Mindanaoan IT engineer develops Google's precinct finder
by RG Alama
Davao City (5 May) -- Seeing Filipino's enthusiasm in using Google Map maker and realizing that automated elections will change many designated polling stations because of precinct clustering, Filipino Google engineer Dan Cedric Delima decided to build a tool that will help voters get to their assigned polling stations on Election Day this May 10.
Named as the Google Precinct Finder, the online tool uses community knowledge to make voter center information accessible to many Filipino voters.
"As we saw during Typhoon Ondoy, updated digital maps can be very helpful in a variety of humanitarian situations," Delima recounts the calamity which struck the country last year when many Filipinos used online maps to direct rescuers to stranded flood victims.
"Now that election season is upon us, what better way to extend Google's mission of organizing local information and making it useful to Pinoys than to involve the community in tagging voting centers on Google Map Maker," the General Santos-born Google engineer added.
Using Google Precinct Finder is as simple as dropping a pin on the correct location of the voting center on a map. After clicking on the "Find your precinct" button, users will be taken to a page where they can click on the "Help others find Precincts" link.
They should input the name of the city where they are registered to vote. The site will then display the voting centers located in that city. Users should click on the name of the voting center they want to map, and then after the map expands, zoom into the map to find and verify the location of the voting center.
Users can then click on the correct location to drop a pin, and then click the "Submit" button at the bottom. No technical expertise is required. The tool automatically collects input from users contributing the same information, which will go through the Google Map Maker peer moderation process.
According to Delima the map points for these locations can be useful even after the elections. Since most the mapped locations are schools, it can benefit a student attending a school in a new area or relief organizations could more easily find the locations (schools) that are used as evacuation centers during natural disasters.
In Davao City, volunteer mappers mostly coming from the local blogging community recently conducted a precinct mapping party using the Google tool. Bringing their laptops the mappers began tagging the locations of voting centers along with nearby familiar landmarks using Google's map-maker.
"Alam ko sa Davao, maraming schools ang nasa looban, mahirap hanapin. Delima who spent his high school years in Davao added. The tool he says will help reduce confusion on where to vote and the location of their new voting centers especially for new Dabawenyo voters.
Go out and map! Delima says who along with the Google team is inviting Filipinos to chip in by becoming volunteer mappers in preparation for the coming May 10 elections. (PIA XI) [top]