Piotr Gawrysiak received a PhD in Computer Science from Warsaw University of Technology in 2002 after completing his MSc at this university in 1998. He is also a Warsaw University graduate where he studied Business Management and received MA in 2001. Currently an assistant professor at the Warsaw University of Technology, his research interests include natural language processing, information retrieval, text and web mining, software engineering and human computer interaction. In the past he worked as an IT project manager, a journalist and a consultant, participating in several projects in Europe, Africa and Asia for United Nations and The World Bank.
While Wikipedia is regarded currently as The Encyclopedia, many areas of human knowledge still remain outside of its scope. Geographical maps constitute a fine example. Almost all existing services (such as Google maps) contain proprietary data. The data itself seems to be well suited to wiki-style integration. Finally, maps are useful. In short - an ideal situation to be remedied by a community driven, collaborative effort, yet existing wiki mapping projects seem to be struggling instead of flourishing! I argue that the main reason is lack of proper tools. Instead of creating an accurate GIS mapping tool for Wikipedia we need a tool for drawing rough plans - that does not have to be geographically accurate or compatible with GPS file formats, but must be fast, easy to use for anyone and anywhere and must provide collaboration and control infrastructure essential for Wikipedia growth. Such a tool - named Wikiplan - is currently being developed at the Warsaw University of Technology.
Wikiplan is a system that can be used to collaboratively create vector diagrams, especially plans of cities. It does not require Java - it uses AJAX and SVG. It does not require accuracy. Finally, it is open source and designed for easy integration with MediaWiki.