Local Information: "Introducing MapQuest Vibe, a New Way to Explore" (Beta)
Here’s a new betal release you might want to take a look at. Online today. One thing we like (for reference purposes) is how neighborhoods are outlined on maps. Of course boundaries can be vary by who you ask but it’s a start especially if you’re researching an area you’re unfamiliar with.
From the MapQuest Blog:
Today, we’re launching MapQuest Vibe, which is your shortcut to becoming a local, anywhere. This early beta cuts through the clutter of ratings, lists and pins on a map, by giving you actual rankings of places based on key criteria within a local neighborhood context.
MapQuest Vibe gives you the local knowledge of not just the best restaurant in Denver, but also the best Italian restaurant in the LoDo neighborhood in Denver.
The “local knowledge” is generated with a new patented algorithm called VibeRank. This blended social-algorithmic formula takes several implicit signals (like searches on MapQuest and cartographic data), creates a baseline ranking and then layers on explicit social signals from the new Vibe pages.
Based on this algorithm, MapQuest Vibe profiles more than 50,000 neighborhoods, 27,000 cities and 50,000 hotspots in the U.S., reaching 98 percent of the population.
The neighborhood pages let you explore everything a neighborhood has to offer, including restaurants, attractions and services, all ranked in a clear order. Neighborhoods are scored according to attributes like popularity, walkability, and edginess, and the aggregate quality of the places in that neighborhood. These rankings and scores are influenced when you vote up places you like and vote down those you don’t.
A common problem for mapping and local search products is that the ground-truth is hard to keep up with. When you’re dealing with tens of millions of places, it can take a while for new businesses to be added, closed businesses to be removed or to get everything categorized accurately.
mqVibe approaches this in two ways: First is the traditional way of trying to use the best data providers and allowing businesses to contact us directly to keep their data up to date; the second way is through the social feedback loop inherent in the system. The more people who vote and comment, the more accurate the underlying data. And, in the next few months, we’ll have better tools to let users help us fix this on the fly.
Over time, you’ll see VibeRank applied to more and more things on MapQuest. Whether it’s applied to highway exits, fuel-efficient routes, national parks or even used as a reputation indicator on user profiles, you can expect to see clear and simple ranks and scores to help you make a decision.
It will be interesting to watch and see if the algorithm can withstand spammers and others who want to manipulate rankings and other info.
Direct to MapQuest Vibe (Beta)
Note: iPhone app coming soon.
Direct to MapQuest Vibe Introductory Video
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.