Ottawa map app Notewalk lets users pin notes on maps

Three young Ottawa men have created and launched a social mapping tool that lets users pin their own notes on Apple's map.

3 young Ottawans launched free iPhone app in January, have more than 4,000 users so far

Adnan Patel, left, and Mehdi Aghakazem Jourabbaf, right, started working on the Notewalk app in June 2013. It launched in late January. Not pictured is Mahmoud Hosseini, who also works on the app. All three are co-founders. (Kristy Nease/CBC)

Three young Ottawa men have created and launched a social mapping tool that lets users pin their own notes on Apple's map.

When an iPhone user logs in, the Notewalk app pinpoints their location. The user can then post notes to that specific location, but only while the user is actually there.

Imagine you're at a restaurant on Bank Street and you've had a great meal or a terrible coffee. You can log in and post that information for everyone else using the app.

But it's more than reviews. People can post the location of great parking spots, or a note about a recent spate of bicycle thefts in a specific neighbourhood. If a certain sidewalk isn't accessible for people in wheelchairs, they can post that information while they're there.

Maybe a sexual assault happened in a park or close to a bus stop, and someone posts a link to an article about it to spread the word. Maybe news breaks and people at the scene log in to Notewalk to describe what's happening.

'It's a place for collaboration,' co-founder says

"It's genuine. It's written by someone at that location," said Mehdi Aghakazem Jourabbaf, who had the idea for Notewalk. 

"The example I give is the Boston bombings that happened last year. That's of course sad, and a lot of people talk about it, but [with Notewalk] only the people that are actually there can really say, oh my God, this is what happened.

"So the way we think of the information is, it should be tied to the map and it should be based on the people that are there, not just someone posting it from New York.

"It's a place for collaboration… If we can keep it simple and attract the right people, I think the service will do well."

Aghakazem Jourabbaf is a fourth-year political science student at Carleton University.

He's a co-founder of Notewalk alongside recent graduate Adnan Patel, who works as a software developer for Health Canada, and Mahmoud Hosseini, a software engineer for a video conferencing company.

The free app was launched on Jan. 28 and has more than 4,000 users from 15 countries so far, Aghakazem Jourabbaf says. Notes posted in the app can also be private.

The team is working on an update to allow users to comment on notes, among other things.

Eventually they hope users will be able to post photos and videos to the map, and to make the app available for Android users.

"It's something that needs work," Aghakazem Jourabbaf said.

"So once we get to that position where we say, OK, this is what we wanted Notewalk to be, we can possibly look for investors and say OK, we're going to go full time on this."