Ukrainian developers’ project Liveuamap.com had been created in connection with the local events in Ukraine but became popular in the world because of its modern and simple way to receive the latest news. It is an opendata-driven media platform where users can explore the map, messages, pictures and videos directly from the conflict zones or some accidents. Simply, comfortably and reliably.
We interviewed Rodion Rozhkovsky - one of the creators of the app – to find out the reason of developing such project, the secrets of success and some prospects for interactive map of events which has become a global media resource in a short time.
How did you get an idea of creating such project? What was the impetus for the emergence of Liveuamap.com – was it the military conflict in Ukraine, or something else?
We launched Liveuamap.com in February 2014 to cover the events of Ukrainian Revolution, - when some pro-Europe or pro-Russian groups claimed their cities, and it was very hard to track what's going on without map.
Liveuamap.com was ready on 19 February 2014 and we were ready to report Ukrainian events, but 3 days after this the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fleed to Russia, so we had to suspend the process. But next days Crimea was attacked by Russian forces, and we started firstly to report on the war in Crimea, then on hostilities in Donbas.
In September 2014 with first Ukrainian ceasefire in Donbas, and after our interactive map has reached the great popularity in August (in some days there were up to 150 000 users at the website daily) we have switched to other wars, conflicts, issues: Syria, war on Islamic State, conflict of Israel & Palestine etc.
How thoroughly is being checked all the information about the events, which then users will see in the application? After all, from a variety of sources Internet users can get contradicting information sometimes.
We are trying to find at least 2 independent sources for each story, also checking information by geolocation, source credibility and, sure, common sense. Also we are responding to all the feedbacks. Usually the disputes are referring to controversy of war topic - both sides are trying to alter info as they see the situation, its reason and consequences. Often controversy helps to find the truth and we think it’s important.
What contributed to the success of your project and its popularity among Ukrainians and foreigners?
We are not very popular in Ukraine, according to Google Analytics users from Ukraine is ranked only 13th place among our readers with less than 3% of overall traffic.
I think that one of the key point of Liveuamap.com success is a different way to present the news:
a) Only headers with all info that user needs (without marketing tricks to force user to action)
b) Map and "control territories" feature making users feel news more real(not some events taking place somewhere but here(point on the map) and now)
c) Also it's a "gamification" like in video/computer games
What future prospects do you see for Liveuamap.com project except the growing popularity among users and coverage of events in other countries? Perhaps some new avenues for using it or new features?
One of the feature aside of "news as news" that we are developing now is security adviser for travelers. Soon Liveuamap.com could be asked about is it safe to travel to, e.g., Egypt or Turkey and website will answer where is safe today and where is not. Information for travelers will be based on news, reports from each point of the world.
Independent media projects, such as yours, attract more users willing to receive updated and reliable information. In your opinion, does the growing interest to independent media projects mean that trust in traditional media is lost?
When we launched liveuamap.com, and revolution ended in 3 days, traditional media had been at that point – people wanted to get information from independent sources much more than from newspapers and magazines. It needs to pivot to fit very fast changing world. If media source can’t do this, it will lose its readers sooner or later. But in part of "long reads" traditional journalism cannot be replaced with citizen op-eds. And huge traditional media resources usually have more trust, than modern applications and some new web sources.