The Communication Studio

Mapping the Javits

Proposal to the Javits Convention Center (1986)

Author: John Vaughan

Mapping Techniques


This is the "traditional" approach to a Locator service: the database simply provides a series of maps which are the electronic equivalent of the type of map you might get in a brochure from a tourist agency. They are "absolute" in the sense that they do not attempt to tell you where you are at the moment, although they do give you the tools with which to figure that out for yourself.

The "absolute" map is advantageous because you can use it anywhere - assuming that you can figure out where you are. The weakness of such maps is just that; figuring out where YOU are on the map (and many people have very poor map-reading or "map interpretation" skills).


This is the highly personalized mapping system which identifies where YOU are and draws all of its maps and directions "relative" to that point. In an even more advanced version, such a system gives you directions relative to some OTHER point which you've specified; such as, "I'm here at the Convention Center, but I want to plan my evening. How do I get from my hotel (The Sheraton) to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, and - by the way - what's a good Italian Restaurant in that area?"

Obviously, such an approach is "software-intensive" if either the local kiosk or the remote host are going to process the "customized" mapmaking. The alternative is to create a mini-database of customized maps for each location - a very "production-intensive" option.

The Customized Locator may well be a reasonable consideration for a larger scale city-wide or regional service. It is a far more formidable database structuring and software development task than the "absolute" Locator. It is, however, a much friendlier and more useable service, in that it can reach that large portion of the population which has poor "map interpretation" skills. It is also more accessible to the target Tourist population which is largely unfamiliar with the New York region in the first place. And it allows for the generation of personalized map directions on a printout.

We believe that any Mapping Support Service which is developed today should be designed with an eye towards upgradeability to the "Customized Locator" in the near future.


We see two major implementations of Mapping Support Services:


This supports information "inside" a building or complex of buildings, such as a convention center, a shopping mall, a transportation center, sports arena, or hotel. It is cross-referenced to Event Calendars, Room Locations, Schedule Changes, and Facilities.


This supports information about the city at large. It is "neighborhood-based", transportation-oriented, and cross-referenced by activities/functions (Restaurants, Theatre, Shopping, Art Galleries, Museums, etc.) The Yellow Pages and Directory Services fit in here.

We anticipate that the initial version of a BUILDING LOCATOR Map Support Service for JKJ-CC would be based on the simple or "absolute" map technique, since the internal Locator for JKJ-CC is dealing with a relatively manageable area. Most of its value depends upon the effectiveness with which the Building Locator can be cross-referenced (or co-displayed) with other portions of the database, such as the Event Calendar. We have already described in greater detail our approach to the internal JKJ-CC Locator map in our previous proposals.

We anticipate that the CITY GUIDE Map Support Service can also be easily accommodated with the "absolute" map technique, since all information about the city will be relative to the JKJ-CC anyhow. Therefore, we can easily simulate "customized" directions from the JKJ-CC to various parts of the city.


We would propose to define a set of locations of specific interest in the city (such as "The Theatre District", "Mid-Town Shopping", or "SOHO/Tribeca and the Arts") which can be chosen for locating and travel directions (relative to JKJ-CC). We would support each of these "neighborhoods" with a updatable database of NAPLPS graphic map overlays and associated text directions which would take into account transportation issues (s.a. bus and/or subway service and schedules, an approximate price for taxi service, parking facilities and prices, and hints about how to deal with the "rush hour", on-street parking, etc.)

Initially, a CITY GUIDE information section may be self contained and concerned only with a specific type of information. For instance, "The Theatre District" would deal only with the neighborhood between 41st-53rd Streets and (roughly) 7th-8th Avenues. The maps would show the location of various theatres. Support information might include performance schedules and ticket prices/availability, as well as brief reviews.


The database structure would also allow for individual theatre industry-sponsored advertising screens, and could as well provide a venue for related advertisers (s.a. Restaurants, Night Clubs, Car Parks, etc.). In this way the basic service can be expanded to include relevant information outside of its own limited boundaries, and the service operator can charge a premium for "piggybacking" related advertising onto the "Theatre District" database.


The information in the CITY GUIDE also lends itself readily to a scrolling billboard display for presentation on "non-interactive" screens. Thus, we might create a 5-minute "Feature" which focuses on 5 plays in the Theatre District. The Feature itself would be made up of screens extracted from the "Theatre District" interactive database.

For example, each segment within the Feature (approximately 1 minute apiece) might contain a full-screen advertisement (15 seconds), Performance Schedule, Ticket Prices and Availability (15 seconds), Map/How to Get There (10 seconds), and a Brief Review (20 seconds). As with the interactive database, relevant "related" advertisers (Restaurants, Car Parks, Night Clubs) would probably also wish to "piggyback" onto such a Feature section. @newpage The Feature section has excellent advertising potential, as the screens themselves can pe priced "per exposure" on a time-sensitive schedule (like television ads). If, for instance, the Theatre District Feature outlined above is repeated every 20 minutes on a passive display screen, the potential audience in a location like JKJ-CC is tremendous.





Conventional "cosmic overview" maps which require the user to have some "map interpretation" skills in terms of placing themselves "into" the map and extrapolating their movement within that context. Although it may be a little daunting to some people, this approach is quite acceptable and useful, and is certainly better than nothing.


Use the latent intelligence of the information system to place the Mapping Support System "around" the user ("You Are Here"); it draws maps and gives directions relative to that point of view. Such a "relative" map has many elegant applications; it is also a far more formidable design and implementation task.

We propose that any Mapping Support System developed now should be of the traditional "absolute" type. We also recognize that we must move into the "customized" point of view mode at some point in the near future.



(Within a single building or building complex, most information related to schedules, facilities, and personnel directories)

The Bulding Locator is already specified in the JKJ-CC RFP. We feel that TCS is uniquely qualified to design that particular portion of the interactive database. It is in NYNEX/IR's interests to develope an elegant Building Locator system (quite possibly microcomputer-based) as a model for future "smart building" information systems.


(Neighborhood-based, transportation-oriented, most information related to specific activities and functions)

The City Guide is a critical support for any Directory-based information service. Whenever an information service is referenced in more than one dimension, it is almost always cross-referenced "By Location". And if something is referenced by location, it should be supported by a map.



The major opportunities for generating ADVERTISING revenue are:


Related area advertisers (such as Restaurants and Night Clubs) wish to place advertising in a specialized database (such as "The Theatre District").


Focuses on a few screens extracted from the interactive database and arranged in relatively short, directed Features, which are repeatedly displayed on the passive display screens. The Feature is treated as a "video short", both in terms of production values and pricing.

We propose that TCS provide end-to-end production services in the areas of the interactive database Building Locator, the City Guide and the presentation-only Feature Billboards. This would include the Display Advertising service as well.

We feel that it is adviseable to have one production agency handle this total area of the design service. The centralized design approach we offer will make it possible to transport advertising screens in and out of the Feature Billboards, Building Locator and City Guide portions of the database relatively efficiently.