Overlays is a mapping software with a minimalist interface but packs powerful features under its hood. With Overlays, making stunning, interactive and intuitive maps couldn't be easier.
Overlays seeks to help you answer your questions by turning your data into beautiful, interactive maps in a snap. Or you can just simply make beautiful interactive maps with the click of a few buttons with almost ZERO learning curve.
What kind of questions? Everyday ‘Geo-spatial’ questions like:
- “Where should I relocate?” “Which school should I attend?”
- “What is the best location for my business?”
- “Which regions needs more attention for my campaign for office?”
- Or simply make stunning interactive maps for your blogs, presentations or websites.
Some Maps made by Overlays:
Overlays also allows you to analyze your data and predict future trends. Our entire vision, and design philosophy is centered on the question “What does a user need at their fingertips to make the most valuable, intuitive and insightful map?” Because of this, we scrapped our first version in February of 2014, and went back to the drawing board to make a minimalist and intuitive interface packing powerful features under the hood.
Overlays is a part of the 10 Billion dollar Geographic Information System or GIS industry.
Data Sources include:
- 1000's of embedded datasets from the US Census Bureau and other sources.
- You can also import your own data
- Social Networks like Facebook and Twitter. You can search from within Overlays and make your own dataset!
Overlays is for anyone who wants to visualize and analyze data on maps without the learning curve
Overlays is for everyday people like me who would benefit from a simple program that helps us use data in a manner that is simple and doesn't take digging into Google or Stack Overflow, or GIS Forums. So with Overlays we want to extend the power to GIS to everyday people, and in the process open up a whole new market segment that was otherwise not accessible before!
Overlays started as a concept for Western New York’s Panasci business plan competition and we reached the finals. Vincent Schutt, a veteran and my good friend severed as the CEO. Vince is an MBA graduate from University of Buffalo.
I (Surjya Ray), served as the CTO. I got my PhD last year from University of Rochester in Electrical and Computer Engineering. My expertise is in wireless technology and I worked with Toyota in 2011 and the worked is patent pending. Click here to view my LinkedIn Profile.
Tobias Scott-Killian, currently a grad student at the University at Buffalo School of Geography, served as our GIS officer.After the contest, I kept developing Overlays in my own time
Can I really do it? Yes you can!
First: Ask your question, say – “Where should I relocate?”
Second: Take a look at the Overlays start page – guess where to click? That’s right, on the ‘Add a dataset – the big green plus!’ shown below.
Third: Now the data portal will pop up to assist you (Fig 3). You may say to yourself – but I don’t know what to search for. So ask yourself where do I want to live? A place with affordable housing, low crime, people my age, available jobs. Enter “rent” into the keyword search and presto, you have just found the most recent census data on rent. With just a few more clicks you will know where the states or counties or zip-codes with the most affordable housing! Next search for 'crime' and find the safest, and least safe places to move are! And so forth.
You can also make your own dataset by searching the social media or import your own spreadsheet.
You will have one map on each tab. So you can view one data map for each data set you selected.
The decision making assistance comes by simply clicking the ‘Generate Overlay’ button. Simply select what you are looking for such as the ranges of rent, crime, unemployment, and people your age etc. Overlays does all the math for you.
Overlays will automatically generate a single map that will show all places that are the best match for what you are looking for - places with affordable housing low crime, available jobs, and with people your age. And Overlays have answered your question!
Overlays can also analyze and predict future trends.
Have you ever tried to use a complex software and not known where to click or what to do? So have we and that is specifically why we are doing this. Take a look at the ArcGIS interface below.
The ArcGIS software is complex, clunky, have tons of features and costly and takes years to master. Most ArcGIS users have had years of university training in the program and it is the GIS tool of choice for most Geographers.
The good news is we are not going head to head with ArcGIS or its developer ESRI. We want to bring a whole new group of people to the GIS market, people who are not geographers or GIS professionals but want to use the power of GIS in a simple intuitive. This stands to benefit not only Overlays but the GIS industry as a whole, even including the powerful but challenging to use ArcGIS.
- Clean and simple interface
- Almost no learning curve and yet powerful insights, analytical capabilities
- A low cost alternative for new entrants to GIS who don’t need thousands of complex features.
- Census Data integrated directly into the software
Overlays started as a concept for Western New York’s Panasci business plan competition at University of Buffalo. As we progressed through the competition we realized the huge importance of data as a decision-making tool, especially geospatial data. Overlays learned what entrepreneurship was all about from mentors, and judges. Through research of competitors we found that tools similar to Overlays exist, but their interfaces were complex and inaccessible to many potential users who are not geographers or GIS professionals. Overlays is focused on fulfilling the need for this under-served market.
Our alpha version was ready in February of 2014, we went back to the drawing board to create something better and more usable with an intuitive and simple interface. But we need to work full time on it to make it a success and hence Kickstarter!
Hope you will join us in our journey.
Thank you,Dr. Surjya Ray
Risks and challenges
If you have gone through our project discussion, you have a general idea of the GIS industry. In short, it is a $10 Billion industry and almost monopolized by the company ESRI with its software ArcGIS. Although we are not directly competing against the giant, it does draw comparisons.
Without market visibility and adoption even the brightest of ideas fall short and fail as with so many startups. E.g. I am still waiting for my 'Coin'...its been almost a year and a half since I pledged 50 dollars and were supposed to get the prototype last summer. So, of course there are risks.
If the project is successfully funded, some of the things we must do are:
- Make the base of the software strong and adaptive to future advancement of technology
- Get inputs from GIS professionals as well as casual users about their qualms or their needs.
- Create visibility and awareness
- Draw a solid business plan
- Show how Overlays has its own flavor and its own market and showcase its uniqueness
That is where Kickstarter comes to play. It can give us the visibility, gather interest and even make Overlays a success! Hopefully you will join us in our journey.
Dr. Surjya Ray
- (45 days)