Aaron Erkenswick, a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison computer science program, has given back to his alma mater by creating an advanced campus map using Flash animation. Erkenswick finished the project with three other students and was supervised by geography professor Mark Harrower.
"Every other school map that I've seen, aside from maybe one, is a PDF or a very primitive interactive map," says Erkenswick, originally from Evanston, Illinois. "Our map goes beyond even Google Maps."
The intelligent search interface provides suggestions of departments, buildings, addresses, streets and bus routes as the user types a request in the search engine. Moreover, when a department updates its phone numbers, the map system automatically updates.
"In theory, it should not be out of date and, in theory, a bunch of people without map skills could update it," says Harrower.
Features of the map include -- highlighting a route to a building, seeing which buses pass by a bus stop and finding the distance between two points using an easy-to-use ruler tool.
"Perhaps the very coolest feature of the map is the ability for people to create their own versions of the map," says Harrower. "That's what makes the map so useful: an unlimited number of versions."
The developers will continue to beef up the map, even after the funding runs out in December. In a later update, Erkenswick hopes to link the map to other Web-based services the university offers, like buying tickets online for Union Theater performances. With the map, a user may be able to see the seats in the theater and select their ideal location.
"We're trying to make it easy for those who know nothing about campus to find out more," says Erkenswick.