Crowdsourcing a new map design for Paris’ subways


paris-subway-maps

Images via ratp.fr and checkmymetro.com

 

Creads, a Paris-based crowdsourcing platform for design and advertising, has recently launched held a design contest for CheckMyMetro. Fed up with the Parisian transport authority’s refusal to open its data to designers, the founder of CheckMyMetro wanted to find an alternative visualization of one of the world’s densest metro networks. The winner is an experienced graphic designer from the South of France, Antoine Raby, who has designed maps too. Here’s more about this initiative…

 

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“No search result for ‘metro paris'”, the website says

 

France has recently released quite a bunch of data (http://www.data.gouv.fr), also about the city of Paris (http://opendata.paris.fr), but none of if is about the subway. For security reasons probably. But Benjamin Suchar, the founder of CheckMyMetro, was not looking for data about the subway network in itself, rather wanted he to redesign the subway network’s map. However, the RATP, which manages the whole transportation network of Paris, was reluctant to provide him with a map… so he thought he would just crowdsource it!The metro map shouldn’t not only serve the RATP, but all the citizen and users of this public service! Opening data like the map (but also the schedule) would serve the public interest and foster innovation“, he says on the contest-page CheckMyMap.fr, where creatives where asked to build on the following visual:

 

map

 

He launched a contest with Creads, a French crowdsourcing-platform with a community of 40,000+ members. About 100 graphic designers submitted creations. They where submitted to a jury including the founders of Creads and the founder of CheckMyMetro, the chief editor of TechCrunch France and Gilles Babinet, the President of the French National Digital Council. A selection of 10 maps has then been proposed to CheckMyMetro’s fans on facebook, and Antoine Raby’s map appeared to be the most voted.

 

I’m glad to have won […] and to contribute to a subway map that will be freely accessible. I hope that this map will spread and that the community will be able to enrich it over time (Antoine Raby, winner of the design contest)

 

This new map will indeed be offered under Creative Commons license, which means that everybody can use it (while citing the name of the creator). The winning creator won an iPad 2, the recognition of the prestigious jury and got the satisfaction of contributing to the nascent Open Data movement in France. Antoine Raby is an experienced graphic designer who was interested by the challenge: “I liked the challenge because, even if the official map is very clear, it’s not to scale, so you can’t figure out the distances between station“, he told me.

 

extract-map

An part of Antoine’s map, where he added symbols and districts numbers (image via http://checkmymetro.com)

 

I already hear the grumpy ones, attacking creative contests and the casualization of design… Antoine doesn’t think that contests kill creative jobs: “it’s not because it’s open-source that it takes away designers’ jobs“, he says, before stating that he participated for the challenge and the fun of it. “I’m happy to have contributed to a basis that now everybody can use, everyone can customize“. The ‘Open Data’ argument is not a side-argument, as he hopes that his map will provide “a basis for others to work on… and to build upon“. What he thinks about the fact that CheckMyMetro could get a lot of credit for his work?

 

This is a false problem, because I get the articstic credit for the map. It says ‘From Antoine Raby for CheckMyMetro’, so they are like a regular client to me

 

Antoine lived in Paris years ago, and he has lots of idea about redesigning the maps for Paris: “Look at the map for the night transportation by bus, it completely incomprehensible, and they are very slow in updating it […] one could also put the subway and the bus networks on the same map, or add typographic information to maps for cyclists…“. Lots of ideas!

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