Premesh Chandran

Chief Executive Officer, Malaysiakini


This conversation is closed.

We're coming up with easy tools to build exciting online maps, what stuff would you like to see on a map?

Live TED Conversation: Join TED Fellow Premesh Chandran

Co-founder and CEO of, an independent Malaysian news website

This conversation will open at 11 am ET on October 24th.

Maps are now online but still pretty static. What if maps were fast changing? Easy for anyone to create an interesting map of things, events or places, and fill it with other data like demographics, photos, laws and anything else? What kind of maps would you use or create? Give me your ideas!

Closing Statement from Premesh Chandran

Thanks everyone for your wonderful ideas. We're building a easy to use mapping tool called Feedgeorge, and we'll do our best to incorporate your ideas. Its where all geo-data can come together, and anyone can share, or look for, to get to know a place better. You can keep an eye on the project at Or drop me a line at or @premesh and let me know your thoughts! Stay in touch, and lets map together!

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    Oct 24 2011: Emotional experiences of places and areas, bringing together individual experiences to let a collective experience emerge. Working with Come To Your Senses, a project exploring collaborative mapping of emotional and sensory data, I have scratched the surface of this by analogue hands on mapping. I would love to develop it further or see others do something similar in their local context. The NY Times 9/11 interactive map of emotions and memories is a recent example of a way of doing this...

    Laura Sorvala / auralab
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      Oct 24 2011: Sounds like a wonderful project Laura! I've checked out your site. Let me know what we could do for you.
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        Oct 24 2011: Thanks Premesh!

        I suppose we would like to know of any open source resources / tools online, we have also talked about getting possible funding for developing our own mapping software / online tool (yikes!)
    • Oct 24 2011: This is great stuff, Laura, Premesh...I also thought about experiential maps. Have you seen The Hand Drawn Map Association's online collection? I'd really like to see an interactive database that privileges non-analytical forms of making sense of space. But how to highlight the materiality of experience in an online format?

      The Pine Point project might be a start--kind of an experience map of a place that no longer lives on the map. I try to get my students thinking about more creative ways to map space as a way into critiquing more rational forms of knowledge production.
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        Oct 24 2011: Bryan, would love to know more! I'm at
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        Oct 24 2011: Bryan - I love the Hand Drawn Maps collection. You're spot on with non-analytical forms.
    • Oct 24 2011: Agreed. Hand-drawn maps are a great idea. I have often wondered how we can build new tools or use those in existence to create a more sensory rich and emotionally sympathetic online experience. Good luck, Laura.
  • Oct 24 2011: A globe that changes the size of a country depending on an attribute selected by the user (Population, GDP,deficit)
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    Oct 24 2011: I'd make maps of all the trails I've been on and include on my site. Allow for personal account of trail to include facts and photos. Have an adult and kid version that contains fun educational content - GAMING in nature.
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      Oct 24 2011: That could be really fun! How would you want people to find your map? Share in on facebook, link to it, what else?
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        Oct 24 2011: Yes, use the SNS to connect as wide and far as possible. Perhaps a game app on FB that takes the Garden to a whole new level. Help people engage with each other to bridge what we have in COMMON regardless of where we live. Many ideas here that are great to combine really useful maps like Enid Williams mention of foraging and/or CSAs - eating local. Lots of positives. Oh, while we're at it put a map together for carpools. (P.S. Please check out CommonFarms at BTW, I did a kids program that involved arts and crafts to help communicate how children in other countries have much in common with each other. This too could be an element in the map/gaming. Thanks again!
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        Oct 24 2011: The ability to share it on Facebook, Google+, Blogger, etc. would be nifty!
  • Oct 24 2011: My friend and I are working on a project that would allow users to map potential physical entities atop the digital canvas allowed by interactive maps. For example: you know of a vacant lot and would like to see a garden grown in that space. What if you could use the map to tag that piece of land and use existing networks on the web to mobilize your community to build out your imagined green space? Augmented reality becomes physical reality.
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    Oct 24 2011: What about maps that indicate employment, interests, demographics or even opinions? For ex. Graphic Designers world over, by OS, people who use Google+ or Open Source software, political persuasion, etc. It could be an interesting research tool!
  • Oct 24 2011: I've been working on animating maps... for instance not only showing a journey you've taken but replaying the route along a map. Or mapping the change in an area over time, for instance deforestation in the Amazon or polar ice coverage.

    You can play around with creating your own animated maps here -
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    Oct 24 2011: I would like to have the following feature.
    If I want anyone to follow me after half an hour, i can carry my smart phone where i can start recording the way (route) I am going and stop it when i reach destination and then share the whole path with my friends (followers) - which is actually the map with route and have pins pointing the landmarks.
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      Oct 24 2011: So, the smart phone can chart a path or a map for you? Interesting possibilities, fun way to get your a friend to follow you!
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        Oct 24 2011: Yes. On top of that if he can provide some red alerts on any area like traffic jam or accident etc or some additional infor like comments to his friends on "the total time of travel he took" and so on..

        Also another ides i have is :
        1. How about showing the speedlimits on the map when user drags his mouse on the map or clicks any part on the map?
        2. Also you can show any attraction points or gas stations or restaurants in 5/10 miles on where the user clicks the mouse on map.
  • Oct 24 2011: I would just like someone to facilitate the transformation of the gobs of database data into map-based viewers. Specifically, the gobs of county unemployment data from BLS, farm production from USDA, etc...
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    Oct 24 2011: Would be great to have a map that marks where the recycling centres are.
  • Oct 24 2011: Hi.
    i would love to see a map that shows and connects all diferent events, organisations, initiatives and such that are actually really changing our planet and its peoples course to a more sustainable, honest and realistic way of living.
    If there is one thing the world needs in my opinion it is to see this movement that has been getting stronger and stronger since decades and seems to be beginning to blossom and take its rightful place in woldwide society rigth now.
    Any chance of putting that in a map? :)
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      Oct 24 2011: That's a great idea, perhaps we can create some crowd sourcing tool, to show changes in time, and capture the amount of energy pushing change! That would be a colourful map!
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      Oct 24 2011: I'm on facebook at Buzz me!
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    Oct 24 2011: A interesting map would be one that links historical events (political, social, economic, scientific) with their respective geographic areas of origin. I'd like to see one of these about my country.
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      Oct 24 2011: Wow, we could have photos, explanations etc, with a timeslider, like wikipedia on maps?
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        Oct 24 2011: Sure. It would be great. Another interactive map that I thought would show the dynamics of migration, immigration or pilgrimages motivated by faith. Can you imagine something like that?
  • Oct 24 2011: Could there be a map with live updates of what's going on around you like concerts, football matches etc
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    Oct 24 2011: Premesh, please let me know if I can be of any help. Much success on your mapping. Best & Happy Trails!
  • Oct 24 2011: For history and tourism. Imagine arriving at a historic landmark. You hold up your phone as if to take a photo, but instead a historic photo, or re-rendering of the event appears. For example, you visit a historic battlefield. Point your phone to the left, and it shows one encampment. Or visit a place where someone famous spoke. Point your camera towards the historic balcony and an old photos appears of him/her standing there. Visit San Francisco, and see what the street looked like in 1920. Basically, point anywhere and significant events appear on the phone/ipad OVERLAPPING the area you are pointing at.
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    Oct 24 2011: I would like to see the latest updates on traffic jams, on the new traffic system and how many cars had recently passed by a road/lane. As most devices are now have GPS and at the same time also has contacts information, I also would like to see the sactuary places of my families, relatives and friends or even my offices and my colleagues.

    Well, I am grateful that technology is already there and very near to perfection of its own self that it can revolute into even better and better version than the present one.

    :-) I wish to create a map which can detect whether the baby universe, big bang and the other universe or multiverse really exist or not. If it is successful, I'd like to congratulate Stephen Hawking on his brilliant theory!
  • Oct 24 2011: add an in the news that would allow someone to click on a location and it would search news blogs and cast and display what is going on in that area
  • Oct 24 2011: Online maps showing real time weather conditions, tracking on love ones, pets or even vehicle
  • Oct 24 2011: The Middle Eastern countries (Qatar in particular) are quite challenging - would be great to have a tool for countries with no street names (!!!).
  • Oct 24 2011: What about this?
    A map to see how seriously a specific area's polluted or clean.
  • Oct 24 2011: For large events, such as city-wide festivals, county fairs, arts walks etc, a map that gives up-to-the minute event happenings, including up-to-the-minute photos & tips.

    A feature where I could map out my "To-Do" list for the day. After making a list of errands, appointments etc, I could map out the route that would save the most time (or perhaps the feature would automatically do it for me?).

    A map that shows high-crime density areas. When one is visiting an unfamiliar city, one may take care to either be alert in those areas ares or to avoid them altogether.
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      Oct 24 2011: Yes, crime areas. Automated route for your to-do! haha. Your phone will really take control of your life!
  • Oct 24 2011: Online maps showing the nearest hospitals combined with information about which doctors are there, their specialities, their available timings - all in one-click would be really useful for a patient in times of an emergency. With just a keyword search with the name of the disease and the current location, the map could show the relevant information by the click of a button - wouldn't that save a few more lives?!
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    Oct 24 2011: I would like to have a map that show month to month how the world are changing. Now i can see how much rainforrest is missing from last month and i can sign my name with a lawnmoer, see the oilspills etc.
    And a map that shows where people r in need of help and how to help them. Mabye links to NGO's.
    And a map with housenumbers.
    Thank you
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    Oct 24 2011: I'd love to see a map listing sites of lesbian of color hotspots. It's a huge problem I've had in many cities that I visit. I'd also like a map that lists all the events that are going on in my own backyard. Isn't it odd that maps don't list events of any kind?
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      Oct 24 2011: Haha, we'll create the tools for crowd sourcing this information! Keep an eye on!
  • Oct 24 2011: Safe places to park and sleep
  • Oct 24 2011: geography to see how small countries are becoming. And relate that to the social media. With the land always moving we can see people being left behind in some areas
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      Oct 24 2011: Demography + geography over time? Yes, a great way to look into social issues and people
  • Oct 24 2011: Thinking of the blue dot on my iPhone, I'd like to be able to share it with others, and have them share their dots with me.
  • Oct 24 2011: We are building point to point tour guides for tourisme in 40 cities around the world and we are using Google Maps to share our Treks and Reviews! We have plenty of ideas from what is missing on Google Maps... but not really ready to share them on a public chat!

    But we think that maps should offer live RSS feeds for cinemas, theater and festival events!

    Visit our website and maybe we could share some more in private!
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      Oct 24 2011: Yep, we're building lots of tools for crowd sourcing., Message me on
  • Oct 24 2011: I would like to see a distance measuring tool. If I can plot a route on the map and the measuring tool tells me how much is that distance in miles/kms in terms of walking and biking. For example: to determine how many miles is a walk or jog in a particular park.
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      Oct 24 2011: Actually, Google earth does a great job of this. Download and try. But we could incorporate it as well.
      • Oct 24 2011: Thanks. But it does not seem to be there on regular Google maps website.
  • Oct 24 2011: I'd like to have a map to seach a place appeared in the famous movie, drama and etc when I trip to other coutries.
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      Oct 24 2011: Haha, yes, that would be fun. There are always places that look familiar and we think we saw it in a movie!
  • Oct 24 2011: Living in a large city with confusing parking signs, it would be nice to call up a map feature that would give specific simplified parking information "at the curb". For example, depending on the hour, it would tell you whether or not you could park in a particular spot and for how long. If you're wondering where to park, the feature would light up curbs in the area that allow parking for the particular time you plan to visit. Also, it could give options on parking garages and tell you what the going rate is at each garage.
  • Oct 24 2011: I think that having a small scale map inside of google maps, that uses the same layout (i.e. streetcam, satelite imaging), would be useful for: Theme Parks, Nature Reserves, College Campuses, More???
  • Oct 24 2011: For non profits and business, I would like to see mapping of various social media connections as a testing/assessment tool on both a primary level and secondary (shared, retweet, networked). Who are we reaching and where to enable us to measure the effectiveness or outreach need or whatever.
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      Oct 24 2011: ok, converting huge amounts of data to maps. All your retweets over the world, over time!
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    Oct 24 2011: Premesh,

    Keenly interested in this, as a developer/designer I am looking to map the birthplaces of those with Autism Spectrum Disorders as the emerge

  • Oct 24 2011: I would like to see "audio maps", which would give audio instructions. If you are riding a motorbike at 60kmph and heading towards a destination then you would not want to stop your bike and look at the maps to find out where to take the next turn. If these audio maps are linked to the GPS, then it would be easy for drivers to catch the right direction on the fly.
  • Oct 24 2011: I like maps as stories. I am thinking of a map which shows the places a person has been as a line/sequence. When the stories of two or more individuals are intersected, open circles indicate places they've shared at different times and solid circles indicate places they've been together.
  • Oct 24 2011: It would also be cool to create a sphere-screen instead of a flat screen, a type of electronic globe that could be used as the monitor for geographic programs to display all the geopolitical maps without distortion or centering effects.
  • Oct 24 2011: Well i think that MAPS are a great way for people to express their problems, because the demographic information adds context to the problem , maps are interactive enough for user friendliness and structured enough to track all the details statistically. So i would like to see a MAP where everyone can lodge there problems which will be displayed on the map and can be tracked by the administrators of the respective regions.
  • Oct 24 2011: So,, maybe have a map with a mobile app that will track your movements and records at set times, or distances. (ex. every hour or every 10 miles.) * add a feature that pulls names and address from yellow pages that has a clickable button that will display residence names and phone numbers. *Cool feature, add a zoning feature that breaks the map up into propertiess and shows land owners and their property boundries, and the size of their property. (not for sure if link your database up to courthouse information.)*display live road conditions.*let users input the conditions of the roads (lots of potholes, nice road recently paved, washed out in alot of places, etc)These are just a few ideas.

    *Resturaunt wait times. could be a user input field
  • Oct 24 2011: Among other things, it would be very effective and efficient to see on a map the following things:
    - Updated status of the traffic, work on the road, detours, weather conditions,...everywhere.
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      Oct 24 2011: Yes, that's true and maybe generate alerts, so everybody on the road gets warned. I'm sure we can do this!
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    Oct 24 2011: Maps with heavy population ares could be interesting. Videos, photos, events uploaded in the last X minuets, hours, days of certain categories/colors. So many things possible with a live updating map, people who need lifts, people who can give lifts, someone who needs a hand with the yard work.

    It could be a self updating system that enables thirdparty dev teams to work with different apis of social networks extra.

    Now i am all exited.
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      Oct 24 2011: Yes, we're building in third party APIs. make it very simple for people to build maps and share them live!
  • Oct 24 2011: I'd like to see maps that explain the social situation, like traveling without actually getting there. How about being able to chat with people that lives in the place that you look at? Why not throw in some historical facts and so on?
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      Oct 24 2011: Ah, chatting with people based on where they live! Yes, that would be nice, I can make friends even before getting there. And yes, lots of social information.
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      Oct 24 2011: Nifty idea!
    • Oct 24 2011: In addition, it might be much better to hear voice explaning history, social and economic situation, weather forecast and etc click on the speicific area.
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      Oct 24 2011: We were thinking of something like that. "community or space management" participatory management of spaces?
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    Oct 24 2011: What are some of the things you're doing now?

    Is it possible to do a map of a museum, or art show?
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      Oct 24 2011: Hmm, I'm sure we could, something on an Mobile app, so people could carry it around as they move?
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      Oct 24 2011: Lovely idea Linda! What about a virtual world over, cross cultural art show based on a theme? For ex. a Typography exhibit featuring pieces from all over the world.
  • Oct 24 2011: I would like to see the ability to add visual landmarks (perhaps from Google StreetView?) to make it easier for people to turn at otherwise unmarked road, know which exit to take off of a roundabout, etc.
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      Oct 24 2011: Great idea! Signage is always useful and poorly done by the authorities. Now we can have virtual signs!
  • Oct 24 2011: people, event timeline.
  • Oct 24 2011: increased detail in third world countries which allow for these endeavours...such as caribbean countries or african nations.
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      Oct 24 2011: What kind of endevours, Kent?
      • Oct 24 2011: by endeavour i meant mapping of the world
        There are some counrties which still will not allow these mapping works but there are also many poor countries which known mapping programs have little or no detail such as caribbean countries.
      • Oct 24 2011: Is there any means by which to contact you? I am a Civil Engineering Student and I would like to know more about this mapping project and if it can be used in thesis' and such.
  • Oct 24 2011: 1. I would like to see a map displayed on a Globe which can locate people, place and things (Virat Tiwari)
    2. A dynamic map to sense where I kept my things in house or office,
    3. A map that can track my territory and where all did I travel in last 5 - 10 years
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      Oct 24 2011: Ah, that's interesting, something personal, wonder if we can do that!
      • Oct 24 2011: Is your research work in progress? Are you providing the design aspects or complete solution? Is mobility one of the considerations? Have you looked into application areas and verticals?