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The Gig Economy for Mapping

A new startup wants to use blockchain and the Uber model to create free, open-source maps.
September 26, 2018, 6am PDT | Elana Eden
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Steve Hamann

CityLab's Laura Bliss profiles a mapping startup that aims to combine blockchain and cryptocurrency, open data, and crowdsourcing and gig work. In other words, the company plans to pay people to contribute to free maps. Bliss reports:

"With $1 million in seed funding, Streetcred is building a business model based on the blockchain, where digital tokens called Ether—a Bitcoin-esque cryptocurrency with a fluctuating dollar value—would be paid out to contributors anywhere in the world to populate maps with new points of interest."

The company will only map places, not routes. It hopes to compete with the current industry king, Google Maps, by making its service free to the developers, government agencies, and companies that currently pay Google up to thousands of dollars a month. Though still "refining" its business model, Streetcred says it would make money by soliciting "sponsorships" from companies like Uber or Apple to map points of interest in regions with less coverage from other services.

It could also save money by paying contractors in an unguaranteed currency rather than hiring employees.

In CityLab, Bliss compares the startup's model to other mapping platforms, companies relying on gig workers, and data services.

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Published on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 in CityLab
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