Carnegie Mellon Press Releases

Back to Press Releases

Carnegie Mellon News Service Home Page

Carnegie Mellon Today

8 1/2 x 11 News

News Clips

Web News Stories

Calendar of Events

Press Release

Eric Sloss

For immediate release:
February 16, 2005

Carnegie Mellon's STUDIO for Creative Inquiry Launches MapHub Web Site To Record the Sounds of Pittsburgh for an Audible Map

Friday, March 4, 2005

PITTSBURGH—The MapHub project at Carnegie Mellon University's STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, will launch a Web site designed to gather sounds of Pittsburgh at a workshop at 8 p.m. Friday, March 4, at Edge Studio, 5411 Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh.

MapHub is encouraging Pittsburgh residents to register at to help create an audible map of the city featuring site-specific sounds of daily life. The interactive, multimedia map will be installed in an exhibit titled "Making Things Public—Atmospheres of Democracy" in Karlsruhe, Germany, on Friday, March 18. Sounds may be contributed through August 2005.

The MapHub project allows individuals or groups to create Hubs, groups of users who share a common interest or friendship, those commonalities contribute to a shared map of the city of Pittsburgh and a shared messaging system and media bin. Users can join existing Hubs at or create their own based on a unique interest, skill or knowledge they might have of the city. Information about experiences, histories or hardships can be shared with other city residents at precise locations, allowing neighborhoods or streets to find information coinciding with their geographic location.

Information shared by users on a Hub is highly subjective, communicating the cultural vitality of a city such as Pittsburgh. MapHub will also feature the ability to view multiple Hubs as layers, including sponsored Hubs such as Port Authority Transit (PAT) bus stop times, Department of Public Works road construction, corporate violations, rental rate histories of properties, accident reports or even job listings. By forming relationships with integral organizations around the city, MapHub hopes to make public information easily accessible for residents and contextualized within personal stories.

For this portion of MapHub, users that create free accounts at the MapHub Web site will be able to contribute to a shared audible map of the city of Pittsburgh through their mobile phones. Once registered, a user will be able to use a mobile phone to dial in to MapHub at 412-894-0018. The system identifies the user, who can then begin recording their child, their bus ride or even street noise. After the sound is recorded, the location is added by keying in a street address, intersection or Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinate.

When callers log back onto the Web site, they can see and hear their contributed sounds as well as those contributed by other members. At the exhibit in Germany, visitors will be treated to a robotic street map of several neighborhoods in Pittsburgh including Lawrenceville, Garfield, Friendship, Shadyside, Bloomfield, Squirrel Hill, and parts of Oakland and East Liberty.

In addition to sounds, registered users may also add bulletin board items such as People, Places, Events or Notes. Once added to a Hub's shared map, other Hub members may comment on the items, which allows the information to change dynamically over time.

MapHub team members include Nathan Martin, research fellow at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and adjunct professor of art at Carnegie Mellon; Jeff Maki, assistant fellow at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and a master's student in information systems management at Carnegie Mellon; Carl DiSalvo, assistant fellow at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and a Ph.D. candidate in design at Carnegie Mellon; Hans Meyer, assistant fellow at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and a master's student in geography at Penn State University; freelance software developer Evan Merz; freelance illustrator and animator Glen Johnson; Greg Baltus, president of Standard Robot Company; and Scott Bricker, co-founder of Bike PGH.

MapHub was developed as part of an artist residency awarded to Martin by the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Heinz Endowments.

MapHub has been in development for the past year at Carnegie Mellon's STUDIO for Creative Inquiry. Founded by Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts in 1989, the mission of the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry is to support interdisciplinary projects that connect the arts to academic disciplines, such as science, technology and humanities, and to local and global communities.

For more information about MapHub, please visit or contact Nathan Martin at or 412-726-2338. For any other information, please contact Eric Sloss at 412-268-5765 or


Other Carnegie Mellon News || Carnegie Mellon Home