Open Web Mapmaker

I talked to Dr. Micah Altman at Harvard recently and he has a pretty good idea for a project. In short, use Open Source technology, and write some more, to create a web app that will let anyone draw their own maps. From there, build a community process where people share and discuss their maps. Maps would be accompanied by automatic statistical reports.

Current Open Source technology in the form of Geo Server can render map data and display it in a slick tiled, scrollable webapp kinda like Google Maps.

It needs a big heap of javascript UI for editing the maps, painting or selecting regions or clicking blocks or something else or all of those. It needs a bunch of server side Java to store user's maps and keep the editing context. That much for proof-of-concept as soon as possible might be key to building the movement.
Eventually it needs a social site with map pages posted by some owner and comments off that (possibly a community-blog format, with the posted maps being a user's "diary" entries).

Related technologies: Open Layers maps. PostGIS geo database.

News Recap, 03-22 to 04-16

2010-03-25, MI Republican John Walsh introduces HB 5908 in state legislature to give mapdrawing over to state staff.

2010-03-25, Paper editorializes desire for redistricting reform of some kind but not specifically either of the proposals currently in the works. A citizen initiative is going around and the legislature is working on something with less change.

2010-04-07, IL Dems suggest minor change to state redistricting (to counter bigger changes suggested by R and others)
IL Dems' bill, "IL Fair Map" proposed initiative

2010-04-15 Dems pass lesser reform measure through the state Senate on party line vote. State House and general ballot still needed for their constitutional amendment to change how redistricting works (a little).

2010-04-02 blog.oregonlive.com mentions initiative for 'indpendent commission' and current WA commission law.

2010-04-08, Utah ballot initiative. The "Fair Boundaries" group is proposing an 'independent commission' system. The Utah Republican party is opposing it.

2010-04-16 (AP) Utah initiative fails to get enough signatures.

2010-04-16 Republicans proposing lesser reform to compete with initiatives already on ballot. (In Illinois, Utah and Florida, the establishment party opposes change.)

2010-03-24 NYT, OpEd columnist Thomas Friedman writes a general call for centrism, impartial redistricting, "alternative voting" (IRV). He and "Larry Diamond, a Stanford University demcracy expert" need to be corrected about IRV.

Prison Gerrymandering
2010-03-24 NYT Editorial in favor of the "Proper Count of Inmates" in the Census, by where they used to live instead of in their cells.

Party vs Party
2010-03-21 Washington Post With eye towards redistricting, Democrats running their own fundraising effort for state control in response to Republicans.

2010-03-27, Seymour Lachman (former NY state senator) tells of back room redistricting deals and dirty tricks.

2010-03-29, Democratic Governors Association raising money on gerrymandering strategy/fear.