At first glance, I thought NavDog was just another Google map and event mashup. But it’s not – While NavDog is based on Microsoft Virtual Earth, it also has a layer of user interface on top of the map that shows real promise. You can easily recenter the map on surrounding communities, and floating windows provide context like the number of nearby events and their details. I liked this easy way of inspecting the events, but I was wishing they were ordered and displayed by date (at least optionally) so that I could get a sense of when all of this stuff was going on without clicking on each event one at a time.
I found some interesting events by inspecting my neighborhood. But because the events on NavDog are user generated, I sometimes came across stuff like “40 acres for sale” – someone had figured out how to get free advertising by putting in this “event” that zoomed to the location of the property they wanted to sell. NavDog’s blog seems to support and even perhaps encourage this sort of thing when it says “… you can find or list just about anything. We use the term event but that really covers more than just traditional events. You can list a business, a store or a year round market as well as anything you would consider an event.” NavDog may want to at least think about categorizing these types of content and providing simple filters – otherwise, I can see the system becoming a messy jumble of map-based “stuff” that’s, well, all over the map.
I asked NavDog founder Shawn Fredrickson about the decision to go with user content instead of event feeds. Shawn told me that while they’re currently seeding some events into the system, the “goal is to be 100% user generated content with a few exceptions.” From where I sit, I think the service would be more useful if it offered both user generated content and feeds from sources such as TicketMaster or Upcoming, perhaps with filters.
The site appears to be gaining a little momentum and has attracted about 1,500 registrations so far. Folks in the GIS and Virtual earth community seem to be buzzing a bit. The service was “officially” launched just a few weeks ago on March 30th and Shawn told me that the “traffic is beginning to skyrocket as people all over America begin to discover this great site and the fun bit of Americana it delivers.”
Thoroughly amused, I asked Shawn what got NavDog started.
“I began to look around the Internet for flawed systems and sure enough, I began to see silos everywhere – not only silos but gaps in information, inefficiencies in the user experience. Newspaper classifieds were a joke with 3 meager lines of text for some $45.00 that forced you to call the host of the sale and whip out a pen and write down directions, ask them what they were selling and so on. The event classified websites were merely an online extension of the same flawed model. Naturally I took a step back and looked at the entire space from the thousand mile view and instantly I saw a common thread that connected all of these systems, a thread that connected all of us, it was geography. So I began to model a system that would use the common thread of geography to tie vertical markets, silos and information gaps together and what emerged was and is NavDog, a living marketplace on a map.” – NavDog founder, Shawn Fredrickson.
NavDog’s blog also gives some hints about where the company is headed with this: “In the coming months and year our service will incorporate an integrated messaging system, Real-time route planning, and with a GPS enabled smart phone our system will allow you to quickly add an event to the map while you are at the event.” and goes on to tease us with “If this isnt enough there are numerous advances I cant tell you anything about because of the hyper competitive nature of the business.”
NavDog is based in Littleton and is currently seeking venture capital to expand marketing efforts and complete development.