PhillyPopeMap: What to Do When a Million Visitors Need a Map
With a projected attendance of one million people, the city planning to shut down for three days and the heart of Philadelphia behind a security fence, the first thing residents wanted was a map. Unfortunately, due to security concerns, the city was not permitted to publish an official web map - announcements from more than eight state, local and federal agencies were released with...PDFs. With no map a few weeks beforehand, we got to work: tracing layers, building a timeline and styling layers. Just days before the Pontiff's arrival there was still no other way to see ALL of this data in one place - everything from when driving and walking would be prohibited to public transportation shutdowns and the Pope's public appearance schedule - even the news media embedded the map for readers.
We'll use a real-world event as a way of discussing common requirements for developing a map-based application at scale: low or no-cost open source tools, constantly-changing, poor-quality data sources, usability, and instrumenting basic web analytics for web maps.
In our case, a few civic hackers managed to produce what years of planning and millions of dollars could not, and the result was over 360,000 map views by 50,000 users. If you're a mapmaker and see a need in your community, what not give it a shot?