Damiano Gui
2013, Italy
A Mobile Geographic Information System
Computer Science

An innovative and interactive Mobile Geographic Information System.

Before Google Map switched to a vectorial representation of the Earth, over 360 billion images were necessary to cover the entire surface of the earth. This figure alone gives us the feeling that we have reached the point whereby on one hand the virtual representation of our planet is nearly as extensive and detailed as the real one, and on the other, it can even bear information which we would be unlikely to find elsewhere. It is like saying that Borges's legendary Map of the Empire, which was supposed to cover the entire world, could now exceed its extension.

Luckily, we do not need oversize maps: computers and other digital tools act as “windows” and filters on this huge geographical database. However, a major problem stems from it: how do such filters work? Are they appropriate for our understanding? Are they consistent with our mental representation of space?.

In fact, the maps that we use daily when we are on the move (i.e. through our smartphone, or in a car's navigation system), are fixed and identical for everyone. “As they get more complex, with layers upon layers of information constantly added to them, they become more and more confusing. Because they need to cater for everybody's needs, not just our own”, says Damiano Gui, MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 in Italy for his innovative GIS project called Terrarium. Gui holds a Master's degree in Visual and Multimedia Communication Design from IUAV University of Venice, and his innovative design work has been recognised in several contests since 2011.

Terrarium is a GIS (Geographical Information System) for mobile devices, who returns user-generated data to the users themselves, allowing the creation of maps and customised routes which use real-time data flows at a given position, and the history of movements, to generate a richer and more meaningful navigation experience. “Terrarium turns a map into a live, dynamic and responsive object that interacts with us”.