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Thursday, February 2, 2012

ShareMap.Org: CC Mapping for Wikipedia and Beyond

Last week Jakub Kaniewski, co-founder of ShareMap.org contacted me about the site. He described it as a "free Web GIS mapping engine focused mainly on two things - Wikipedia and Education."

I can certainly see a focus on Wikipedia; there is quite a bit of discussion on how to create a map for that site. There's also, I'm pleased to report, quite a bit of attention paid to the licensing of the maps created. The data used is all either public domain (PD) or Creative Commons (CC) and includes OpenStreetMap, World Wind and Natural Earth. There are also background map options from Yahoo and Bing. Check out the gallery for some of the publicly shared maps.

There are map creation and labeling tools, so that you can "draw on" the maps. There are tools to export the vector data to KML or SVG and the like. What's missing, I think, for use in education here in the United States, is the ability to bring in one's own data. That might be in a shapefile, KML or spreadsheet. That, in my mind, is what educators want students at all levels to be able to do. That's why Google Fusion Tables and Esri's ArcGIS Online is so attractive to educators. 

It's interesting to note that the site is hosted in Poland and uses as its base of comparison the U.S. CIA World Factbook maps. From the FAQ:

What kind of map can be made with ShareMap.org?In simple w – in every place where you use CIA fact book and want to customize it consider using ShareMap maps. It has two advantages over CIA maps – SVG format and easy customization.
Jakob is looking for feedback on the app from users and educators. I hope you can help him out.