When Mike Safoutin first arrived in Seattle, he was fascinated by all the activities going on in the city. The trouble was, he couldn't find a way to keep track of it all.
Now, several years and a University of Washington Ph.D. later, Safoutin has started a Web site modeled after an interactive TV guide, but with local events and places instead of channels. LiveVillage, which makes its official debut Aug. 15, is a searchable map of the city that helps people find out what's happening at any location and at any given time. A preview of the service went up on the site this morning. Safoutin, who runs the University District software start-up Villageware, said his mission is to "create a live, changing virtual model of the place where you live."
He's already mapped out 100 square miles of Seattle, including 10,966 shops, 18,207 buildings and 92,322 dwellings, as part of his Lost in Seattle project. With LiveVillage, Safoutin takes digital mapping much further with software that continuallly updates the objects on the map. Businesses appear red when closed and green when open, for example. New icons pop up when events are happening now or in the near future.
Alan Eustace, Google's vice president of engineering, said recently that he would like to search for a class and be able to find a Web page with information on what is happening here and now. It sounds like Safoutin has brought the technology at least part of the way there.