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TC Christmas lights map becomes a "mapp" for your computer and smartphone

Dec 24 2011

The Victoria high-tech sector likes to talk a big game when it comes to getting things done.

It likes to say it sees deficiencies and fills them, sees opportunities and grabs them and if something needs doing, well they don their Nikes and just do it.

This week Tectoria — the brand the sector has slapped onto Victoria — showed just what it meant by all that talk.

Over the course of 18 hours, two very brief conversations, some texting back and forth and a quick consultation with “old media,” Tectoria filled a much needed hole with a map app (a mapp?) — a software application for smartphones, tablets and computers that gives anyone an interactive guide to the annual Christmas light display in Greater Victoria.

It’s full name is Light Sites: The Victoria Times Colonist Christmas Light Map 2011 by Tectoria and L3web.ca.

It all started with a tweet from Times Colonist advertising sales manager Pablo Miranda.

“I saw his tweet mentioning the Christmas light map that was in the paper, and I sent him a note saying it would be a great idea and easy to tie it into a map built into a smart phone and people could take it on road and it would be interactive,” said Dan Gunn, executive director of the Victoria Advanced Technology Council.

The two agreed, but given it was just a few days before Christmas it was assumed it would be a project for next year’s map.

Wrong.

During the course of some merry-making at Clive’s Lounge in the Chateau Victoria Hotel, Gunn decided it was and would be do-able this year.

At 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 21, Gunn took a sip of inspiration and made contact with software consultant Ben Leather of L3web.ca.

By noon of Dec. 22 the app, helped along by Google maps, was born.

“I love challenges and Dan and VIATeC have always been great so why not step up and see if what we can pull together,” Leather said, noting he had some background in mapping and a rough map engine that was ready to be used. “In the end we were able to get in and pull it together in a nice way.”

The result is a map plotting the locations of the winning light displays all over the region on an easy-to-read map, with small descriptions of each site and addresses.

Leather said the app will evolve, and on Friday he was working on adding new functionality to it — some routing info to allow people to plot a course from one lighting display to another lighting display.

“I didn’t expect we could get it done for this year but you speak to the right people at the right time and we were able to pull it off,” said Gunn.

The application can be found at: tclightsights.l3web.ca

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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