Swim Places Mapping

Swim Places Mapping

Crowd sourcing & GEO location apps

Cartography in
the digital age

At the beginning of the new millenium, map-making is in a new arena - GPS tracking, satellite navigation and digital maps in our pockets. Once being a domain of cartography experts, the sphere opened up for new business projects. So we joined in. The first one goes back to 2006, when we built the Digital Urban Guide, a software system based on PDAs. Later on we came with a couple of crowd sourced mapping solutions and here is how we do it.

Swimplaces - pure enthusiasm first

Swimplaces started as a solution for our own private problem - where to go for a refreshing swim during the heat of summer days. That was it. No business intention. Just pure energy. Pure enthusiasm. Everything on a free voluntary basis.

Solving a real tangible need

Here in the middle of Europe we don’t have a sea but the country is full of lakes, quarries, ponds and natural pools. And the Czechs love bathing outside in the nature. When summer comes, everyone looks for a place to jump into cool water. The problem arises when you are in an unknown area and there's no one to ask.

Organically grown is the best

One July afternoon, sitting in the office, we were thinking where to go for a swim. Everybody knew a couple of locations around Prague. An idea came to put them onto shared map to have easier choice where to go. We threw a couple of locations onto the Google maps platform and the first prototype of Swimplaces was born.

Soon we had more than 50 swim locations surrounding Prague. it was a really hot summer, more and more friends got engaged. Literally, they were pushing us for access and wanted to add new places. So we've decided - let’s open it and let people add new tips for a great swim

To be or not to be?
Open or closed community?

Now we stood at the cross roads - to go public or to keep control over the content? To allow strangers to add new places to all the walks of the Czech map? What if there would be trolls and spammers? We decided to go public and open up. And it appeared to be the best thing we could have done. The level of spam is minimal even these days.

Mobile rules them all

The popularity was growing fast. We had thousands of visitors, they mapped hundreds of swim places in the Czech Republic during the first summer. For the next season, we got together with our friends from Bioport and decided to create mobile applications for Android and iOS.

In the summer of 2011, we released a brand new mobile app called “Kde se Koupat” (translated as “Where you can swim”) and as temperatures went up so did the downloads.

“We never created any social strategy nor did we invest huge efforts into promoting it. The very idea was rooted in a very strong and generally shared insight and so the word about the project spread fast by itself. During hot days, we have thousands of people on the website and hundreds of mobile app downloads daily.”

Radek Pilmaier, co-founder of COEX

Awards on the top

By end of the second season there was more than 10 thousands mobile app downloads. The project became massively popular. At the end of the year we won the Internet Effectiveness Award, the major Czech prize, in the category of Social innovation.

Going international: 8 languages, again by crowd

To keep expenses low, we decided to test how much does the idea resonate internationally. We used the getlocalization.com service and asked people to help us to translate it into other languages. It worked beautifully. Currently we have 8+ fully translated web and mobile app versions. Besides adding the places, we also allowed people to add photos, comments and star the best locations.

Number one in swim spots mapping

As time goes by, new locations are added every day. We had to assign a new work force to check duplications and communicate with the community.
In spring 2014 we were asked by the portal Mapy.cz (used by millions of people) to become main partner for “Summer maps” map layer. This means another boost for the project and we are looking forward to cooperation with the biggest Czech internet company Seznam.cz who own Mapy.cz.

Build your own mapping project!

In 2012 we were asked by CZEPA (Czech Paraplegic Association) to help handicapped users map the country with wheelchair accessible places. Of course, there were databases for this already, but mostly offline only and never wheelchair community based. Wheelchair places have a lot of specific attributes so it sounded challenging to customize the project for different purposes, but having social responsiveness in mind and Czech VODAFONE Foundation supporting the project it was a clear “go”, or even better, a “must”.


What our lovely users say?

"Cool app and easy to use. Lots of awesome spots to be explored and enjoyed. Thumbs up Swim Places!"
Zdenca P.

"Smart and useful app. I always enjoy it when travelling to find suggested swim places and add new ones!"
Voloda S.

"With Swimplaces I enjoyed whole summer. I appreciate superb idea targetting wild swimming lovers."
Jana P.

Looking to create a similar project? We can make it happen!

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