Announcing the Official Launch of “Tu Tulum”

Tulum Raiders, Inc. proudly announces the launch of “Tu Tulum,” a community resource map and planning tool for everyone!

Follow this link for the full site:


Tu Tulum is a neighborhood resource map for the citizens of the town of Tulum. It is a one-stop resource where community members can find out what public resources are available to them, and where. It is also a forum where the townspeople can express their opinion and make suggestions to their civic leaders about improvements that can be made, which assets they value and which deficits they would like improved in their community.

The website maps out a variety of parks, bike rack locations, civic offices, and other points of interest, and includes info windows and photos about the location. These community resources are toggled by category, so viewers can turn them on or off at their viewing convenience. Tulum is divided into “colonias” or neighborhoods. These colonias are also mapped in a toggled layer, allowing residents to see which colonia they belong to. In order to connect residents with happenings in the community, a Twitter widget streaming Tulum-related tweets is also featured on the site. This allows community organizers to reach a wider, but Tulum- centered audience when tweeting about events happening in the city.

Why does this matter?

Tulum is a rapidly emerging Caribbean coastal town in Quintana Roo, Mexico. The neighboring global tourism destinations of Cancun and Playa del Carmen are a threat to Tulum’s future, bringing upon it rapid and unmitigated growth. The 18,000 citizens of Tulum are a diverse group of Mayans, Mexicans from other states and international small business‬ owners. These citizens share a common goal: to preserve Tulum’s culture and ecosystems.

With unprecedented growth on the horizon, the Municipality of Tulum hired the Tulum Raiders, to create a civic engagement tool to help their citizens to shape the future of their communities. Tu Tulum means Your Tulum. The neighborhood portal we’ve created is a tool to give the people of Tulum a forum in which to share their visions.

Purpose of our website:

The Tulum Neighborhood Portal has two functions:

1) A one-stop neighborhood resource map for the citizens of the city of Tulum.

2) A tool for the citizens to participate in city planning by identifying places they like or that need improvement. Citizens can also suggests resources needed in the community.

Main functions:

1) Community resources: toggled by category, so viewers can turn them on or off at their viewing convenience.

2) Red/Green/Magic Wand: users can directly click the map to add three types of markers to “evaluate” their neighborhoods.

Red: Indicates an unsatisfactory area or asset that needs attention

Green: Indicates a positive asset in the community

Magic Wand: Indicates a non-existing, but desired asset

3) Twitter Widget: it does a live search and streams Tulum-related tweets. Citizens/public officials can advertise community events or announcements by including “Tulum” in their tweets to be listed in the widget. This allows them to reach Tulum- centered audience when tweeting about events happening in the city.

4) Picasa API: retrieve photos from Picasa album and show photos in slideshows. Pictures will be shown in the box below the title.

Wire Frames :

Wire Frame Home


Wire Frame Participate

Wire Frame Participate

The Team:

Lisa: The connection to the community and municipal staff of Tulum. Lisa collected local knowledge to create the first-ever documented boundaries of the communities of Tulum. She also collaborated with Tulum residents to test the site and receive feedback for continuous improvements. She worked on the Picasa API slideshow, authoring KMZ files in Google Earth and contributed general design and coding support.

Yumi: The Coder extraordinaire. Yumi was the main coder for Tu Tulum. She worked tirelessly through the coding details of the various redesign and functional changes the website underwent over time.

Paola: The official “traductora”(translator), she translated the web content for Tu Tulum. This includes the special HTML keys for accent marks, which were one of the earlier challenges. She also worked on photo editing for the Picasa slideshow, bringing in the Twitter feed, and styling of the website.


User interaction using a Custom Functions

<Participate: red/green light + light bulb function>

We aim to make this website as an alternative tool to conventional community planning led by planners and professionals. Thus, user interaction is the key of our website. The function allows us to geographically map concerns and ideas the residents have on their own community.

The process of using this function is intuitive. Users click on the location they want to comment about, choose the type of the place (good, bad, idea), and make a comment. The “green light” and “red light” icons are also self-explanatory. It is easy for users to understand whether the place is seen positive or negative. The yellow light bulb icon symbolizes an idea that the user is interested in sharing with their community.

Considering the level of residents’ web familiarity, we tried to make this function’s user interface simple and easy to navigate. Input form is also kept simple (location, type, and comment) so that users would not be discouraged to give comments. Finally, the anonymity of the comments invites users to post any comments without the risk of repercussions that may be related to politics or other tensions in the community.

The photo slideshow streaming in photos from the Picasa API is an additional feature of Tu Tulum. Eventually, if users would like to contribute photos to the photo banner, they can directly be uploaded to a public Picasa album, which will automatically add them to the slideshow.

Custom Layers

The neighborhoods of Tulum were nothing more than unofficial borders known to some residents of Tulum by word of mouth. The Tulum Raiders employed AutoCad files provided by the municipality of Tulum to author KMZ files of the neighborhoods. This layer was then toggled by neighborhood, and one “all neighborhoods” toggle box to allow users to see what neighborhood they belong to, as well as the names and boundaries.

A Google places layer was also included in the website, highlighting the relevant community resources. These points include an info window containing a photo and description of the location.  The homepage also features a legend for the user to locate these points easily.


  • What worked: narrowing down the focus of the website, using sharp design, specifying the geography in twitter widget to eliminate Turkish bag pipe tweets.
  • What did not: Spanish accents (we did fixed the problem in the end).
  • What would you do if you had more time: upgrading the user interface (making side bars on the right and changing to a more minimalist design, easier single-access to the “participate” function…etc)
  • What is the future of the project: A testing phase of the website will be implemented with the support of the Tulum Municipality. If the website is successful, then the city may choose to buy server space to host the website in the long term. The website is also a model for the sister-city project of Little Tokyo. The Tulum Raiders are interested in benefitting additional communities with modified versions of this resource in the future.



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