Interactive map of needles and feces in San Francisco has great user interface

Too often, online maps of feces are not designed with the user in mind.  Take a look at the original map of feces in San Francisco, in this insightful article by my good friend Pedro Gonzales:

The map shows where human feces can be found in San Francisco, but the visual presentation leaves much to be desired.  You can zoom in to the block level, but all you see are heaps of brown.  If you were looking for more detailed information about public excrement in San Francisco, you'd expect much more in this day and age.

This urination map of New York City isn't much better.  All it shows are big yellow circles, as if a homeless man had simply dribbled over the map.

So it's a great relief that someone has finally produced a 21st-century map of feces and addict needles that truly shows what the marriage of inner-city ills and cutting-edge technology can produce.

Here, users can click on a block of their choice.  Human excrement is tactfully portrayed as scoops of ice cream, with each instance of feces being reported as a single scoop, not entirely dissimilar to the Michelin "three star" rating system.

The greatest innovations come with the photos.  We've had Google street views for years, and now we have San Francisco needle views.  Want to know what the needle situation looks like just outside City Hall, or at United Nations Plaza?  Depravity is never more than a click away.

The map, while good, could even better.  It could use a "traffic" layer, so users can find out where the busiest areas of trafficking are.  It should also have a layer that tells us which parked cars still have their radios.  And I can't wait for a virtual reality headset to go along with it so we can actually feel as though we are walking in the city's drug dens without risk of being mugged.  But overall, it's a very good first effort!

Due to the dot-com boom, San Francisco is one of the richest cities with the brightest minds.  Isn't it great that they have put their know-how to use to produce such a valuable tool?

Ed Straker is the senior writer at