Mapping is big business. From 2016–2018, Uber paid Google $58 million for the use of Google’s maps. That’s $53,00 per DAY. Mapping, of course is a data flow technology, and where data flows, money goes. You and I, as “normal people” are just beginning to be able to tap into these pervasive data flows around us. From our personal data to the data we can generate just by interacting with the world around us, we are surrounded by a flood of data.
Obviously, mapping is ripe for a blockchain + meatspace solution. In December of 2021, I sat down with Ariel Siedman at Hivemapper for a walk through what they’re doing to allow you to tap into one of the many large data flows swirling around us every day
Before we talk about how you can start to tap into the data flow of your mapping capabilities (or just go straight there if you’re impatient), let’s talk about who might buy mapping data.
One thing that’s likely is that YOU don’t. You just open up your phone, choose your favorite mapping app, and get where you’re going. For the most part, you don’t care what the route looks like, you just want the fastest route.
Unless, of course, you’re a real estate developer. In that case, you want to know everything you can about a piece of land before you put serious money into it. Real estate developers pore over maps; they’re obsessed with them. They look at properties from every angle. “Can we move this wall here?” “How much space do we have to the property line?” “How high is this?” “Where are the exterior doors?” and a long list of other questions that they’ll pay to have answered.
Real estate developers aren’t the only ones interesting in mapping data. Uber wants it, Lyft wants it, urban planners want it, and they’re all willing to pay for fresh, accurate data.
That’s where you, and Hivemapper, come in. Hivemapper is one of a small group of companies hustling to share the wealth of data you have the potential to create, just by driving around.
In broad strokes: You buy a dashcam for your car, connect it to your phone, and drive around. As you map “tiles”, or small sections of the earth (8′ x 8′ as example), you get paid for providing fresh mapping coverage.
Hivemapper will start to value some tiles as higher than others; driving down Main St for the 500th time that day is less valuable than driving down that one alley that no one has driven down for months.
Hivemapper will also start to give you options for alternate routes as you drive, allowing you to scoop up the most valuable tiles that are close to where you’re going. I see that being a pretty fun game, and possibly an excellent additional revenue source for Uber, Lyft, and other professional drivers.
The solution is still in its infancy. For now, it’s only available in certain markets, and you have to move the data from the dashcam to the cloud via an SD card. Yep, no wireless automation yet, but that’s coming.
Eventually, the dashcam will move data to the cloud via your phone, and your phone will upload it via WiFi. Of course, I’m not going to wait for “eventually.” 🙂
I went ahead and bought the only currently approved dashcam for Hivermapper, even though San Diego isn’t an “available” market yet. Once I’ve got it mounted, I’ll be firing it up and reporting back on this.
I’m expecting (since this is such a young project) the usual friction that comes from trying new things. If YOU have a Hivemapper and any experience with ’em, please let me know in the comments. I’m excited to be mapping our world together!
If you want to buy a dashcam and support my work, use code DEPINSTATE in the Hivemapper store to knock 5% off your order.