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GoogleMaps: How it helped Kenyans survive crisis, and Americans find playgrounds.

Is a hammer more valuable when it’s building a roof for a homeless family in Guatemala, OR hanging a Monet for a wealthy collector in Paris?

At TWG, we love working on projects that provide a tangible social benefit. Whether it’s a for-profit company helping non-profit causes communicate using digital media (actofgood.org), or a a non-profit organization helping families locate safe and fun playgrounds in their neighbourhoods (playspacefinder.com), TWG likes building solutions that do good.

Today I watched Eric Hersman’s 4min presentation at TEDU on how he and his team built a mashup with user-generated SMS reports and Google Maps. They gathered citizen generated crisis information after the 2008 post-election conflict in Kenya, and mapped the areas of violence to help people avoid future crisis (you can view the app here).

Last year TWG was fortunate enough to work with kaboom.org to create a user-generated directory of playgrounds using Google Maps to display/browse the parks. KaBOOM! felt it was their duty to provide a resource for locating great places to play… which corresponds with their mission to, “advocate play as a vital component of a child’s life.”

Whether a web app is being used to save lives in Kenya, or to enrich the lives of kids in North America, TWG is glad that Google has offered a valuable tool for us all to use.

Tech Note: We’ve been developing internal practices on how to most efficiently manage pin clustering; data filtering; and even server environments for Google Maps. Scott will be making a post on these items in the coming weeks… stay tuned.

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