A Testing City

Brussels is a Testing City for SplashMaps

Launching a new product is always heady.  But if you’ve read our free book (A Map for all Seasons) and followed our design tips, you’ll know that it all starts with the end user.

The SplashMaps Brussels Prototype

Eating dog food


if you make shoes, put yourself in them,

if you make dog food… eat it!

if you make maps… use them to escape from a terrorist incident (of course).

A good walk ruined!

Genuine use; Finding the best walking routes to the land marks

Well last week I’ve been walking a prototype around Brussels; getting feedback from the walkers, riders and runners in this compact, militarised and dangerous city.  I’ve been trying to put myself in their saddles, shoes and trainers  and take a critical view on our next range of detailed city centres. (Check our current cities now).

An incident – and the only Escape & Evasion Map was…

By day I had an office with a name above the door.  People came in, studied the map (scrunched it, wrote on it, stretched it and played with it).  Then in the mornings and evenings I’d set-off around the city to make discoveries!

Old & new blended in Brussels

It’s  hardly the most participative design, but the range of views has been really rewarding and the discovery verged on adventure!

From bijou pissage to le Grand Bang!

No loo escapes the accuracy of OSM volunteers

Day 1 was a rewarding day of checking the quality of Points of Interest.  Toilets were high on the list, and I was pleased that even the hard to spot ones were on the map and accurately positioned by volunteers using Open Street Map.

Locked! And the following night the concourse was sprayed with machine gun fire! Well marked, but the most dangerous of the Loos in Brussels.

Day 2 was literally explosive!  A Jihadist chose that day to detonate himself (fruitlessly thankfully) in the Central train station.

I was evacuated from the street where I was enjoying some amazing Gnocchi (Pre de Chez Nous, in the Grand Place quarter), and used the Brussels SplashMap to find my way to the action.  I was the only person there with a proper E&E map which attracted the attention of a Swedish newspaper who then interviewed me on security issues.

Access points and even the main internal walking routes make the map exceptional

Day 3 and my exploration through the parks and final round of interviews during the day gave me a complete spec on the sort of product that’ll work well for European Cities.

Marked up; some of the route followed and quality comments – marked with our felt tipped pen

In conclusion we weren’t far off with the assumptions we made!  Way points (like Churches and Touristic Points of Interest) could be highlighted better and interconnecting “green areas” would make the walking areas look even more appealing and the maps more colour balanced.  But on the whole I (and others) could rely on the Brussels City SplashMap.


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