Playstreet is just such a great idea.

Basically, it’s a mapping tool that breaks the city of Seoul into 29 hotspots. You can choose the area you want to know more about, click the link and get information about the area. They do this in an unique way. They overlay street view images onto graphical maps. That way the user gets the feeling of being in that spot. You can also use it to find specific sorts of businesses in that area like hospitals and pharmacies (병원 and 약국).

 A Mapping Site Inspires A Collaboration and Gives Google Maps a run for its Money.

Screenshot of Playstreet.net's Ewha Womans University Station Map

By the time I left Seoul, I knew the city pretty well and could get around just fine. However, I did have my favorite spots. I spent my first couple of years exploring the area near my apartment and near my university: 시청 (City Hall), Myeongdong (명동), Jong-ro/Gwanghwamun (종로/광화문) and 이대 (Ewha Womans University). However, once I graduated and got a newspaper column, I started branching out to areas south of the Han River like Kangnam (강남역) and Apkujeong (압구정).

Having Playstreet to play around with and explore before going across town would have come in very handy. What’s really cool is that these folks aren’t using Google Maps. They’re going to the areas and taking their own pictures. Having folks on the ground in Seoul is essential because businesses open and close with astonishing speed in Seoul. I learned pretty early on if there was a store with something that I liked, I’d better buy it because there was no guarantee that the store would be there a few weeks later.

It’s a little late for me in Seoul, but maybe I’ll get to use it in another city soon. Why? Playstreet has partnered with a New Zealand company called Web Concepts. Together these companies have created ShowStreet. The slogan for catch phrase for ShowStreet is a “Virtual Street Walk”. Like Playstreet it displays actual photos of streets on top of Google Maps. Currently, ShowStreet is available in New Zealand. It will be launched in Australia soon.

Here is what ShowStreet looks like:

 A Mapping Site Inspires A Collaboration and Gives Google Maps a run for its Money.

Screenshot of ShowStreet's Queen St. Map

Here is a YouTube demo of ShowStreet:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfKP8zESM_I]

What’s smart here? They’re already building in the pay component of this service: getting businesses to pay to list themselves in their database.

The best insight is this might be a cost effective way for Korean tech start-ups to get the experience they need converting technology created for the Korean market to something that will take off in a Western market. It’s probably been much cheaper to launch this in New Zealand and to let it evolve from there. I wish these folks a lot of luck because I really want to have a version of Playstreet in New York, NY sooner rather than later.

If you agree and have something similar in mind, maybe email the CEO of Playstreet: 김현진, Kim Hyon-jin:

 A Mapping Site Inspires A Collaboration and Gives Google Maps a run for its Money.

Sources: