Street Fight’s September Theme: Mapping the Future

This post is the latest in our “Mapping the Future” series. It will be an editorial focus for the month of July, and you can see the rest of the series here


As summer winds down, school is back in session, and the world is still gripped by a pandemic, we decided it’s time for a change. After months of Covid-related themes, we’re devoting Street Fight’s September editorial focus to a bread-and-butter topic: mapping and navigation.

Before getting into the rationale and ins-and-outs, we’ll pause to provide a little context. As frequent Street Fight readers know, we have an overarching theme each month. Though we continue to cover the local media, advertising, and commerce spheres reactively, these themes provide some proactive focus.

These themes collectively characterize Street Fight’s editorial charter. Individually, they include everything from voice search to autonomous vehicles (see them all here). Some are ongoing staples, while others represent time-anchored trends which, again, have dominated the last six months.

Back to the theme itself, what does “Mapping the Future” entail? As a primary tool for consumer local search and discovery, mapping continues to undergo UX innovations and structural changes. We’ll examine these areas as well as mapping’s interplay with local search and SEO strategies.

Though mapping is more of a Street Fight staple than a trending topic, market signals indicate that the timing is right. In fact, we already got started last month with a look at Snapchat’s moves into local mapping — not just UX upgrades to Snap Map but also self-serve advertising for local businesses.

We’re also seeing mapping moves from Apple. After the black-eye left by last decade’s Mapgate, its been slowly revamping Apple Maps as a core component of iOS. That includes new street-level data, 3D maps for richer engagement, and features like scanning nearby buildings to improve location accuracy.

Speaking of Apple, it’s also launching local business ratings in Apple Maps in iOS14. Given Apple’s gravitational pull, the question is what impact this will have on the local reviews landscape. Will the move towards original local content bring us another Mapgate, or has it learned its lesson?

Meanwhile, Google looms as the 800-pound Gorilla in local mapping, and has likewise kept the ball moving for its core mapping assets. That includes more granularity in map interfaces such as terrain, as well as ongoing updates to local search initiatives that overlap with Google Maps.

So look out for the tag “Mapping the Future.” We’ll label posts so you can discover them daily or actively browse them. Coverage will include our own daily reporting, deeper analytical dives from columnists, and a steady flow of contributions from business leaders developing first-hand insights.

Speaking of which, we’ll take this chance to remind you about our editorial contributor program. If you have unique perspective and insights, we’d love to hear from you. We’re prioritizing and fast-tracking any submissions that fall under our Future Finders column or Apple’s aforementioned ratings move.

Reach out to us with suggestions for monthly themes, opportunities to contribute, and to amplify your brand messaging alongside this thematic coverage. On that note, we’re excited to also announce that we’ve launched the latest version of our media kit. Check it out, and come be part of the narrative.

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Mike Boland has been a tech & media analyst for the past two decades, specifically covering mobile, local and emerging technologies. He has written for Street Fight since 2011. More can be seen at www.mikebo.land