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  1. MapQuest celebrates its 15th Anniversary with our street team in Denver, CO

    MapQuest Street Team in Denver, CO

    MapQuest hit the streets over lunch today along downtown Denver’s 16th Street pedestrian mall to celebrate its 15th anniversary.  Our street team, outfitted in MapQuest gear, spread good cheer and provided a free service to people in need of directions.  Of course, we were also dishing out free MapQuest giveaways from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.  The anniversary celebrations continued downtown in LoDo (Lower Downtown) in MapQuest’s new headquarter office.  Earlier this morning, we stopped by Denver media offices  to share some “Questi Cakes,” the preferred breakfast of MapQuest employees.  Crews took a break and enjoyed some the treats from local bakery/dessert shop, Happy Cakes.

    MapQuest visits Fox News in Denver, CO to celebrate its 15th anniversary

    MapQuest visits Fox News for its 15th anniversary

    Tonight more than 240 guests will arrive at MapQuest’s new headquarters for an event including a press conference with AOL’s Huffington Media Post Group key executives Arianna Huffington and Jon Brod.  Joining them will be some of Denver’s key business elite and local influencers including Denver Mayor Bill Vidal.   Following the press conference, guests will able to explore the new space, network and relax with a MapQuest branded beverage.

    Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr to get real-time updates and photos of this week’s festivities and more!

  2. Fifteen years ago, a room full of geologists, physicists, software engineers and cartographers in Lancaster, Penn., unplugged the office coffee machine and inserted the cord to a server powering a new website.  The goal was to launch the first-ever, consumer-focused, interactive mapping site on the Internet:  MapQuest.com.

    MapQuest - Celebrating 15 yearsTo be honest, MapQuest’s roots stemmed much deeper.  For 40 years, we were a cartography company that created free maps handed out to gas station patrons.  From 1994-1996, we were a geospatial software organization, and  made the move to Denver – a hotbed for this industry.  So, I suppose we’ve always been in the business of getting people where they need to go.

    But MapQuest had bigger dreams.  The Internet was changing not just the map, but the content within it.  MapQuest saw the opportunity to use the map as life’s canvas for the 21st Century.  A USA Today article on “How the Internet Changed the World,” stated, “MapQuest started saving marriages in 1996 by offering turn-by-turn directions.”  But with more than 40 million unique visitors coming to our site each month and 4 million inquiries every day, there are a lot more reasons our users log on than getting from point A to B.

    We all recognize the physiological effect we experience when lost.  That, coupled with the stress of travel, and you’ve got the potential for an absolute roadside meltdown.  MapQuest aims to take the anxiety out of getting there.  Never mind the lack of baggage fees, MapQuest’s tools and enhancements make it easy to decide where to go, how to get there and what to do along the way.

    For the first 10 years, we maintained an online presence and established ourselves as a trusted guide for maps and directions.  By 2007, the tech bubble was behind us, the economy was strong and people were traveling again.  MapQuest began offering more than just map graphics; we re-introduced aerial imagery and added a gas price locator and fuel calculator to serve both the cost- and environmentally conscious.  Soon thereafter we added traffic alerts and incidents, updating them every five minutes.  Most importantly, we started moving from just a maps and directions utility to a digital guide – providing information that helped individuals make better decisions for their commute or travel.  And change was again taking hold.

    Just as the Internet forever changed consumer behavior, so too is mobile revolutionizing the way we consume information and explore our world.  There are 6.7 billion people in the world, and 1.3 billion are using their phones to access the Internet.  For many, this is the only way they connect:  Twenty-five percent of Americans report their mobile device as their primary means for surfing the Web (in comparison Egypt at 70 percent).  And access isn’t the only change afoot.  With the economy still rebounding, gas prices increasing and air travel…less than convenient…more and more folks are using tried and true transportation options that help them feel more in control.  Americans will take one billion trips this year and 850 million of those will be taken by auto.  MapQuest understands the “new norm” means value, last-minute decisions and flexibility along the way.  Our free, voice-guided, turn-by-turn smart phone applications make great sense not just for the road trip-planner, but for the errand-runner, urban commuter or staycationer.

    Our eyes set on the future, MapQuest will continue to provide accurate maps and directions with a greater focus on search and discovery.  To our customers, we want to be the sum of local and far-flung adventures, even the ones you didn’t see coming.  The element of where is in everything we do.  It’s how we describe where we live and where we want to go.  It’s how we reference new restaurants, how we determine if we can make it on time, how we tap into social connections, and how we consume and understand the news.  Where has a foundational relevance, but sometimes we don’t know what “where” we need.  MapQuest has begun ingesting content into our site that will engage users as they determine where they want to go, if they should walk, bike, drive or taking public transit, and what stops interest them on their way there.

    We’ve learned and grown along the way, but we have you to thank for our internal roadmap.  Thank you to the billions of people who have visited our site.  You have provided inspiration, motivation and a true purpose for the company.  You have also given us invaluable feedback over 15 years that helps us serve the greater good in better and richer ways.  We want to reward your loyalty with the energy, speed and innovation you deserve.

    There is also a long legacy of talented and passionate employees that have worked hard to create the best experience for you.  To them, I tip my hat.  Last year we rebuilt and rebranded the site to set the stage for the future.  We’re rolling up our sleeves and digging in, going on an adventure for the next 15 years.  We hope you will join us.

  3. Go green – it’s something I think we all really want to do, but frankly, it can sometimes be inconvenient!  Well, good news – MapQuest’s earth-friendly tools are super helpful and you’ll get the internal satisfaction of giving Mother Earth a big ol’ hug.

    Save Paper.  Go Mobile.
    Next time you get directions on MapQuest.com, try sending directions to your mobile phone instead of printing.  When you use our Send To Mobile tool, we’ll send you a text message.  Just click the link and the directions you planned online will be available right there on your mobile.  It’s incredibly easy and you’ll save paper and ink.

    If you’re already on the go, you can also choose to plan your entire trip from your mobile device.  MapQuest’s iPhone and Android app offers voice-guided directions (yes, it’s just like a GPS!) and it’s free.  If you’re on a different device, you can use our mobile website (http://m.mapquest.com).

    Transit, Bike and Walking Directions
    Hopping in the car is second nature to most of us, but why not try alternative transportation next time?  We can route you there based on the transportation mode you prefer – transit, bike or walking.  Just pick your mode of green transport and we’ll get you where you need to go.

    Alternative Fuel Prices
    With gas prices rising, many of you have been using our Gas Prices site to find the gas station near you with the cheapest gas prices, but did you know you can also use the tool to find stations with alternative fuel? Just click on the drop down and you can choose from Biodiesel, electric, hydrogen and many other fuel options.

    Drive Less
    Even if you drive a super-green hybrid, choosing the most efficient route saves extra time in the car.  MapQuest’s Route Planner tool lets you enter up to 26 locations and will reorder it based on the shortest or quickest route.

    Hope these tools are helpful this Earth Day and the rest of the year!

  4. The Webby Awards declares MapQuest an Official Honoree

    The Webby Awards, often called the Oscars® of the online and mobile world, just declared MapQuest.com an official honoree in the web services category.  As most of you know, we’ve made some big changes over the past year, so we are honored that such great minds appreciate what we’re doing.  If you’re not familiar with the Webbys, it’s an award honoring excellence in websites, interactive advertising, online film and video, and mobile.

    According to The Webby Awards official site, the honorees are selected by ‘an executive 750-member body of leading web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities, and Associate Members who are former Webby Award Winners and Nominees, and other Internet professionals.’  While that sounds somewhat exciting, it’s even better when you hear who is included in that list: musicians Beck and David Bowie, creator of “The Simpsons” Matt Groening, Virgin Atlantic Chairman and Founder Richard Branson, founding partner of Crispin, Porter + Bogusky Alex Bogusky, and many other folks with whom I wouldn’t hate to be stuck in a room. The members also include writers and editors from publications such as The New York Times, Wired, Details, Fast Company, Elle, The Los Angeles Times, Vibe and WallPaper.

    We’re also featured in Web by You, a concept from The Webby Awards and AOL, that highlights some great people in the industry and also encourages people like you to vote in the People’s Choice segment of The Webby Awards.

    Thanks for the honor, Webbys.  We hope to continue to impress you over the next year!

  5. For so many of us, it’s nearly impossible to understand the devastation that occurred in Japan following the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami — images from the disaster may be the closest many of us may come to comprehending the scale of destruction.  MapQuest recently obtained aerial images from our partners i-cubed and GeoEye, and we wanted to share these with you. Below are two sets of before-and-after images, as well as additional links to images of other areas and ways to support the relief and recovery efforts.  To see larger versions or to zoom in, click on the image.

    Before: Yuriage, Japan, just south of Sendai. Aerial image from April 2010

    Before: Yuriage, Japan, just south of Sendai. Aerial image from April 2010

    After: Same area as of March 12, 2011.  Like many neighboring coastal cities, Yuriage was nearly completely wiped out by the tsunami

    After: Same area as of March 12, 2011. Like many neighboring coastal cities, Yuriage was nearly completely wiped out by the tsunami

    Before: Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Facility. Aerial image from November 2009

    Before: Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Facility. Aerial image from November 2009

    After: Same area as of March 17, 2011. Several reactors were heavily damaged by the earthquake and tsunami. Authorities continue work to stabilize the reactors and prevent further radiation leakage.

    After: Same area as of March 17, 2011. Several reactors were heavily damaged by the earthquake and tsunami. Authorities continue work to stabilize the reactors and prevent further radiation leakage.

    Here are before-and-after images of two additional hard-hit areas:
    Rikuzentakata: Before and After
    Sendai Coast: Before and After

    MapQuest recently launched, crowd-sourced map service in Japan through a country-dedicated site, open.mapquest.jp.  Read more here on how image provided to OpenStreetMap by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency is available to the mapping community to help accurately portray damage caused by the tsunami and recovery efforts that are currently underway.

    AOL News and Huffington Post both have up-to-date information on relief efforts, as well as ways to support the recovery process.  Our hearts go out to the millions of people affected by this tragedy.

  6. Are you Irish, Irish at heart or just looking to enjoy some green beer this St. Patrick’s day? MapQuest is here to help you find Irish pubs and restaurants in your area. Now through March 18, type in your location on MapQuest.com and click the map toolbar icon of a four-leaf clover to locate the best places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

    Trying to attend (or avoid) one of the nation’s top St. Paddy’s Day parades? Here are some My Maps that outline events in New York, Chicago, Boston, Denver, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Dublin, Ohio, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

  7. MapQuest CruiserQuest at SXSWIt’s true!  We’re giving away cruiser bikes everyday during SXSW Interactive.  So, if you’re headed to Austin this weekend, here’s what you need to know to participate.

    It’s Easy
    Cruiser bikes are all about the laid-back lifestyle, so we made the giveaway easy-going as well.  Just find one of our street team members, show them that you’ve downloaded our FREE MapQuest mobile app (yes, the one with voice-guided directions), and you’ll have the chance to enter to win.

    Find the Street Team
    Dressed in bright green shirts and gray hats, we’ll be hard to miss.  Many of us will also be riding around on some amazing MapQuest-branded bikes so keep your eyes peeled.  If you still can’t find us, just check @MapQuestTech as we’ll be tweeting real-time as to where we are.

    When to Play
    As you can see in the poster (pictured right), we’ll be taking entry forms Saturday (3/12) thru Tuesday (3/15) and announcing the winner everyday at 4:30pm CST.  If a free bike doesn’t appeal to you, we’re also hosting happy hours from 4-5pm in the MapQuest booth both Monday and Tuesday.

    MapQuest's Street Team Bikes

    MapQuest's Street Team Bikes






    Why Cruiser Bikes?
    Besides the fact that they’re awesome, we are actually celebrating two recent bike announcements: bike routing on our MapQuest Open sites and bike APIs based on OpenStreetMap data.  We love the idea of getting more people where they need to go – this time on bikes!


    With this and everything else we’ve got going on at SXSW, we are looking forward to a fun, jam-packed week in Austin. Hope to see you there!

  8. MapQuest's BBQuest: Take a Road Trip to Salt Lick BarbecueIf you’re headed to SXSW®, we hope you’ll take a trip with MapQuest as we hold our 2nd annual BBQuest to the renowned Salt Lick Barbecue. If you somehow haven’t heard about this place, check out their accolades.  This year’s event will be even bigger, and will offer FREE, all-you-can-eat BBQ and drinks. This year, we’re also bringing a band: Shinobi Ninja.

    Here are the details…

    BBQuest: Take a Road Trip with MapQuestWhen:
    Sunday, March 13th 5:30-8:30 pm

    Where:
    Bus Pick-up at the Hilton Austin.  MapQuest will load the bus at the Hilton Austin around 5:30pm, then transport the first 250 people to this free (and delicious) event.

    All you can eat buffet at MapQuest's BBQuest

    Who:
    Attendees will include tech influencers and press, VCs, and entrepreneurs from your favorite and soon to be favorite start-ups.

    Participants will need a SXSW Interactive, Gold, or Platinum badge, and an ID to prove you’re 21 or older. Remember, you must be on the bus in order to take part. It’s first-come, first-served, so get there early!

    People are still talking about last year’s trip with MapQuest. Make sure you don’t miss out this year.

    Add the event to your SXSW event calendars:

    SXSW Schedule
    Facebook
    Plancast
    Upcoming
    Sched

    For more info on what we have planned for SXSW, check out our earlier post.

  9. We’re headed back to South by Southwest® this year and it looks like we’re gonna be pretty busy again.  For those of you unfamiliar with SXSW®, it’s an amazing conference and festival that covers interactive, film, and music.  If you’re passionate about any or all of these, it’s a can’t miss event.

    As we count down the days until we head to Austin, we wanted to share with you what we have planned in hopes that you’ll join us.  Here’s a quick overview; some might say we’ll be busy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!

    MapQuest participates in South by SouthwestMapQuest Road Trip (3.13 @ 5:30)Take a road trip with MapQuest to get free, all-you-can-eat BBQ and drinks, gorgeous scenery, and quality conversation with some great minds in the biz.

    Booth during Interactive + Film (3.14 – 3.17) – Happy hours, giveaways, and great developer chat.  We’ll be right near the 4th St. entrance so stop by.

    Giveaway (3.12 – 3.15) – We can’t give all these details away yet, but let’s just say you’ll want what we’ve got.  Stay tuned to our blog for more info.

    Das IronGeek (3.15 @ 3:00) – MapQuest will host one of 5 challenges in Das IronGeek, an event that puts a set of 6 press and bloggers attending SXSW through a series of fun, technology related challenges, all intended to test their “geekiness”.

    Panel (3.15 @ 3:30) – Josh Babetski, our Product Evangelist, will be taking part in a panel about Interoperable Location.

    Core Conversation (3.15 @ 5:00) – Christian Dwyer, our GM, and Maureen Sullivan, AOL’s CMO, will hold a core conversation about re-branding.

    Official Mapping Sponsor of SXSW - Download SXSW’s official mobile app, SXSW GO, to build your schedule, see a map of what’s going on where, and more.

    Stay tuned to our blog and @MapQuestTech over the next few weeks for more details.  Hope to see you in Austin!

  10. MapQuest for Android SweepstakesIn case you haven’t heard, we just launched the MapQuest app for Android™! We’re pretty psyched and, to celebrate, we’re giving away some great prizes and sharing a fun video.

    MapQuest for Android Sweepstakes
    Free tablet anyone? Between now and March 9, 2011, at 5 p.m. ET, you can enter for a chance to win 1 of 3 Samsung Galaxy Tabs™ or 1 of 150 MapQuest for Android T-shirts! Just head over to our Facebook page and enter your information for a chance to win. If you prefer Twitter, we’ve got you covered there too. Remember to share with friends once you enter as the more you share, the better your chances are to win.

    How to Make a QR Code Out of LEGOs Video
    We love that you can get apps by just scanning a QR code, but we wondered: What would make this even better? Why, scanning a QR code made out of LEGOs, of course! So we created a life-sized QR code from LEGOs and recorded the process. Have your Android phone ready as you can scan the QR code for our free app that appears at the end of the video.

    Need an Android app to scan the QR code? You can find some at the Android Market.

    Android is a trademark of Google Inc. Use of this trademark is subject to Google Permissions.