London 2012 SuperMap

Today begins the 2012 Olympic Games held in London England. Five years ago in 2007 I was heavily involved in the initial project to build specifications and prototypes for the "SuperMap", the mapping platform for the LOCOG (London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games). Mikel and I through Mapufacture and working with Nick Black and Steve Coast then at ZXV Consulting put together some innovative concepts on how to engage citizens, media, and government in the lead up to and during the Olympics.

The SuperMap, in essence, is building its own slice of the GeoWeb. Multiple data sources such as Olympic news, construction details, events, and schedules need to be brought together and updated rapidly, and made available to internal staff, partners, and the public. To accommodate the diverse needs of its users, data should be made easily available to global users and developers to enable them to add more information, spread knowledge, and personalise their interface to the Olympic SuperMap.


We proposed combining the realtime data aggregation and personalized capabilities of Mapufacture to enable anyone to build custom maps and itineraries that would be accessible via web, mobile, and paper interfaces. We proposed working closely with the OpenStreetMap community to map the current and evolving landscape of the London area as the Olympic venues were built to have up-to-date maps that also had consideration and buy-in from locals in the area.

Our suggestions also included a robust API (application programming interface) to allow developers and organizations to build specific and intriguing applications that would serve various types of users and interfaces.

There were a large number of interesting and unique opportunities for the London 2012 Olympics to improve community involvement with the games, raise environmental awareness, leverage new technology to improve the engagement and experience of visitors and global spectators.

It was a large and ambitious goal and one that still barely exists on the web now five years later. The hope in working with LOCOG was the potential focus, timeline and desire for engagement would jump-start these ideas. In the end, at least they have a slippy map and a few mobile apps.

I wish everyone the best in the games. In particular I'll be rooting for a few amazing of the people I've worked with.

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Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.