On September 22nd, I attended a meetup hosted by DC Media Makers featuring DevelopmentSeed – a firm specializing in open source data visualization and map development.  Over the course of the last several years, this company has created custom maps detailing election fraud and corruption in Afghanistan as well as the post-Earthquake aid work going on in Haiti by 47 different non-profits. They used data provided by various government agencies and NGOs in order to create zoom-able, customizable, and searchable maps that really told a story about events happening overseas.

Many times when web development companies create maps for their clients, the do so using flash. However, open source software has recently lent itself perfectly to creating customizable maps (a la google maps) on drupal frameworks. We love designing with Drupal here at the Bivings Group, and definitely understand and support the ability for data to be transferred into non-flash maps that tell stories and show information in unique and creative ways.

Below is the Afghanistan 2009 election fraud map.


The below is the HaitiAidMap data for the city of Port Au Prince – broken down by project.


The employees at DevelopmentSeed also created another open source product – MapBox – which is their contribution to enhance further collaboration and creation of maps to tell stories across the globe. In more technical terms MapBox is “a suite of open source tools and services for creating and using custom maps in the cloud.” According to Ian Cairns for DevelopmentSeed, this project will soon be looking for Beta Testers, so if maps and open source information development is interesting to you, feel free to click on the link above and sign up to test this software suite.

If you’re interested in other open source mapping and information gathering projects, check out http://www.openstreetmap.org/