair users to a revolving door, for example, so you're improving the map for everyone by adding that data.

That said, I don't think the default renderer makes use of the door tag to differentiate between different types of doors (it just uses the entrance tag). I believe MapBox has a tool you can use to make a custom map rendering that does include doors, though.
posted by wierdo at 6:17 PM on June 5, 2016

BTW, another option is to create your database of doors as a GeoJSON file and publish it to a website using Leaflet, which can overlay your GeoJSON file on Google Maps or OSM or MapQuest Open (which is OSM data).

Going that route requires that you come up with your own means for adding the data to the file, though.

Also, if doors were just an example and it's really something else and you decide you want your data directly in OSM, do make sure that whatever it is you want to add falls within the guidelines of what is considered appropriate in the project. Most things that are verifiable on the ground are fair game, so it isn't likely to be a problem.
posted by wierdo at 6:24 PM on June 5, 2016

Wow, thank you all for these suggestions. This sounds very doable. I am not going to even bother with Google Earth.

It's not doors but it is something benign and not creepy, like doors.

You know how some gas pumps have a kickstand on the handle that lets you park the pump in the "on" position? Those are the best. (Watch it though, don't wander off!). The map is going to mark the gas stations in the region that still have pumps like that.
posted by CtrlAltD at 7:01 PM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Because this is a real observable thing, Openstreetmap would be perfect. There are OSM users mapping way weirder things.

You might want to take a look at the amenity=fuel tag, and see if you can come up with an acceptable tag for the locking pumps. While you are free to make up any tag that you want, it's best to discuss it first on the OSM wiki and on a mailing list so people know it's a real thing.

While these special pumps won't render on the main map, you can query and extract the data using something like overpass turbo API.
posted by scruss at 8:53 PM on June 5, 2016

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