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emergent road maps and route-finding

Cold-medicine induced altered mental-state yesterday gave me an interesting idea:
Right now all the mapping companies (mapquest, yahoo maps, google maps) use NavTeq to gather data. Once (if ever) cell phone usage data tied to GSM becomes public (a la MIT’s Mobile Landscape), I wonder if you can aggregate data of people going from point A to point B, and lookup solutions to the travelling salesman problem.

Similar to the concept of emergent garden paths in landscape architecture and the wisdom of crowds, let’s let public agreement decide the best way to go from one place to another.

What do you think?

More interesting reading:
Wikipedia on the Wisdom of Crowds
IAWiki on Emergent Architecture


  1. a very interesting idea, if nothing else would be quite useful for urban planning, giving insight into where mass transportation is most needed. tracking where people go does trigger a big brother paranoia in people though, just look at all the hissy fits that start over public security cameras.

    another good wisdom of the crowds example here

    Posted on 28-Sep-05 at 16:53 | Permalink
  2. mote

    Yeah, I’m not too happy about the big-brother thing, but I think it’s an inevitability given technology and our governments increasing bent towards totalitarianism.

    Then again, there are ways of doing this kind of monitoring while still maintaining anonymity. Especially if you look at statistics in aggregate (latitudinally vs longitudinally)

    Posted on 29-Sep-05 at 12:33 | Permalink