Open Maps are a tool for digital ‘radical cartography’, challenging Google’s representation of the world; a cheap, portable, pirate WiFi map server developed as part of tech artist Josh Harle’s MuseumsQuartier residency.
What is Radical Cartography?
Radical Cartography is “an alternative to the typical, seemingly neutral vision of geographic space as a static field of mute infrastructure and unquestioned boundaries.” The maps borrow Google’s look and feel – pinch zoom, swipe navigation, dynamically updating map tiles – but present the maker’s own maps: anything from conventional representations to crayon drawn scrawls or biro-annotated sketches.
How does it work?
Open Maps are hosted via a Raspberry Pi single-board computer, which can be made weather-proof, and can even be run via battery or solar if mains power is impractical. With an 5dbi antenna/WiFi interface they have a range of about 50 metres, and when installed in an area effectively are ‘visible’ and usable within this range. The cost of each device with enclosure, power adaptor, WiFi, and appropriate weatherproofing is less than €100.