Capabilities of Serval Maps

The goal of the Serval Maps application is to provide a platform that allows users to collaboratively add information to a map. The Serval Mesh network is used to transfer data between instances of the application, and the map is rendered using data stored on the device. This means that the use of Serval Maps is not dependent on access to the Internet for download map tiles.

Rendering Maps without the Internet

The Serval Maps application uses the mapsforge library to render a map on the device using data derived from OpenStreetMap and stored on the external storage of the device.

Work is underway to provide data in the required mapsforge format to members of the community. In the meantime users can create their own datasets if they wish using the conversion tool provided by the mapsforge team.

User Location

A user can see their own location on the map, and the Serval Maps application retains a log of their movements. This data is shared over the Serval Mesh network using the Rhizome data sharing technology. In this way users of the map can see their own location on the map, as well as the location of other users.

A user can touch their own marker and see a display of their current GPS coordinates. Touching another users marker shows information about that user including the option to call them via the Serval Mesh software.

Points of Interest

Users collaboratively build information on a map by adding Points of Interest. A point of interest in the context of disaster or emergency response could be “this bridge is out”, “a building here has collapsed” or “emergency supplies are located here”. In the case of a research activity a point of interest could be “a frog colony is here”, “a large infestation of cactus is here” or “something really cool happened here”.

A user can add a point of interest in one of two ways:

  1. By using a menu item which starts adding a point of interest at their current location
  2. By long-pressing on the map, starts adding a point of interest at the specified location

When adding a new Point of Interest a user adds the following information:

  1. A title for the point of interest
  2. A description for the point of interest
  3. Optionally one or more tags to build a folksonomy

For advanced users it is possible to adjust the latitude and longitude coordinates of the point of interest. This can be useful for use cases where information may be collected manually using a separate GPS receiver and paper based information gathering.

Points of Interest are displayed on the map and can also be viewed as a list, which can be sorted by title or by date / time of entry. The list of points of interest can also be optionally restricted by tag.

Other Settings

The user has a number of different options to configure how the Serval Maps application behaves. For example the user can control:

  • the delay between map refreshes
  • the maximum age of location and POI information to display on the map
  • show fields to manually entry GPS coordinates when creating a new POI
  • automatically centre the map on the users current location on each map refresh
  • output location information in a JSON format as well as the binary format
  • use a series of mock locations for testing. These mock locations define a track within the bounds of Flinders University and therefore a map of Flinders University is required

Other capabilities are being added to the Serval Maps application as development continues. The development roadmap shows which features are currently being worked on.

If you have any questions, queries or comments about the Serval Maps application please contact us via email at