Back in 2005 I made a screencast that showed how the convergence of GPS and online mapping enables us to collectively annotate the planet. The Tracks4Africa folks have been doing that since 2000. On this week’s Innovators show, Johann Groenewald explains how some GPS enthusiasts who are passionate about exploring, documenting, and preserving Africa’s rural and remote “eco-destinations” have created an annotated map that travelers can use and enhance. The GPS maps have evolved into a commercial product. The annotations — including photos and commentary — are available at the Padkos website, and also as a layer in Google Earth.
I found out about T4A when a reader commented on an earlier item about ground truthing and crowdsourced mapping. T4A is a wonderful demonstration of that possibility. It’s also a great story about how open data contributed by a community, and commercial data managed by a business, can thrive in a symbiotic relationship.