Map Tools Help International Aid Workers – and DC Residents Seeking a Safe Way Home to Stumble Home

Stumble Safely helps D.C. residents find a safe walk home.’s Gadget Lab blog recently featured Knight News Challenge winner Development Seed, after the company developed customized maps showing areas that might be dangerous for drunken pedestrians in Washington, D.C.

The Stumble Safely site lets users plot a safe way to stumble home after an excessive evening by combining freely-available government data on liquor licenses, crime reports and subway stations.

The map, and others to help bikers and late night pedestrians in D.C. find safe routes, were built with Tilemill, an open source program Development Seed created to help users easily craft ‘maps using a variety of data sources. The maps were overlaid with information like bike shop locations and cross walks, expanding a basic street map to the much more specific needs of the night owls, bikers and pub crawlers in the nation’s capital.

While the Stumble Safely site may seem light-hearted, ‘Development Seed is working on all kinds of new ways to put mapped data into the hands ‘ and onto the smart phones ‘ of people who need it. The company’s News Challenge project  promises to help local media outlets easily map data.

‘We want to put these tools in the hands of the subject-matter experts and see what they can do,’ Development Seed president Eric Gundersen told

Gadget Lab noted that Development Seed has already released Maps on a Stick, a program that allows users to put data-rich maps on USB sticks, so that people like aid workers in countries with spotty data bandwidth coverage can access mapping information.

Development Seed also put its expertise to work to help aid workers after the January 12 earthquake in Haiti, providing map tiles on its site that showed collapsed buildings, roads and seismic data.

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