More and more cities are begining to offer digital maps to help tourists navigate their way around and locate points of interest via a mobile device. The city of Stuttgart, Germany for example, rents Stuttgart2Go – a Pocket PC device with GPS capabilities that allows a visitor to locate and map tourist attractions while on the go. As you physically approach a particular point of interest more historical information appears on your device about that site.
Such devices and software like PocketMap are very useful for tourists and others needing to find their way in an unfamiliar environment. But wouldn’t they be even more useful if these same tools could help locals and visitors simultaneously identify “news points of interest”? For example, GPS and other location-specific sensor technologies could be imbedded with current (and not just historical) news tidbits that bring those physical spaces to life. Imagine, for example, tooling around your neighborhood and being able to learn about recent news stories or people that made headlines as you drive or walk by particular locations. And as a tourist in say, San Francisco, as you pass by City Hall you might get information on the latest scandal involving Mayor Gavin Newsom. While at the zoo you might get up to speed about the recent Tiger mauling case. (It’s also an obvious business opportunity for local media attempting to capture more eyeballs).
The point is not to sensationalize every location, but rather to add new layers of information and relevance to the real world. By putting physical locations more squarely in the context of current events we are able to bring them to life, educate, and add greater significance all at the same time. If places are only as relevant as what we see, know and think about them, why not increase that level of knowledge with “news that moves” and richer location-based experiences?
And as consumers come to expect more options while on the go, a mobile map has the potential to become much more than just a map…interactive or otherwise.