LiveUAmap: How an interactive mapping tool became a global media resource
As events in central Kyiv (Kiev) unfolded before the eyes of the world during the Maidan protests in early 2014, conflicting news reports flooded the international media. At the same time, three founders of IT company Altwork began to think of a way to resolve the media mess and separate fact from fiction.
Their solution was an interactive map based on Google Maps, which could pinpoint government and protest factions street by street.
“We wanted to let people in foreign countries know more about Ukraine. So they could understand that we don’t just have Chernobyl and Klitschko, but we have real people that are experiencing one of the most tragic periods in the modern history of their country,” co-founder Aleksandr Bilchenko told tech blog AIN.UA.
As the Maidan protests led to the overthrow of the government and eventually a civil war in eastern Ukraine, interest in LiveUAmap and demand for more features spiked. A chronological view of news events was added to the map, as the project began to get noticed by bloggers and the media worldwide.
The unique aspect of the project is that all included news pieces are backed up by independent geo-information. This type of resource is therefore especially useful for analysts and journalists. A full-time professional journalist is hired to check all incoming facts and sources on the site. The resource has already been expanded beyond Ukraine, to cover trouble hotspots across the globe such as the Hong Kong protests and the Middle Eastern conflict in Gaza.
Today, LiveUAmap has 25,000 unique visitors a day without the implementation of any marketing methods, 70% of which are returning users. The core base of users is located in Western countries, with Ukrainians only amounting to around 10% of the audience.
Going forward, LiveUAmap has several growth strategies. One is a forecasting mapping model of potential regional crises, which can be highlighted and resolved before they flare up. Another is to become an SaaS platform, which could function as a strong marketing instrument. “We are an interesting project, which always looks to the truth,” underlines Bilchenko.