December 14, 2020

Mapping Data for the World Around Us

Since 2015, Civic Mapper has helped nonprofits, water and sewer authorities, and local governments interact with geospatial data. Civic Mapper is a geospatial technology company that specializes in map and software development.

Since 2015, Civic Mapper has helped nonprofits, water and sewer authorities, and local governments interact with geospatial data. Civic Mapper is a geospatial technology company that specializes in map and software development. Their tools provide decision-makers with information to start solving challenges related to climate change, infrastructure, and mobility. Co-founded and led by Emily Mercurio, Ph. D., Civic Mapper continues to aid in the building of better communities in the Pittsburgh region and beyond.

Emily Mercurio in Frick Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Emily Mercurio in Frick Park (Pittsburgh, PA), using a GPS to locate the stream’s center for use in a GIS model. Photograph by Porter Loves.


Civic Mapper works with clients in two main ways. The team can act as an organization’s GIS department for extended periods of time, or take on specific projects. In the first client relationship, Civic Mapper will set up their client’s GIS technology, technical infrastructure, and software and then supply training so their clients can be self-sufficient. Secondly, the Civic Mapper team will work on specific projects with their clients through an iterative process. If their client needs to collect data, Civic Mapper will use GPS technology to map points of interest and work with licensed pilots to collect drone imagery.

When the Allegheny County Sanitation Authority wanted to connect more deeply with their customers, Civic Mapper created an interactive map called “Follow the Flush.” The map allows residents to track the path that their wastewater takes to the ALCOSAN treatment facility. Residents can also learn the number of miles their wastewater travels, how many hours it takes to get to the treatment center, and which communities it passes through. Civic Mapper also prepared and organized all of the data for it by unifying sewer data from 83 municipalities within the ALCOSAN service area.

For older cities on the eastern coast of the U.S., Civic Mapper created a tool that identifies issues with stormwater infrastructure. The model helps cities understand their capacities to handle severe rainfall and integrates data points concerning elevation, impervious surfaces, and soils. Civic Mapper is currently working to expand the product to more cities across the U.S. so they can evaluate their infrastructure capacities and adapt to climate change.

With more than twenty years of mapping and GIS experience, Emily’s team has also created a dynamic map for a Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC)  survey. The survey tracked residents’ feedback about how they use public transportation and where they would like to see more multimodal transportation hubs. CivicMapper linked the questions to a live map so that as survey takers added their information, the map generated accurate routes and visualized the data. The tool helped the SPC to continue gathering geospatial data during the Covid-19 pandemic when all in-person community gatherings were severely limited.

Emily brings years of experience as a geologist, GIS expert, and mapper to her company. When Emily was mid-career as an exploration geologist for an oil and gas company, she felt called to move into an industry that focused on resolving the harmful effects of climate change. Mapping had always been the focus of her professional life; so,  she decided to form Civic Mapper as a way to “better visualize information about the world around us, including the natural and the built environment.”

One of the biggest shifts for Emily was moving from an employee mindset to the mindset of an entrepreneur and founder.

“I had always worked for somebody and wanted to be the model employee… But I also found that as a woman in a very male-dominated field, advancing was very hard. So I gave myself the best promotion and became a CEO. And partly, I wanted to prove to myself that I am a leader. It was time to embrace that and just do it.”

Emily Mercurio, CEO of Civic Mapper
Emily Mercurio in Frick Park
Emily Mercurio in Frick Park (Pittsburgh, PA). Photograph by Porter Loves.

Emily has worked full time in her business since 2018. Financial forecasting and marketing have been some of Emily’s biggest learning curves. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the conferences that Civic Mapper would have participated in were cancelled, inviting Emily to take charge of a tactical marketing and sales plan. While their regular flow of B2B slowed, Civic Mapper worked with new clients on smaller projects.

Emily was already participating in another CEO coaching group when she joined her eforever peer group. After a time, she no longer needed the other coaching group because of the resources, business exercises, and community that she found in her eforever group.

“In one exercise, we were asked to place our business in the Adizes Life Cycle, which made me aware of the lifecycle of a business. I never thought of things that way and I didn’t know how to define where I was in the growth cycle of my business or the next phase I was shooting for. And knowing that I’m going to be experiencing these typical setbacks before the next phase was really helpful.”

Emily Mercurio

For inquiries about how Civic Mapper can work with your business, email the Civic Mapper team at info@civicmapper.com.  

Entrepreneur: Emily Mercurio

Business:  Civic Mapper

Social: Twitter, LinkedIn

Pittsburgh, PA

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