Why maps need to change

Maps have existed for thousands of years, and have come in a lot of formats. From the earliest cave paintings through to today’s digital maps, they have been an integral part of human history for years. Earlier maps had a variety of purposes, from showing specific areas of the world through to visualizing constellations, and have evolved into today’s that provide a ubiquitous view of roads, streets and businesses around the world. Despite this evolution, their purpose has always been to help people define, explain, and navigate their way through the world.

One of the first complete world maps by Alberto Cantino. (Source: Cornell)

The Cantino planisphere is one of the earliest world maps, and shows Portuguese geographic discoveries. (Source: Cornell)

The world is constantly evolving, changing and accelerating, yet current maps are static. Current maps are becoming irrelevant because they don’t reflect the dynamic world that we live in. While Waze and Google Maps have attempted to fill this gap through taking traffic into account in travel predictions, they only help with one of the many purposes for using a map. There’s no way to know where is busy around you right now.

We see technologies evolving, changing our perception evermore each day. Machine learning and data science are entering the mainstream in other areas. Social platforms like twitter and Facebook show how the digital world is constantly changing and what trends are emerging around the world. While the digital landscape is adapting, maps have remained stagnant.

This is where Mapdrift comes in. We want to show what is happening around you, right now. We want you to see where is busy and quiet, and how things are evolving around you. We’re focusing on movement patterns, and through machine learning, we’ll help you understand where you should go next.

The next generation of maps is coming, where they will become intelligent, transparent and actually useful.