There is an inherent inadequacy in most site maps: they exclude critical information such as bench locations, and distances, that could be used by the disabled, elderly, and even families with small children to navigate our parks. People with Multiple Sclerosis, as an example, might not explore a park because they are unaware of places to rest. We realized that the technology used to solve the mapping problem can be used to enhance the park mobile device experience for everyone.
What it does
Drawn maps of regional resources like parks and gardens are distorted and rotated from their real-world location. However they contain the information that people want, like facilities, resources, labels, and spaces. The app translates real-world location information into the graphic representation through non-linear transforms and geo-spatial trigonometry to derive pixel-accurate locations. The app can locate your position on the graphic map. You can also annotate the map with additional resources like water fountains and park benches. You can also add located reports concerning park issues, as well as points of interest that others may find useful. As the app understands real-world positions, it also shows real distances between yourself and locations on the graphic map.
How we built it
We derived a lot of math to perform the translation for a point from latitude and longitude to the accurate location in pixel x,y space. We built an iOS app for browsing through local parks on a Bing map, and allowing you to zoom that park into the graphical version of the park. The app provides all of the features mentioned in "What it does", and serves as a mobile resource for park visitors. We utilized Azure services to provide the backend for the app - including data storage for user generated annotations to the map information.
Challenges we ran into
The math to translate geolocation to a drawn map location is very difficult. Drawn maps are distorted and rotated views of the real world. Deriving the pixel-accurate math was very challenging.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Mapping geo-coordinates from a smart phone onto a brochure-style map is a very challenging problem. We have developed an approach, using some fairly complicated trigonometry and coordinate transformations, that can be used not only for the map we tested, but for any generic map.
What we learned
In studying the issues with parks, we found that parks are underutilized, yet many people want to improve their local parks. We also found several studies that described the many benefits that parks bring to their community.
What's next for MyParks
With the base technology working, we will look at adding additional parks. We will also look at different types of locations - theme parks, gardens, etc. Mapping outdoor exhibits is a natural extension.