Thursday, July 31, 2008

Getting Where You Need To Go

Google's redesign of Google Maps has caused a bit of an outcry from regular users of Google Maps driving directions. To allay some of the queries that have been posted to the Google Maps Group Google have released this video today explaining how to use driving directions and how to print out the results (with an excellent feature to add street view images).



Via: Google LatLong: Tip of the week: Getting where you need to go

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More Sites Add Google Maps Street View

Two areas that Google Maps Street View can give web visitors an enhanced user experience is in real-estate and hotel search. When you are looking at potential houses on-line or you are searching for a hotel it is obviously very useful to be able to scope out locations with street view.

Zillow.com
screenshot of zillow
Zillow.com is an on-line real estate service with close to 3 million listings in the US. Now Zillow have added Google Maps Street View to every home details page in the areas covered by Street View.

Viewing the Street View of a listing not only means that you get a view of the property but you get a great sense of its location. You can see the view from the property and you can virtually explore the neighbourhood.

NYC.com
screen shot of NYC.com
NYC.com have added interactive Street Views to its attractions, events, hotels and business listings.

Visitors to NYC.com can now view hotels before booking. They can also virtually stroll around neighbourhoods for restaurants, stores and famous landmarks before deciding where to stay.

Update

NYC Bike Maps have also added street view to their bike maps of New York.

Immobilio
French real-estate search engine Immobilio is the first European site to add Google street view.

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Free Our Data

"Web 2.0 represents a historic opportunity to break down government's familiar walls of secrecy."
Neil Pierce, The Denver Post.

On both sides of the Atlantic there have been increasing calls for national and local government to open up data. The experience of Web 2.0 suggests that if governments allow free access to the reams of data that is collected on the public's behalf then the public will combine and mash-up that data in new and revealing ways.

In the UK the British government has recently established a Power of Information Task Force and a competition called Show Us A Better Way with a £20,000 prize fund to develop ideas suggested by the public that "will improve the way public information is communicated."

I'm sure that the Power of Information Task Force competition is partly the government's response to the Free Our Data campaign in the UK run by The Guardian newspaper. In the US the Open Govenment Working Group is running a similar campaign and they have created a good wiki of open source projects in the United States.

This week the British government announced that by the end of this year,

"Every neighbourhood in England and Wales will have access to the latest local crime information through new interactive crime maps."

One of the best examples of interactive crime maps is CrimeReports. CrimeReports has been adopted by police departments in fifteen states in the US. CrimeReports tags individual crimes on Google Maps so that residents are easily able to visualise crime and policing in their neighbourhood. The site has been frequently cited by UK political parties as the type of crime map that should be available in the UK.

In the UK the London Profiler is one of the best map mash-ups of data. It is the work of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Awareness (CASA) at University College London. With the London Profiler it is possible to make some very specific visual comparisons on a map of health, education, crime, culture and house prices. London residents are able to use the London Profiler to explore their neighbourhoods and visualise and compare data that directly effects their lives.

In the US government information specialist David Stephenson has been calling for "transparent government". Stephenson says that,

"Beyond shedding light on how government operates, far-reaching and unprecedented change can result when we make reams of data available, plus tools to portray them visually."

In a recent speech Stephenson gave a number of examples of how individuals and groups have mashed-up data in interesting and illuminating ways. Two of the examples he gives are built on Google Maps:

Incident1 maps police, fire, and emergency incidents from around the US. The map shows the most recent incident from each region. It is also possible to see a detailed map of the incidents for your area by entering your zip code or by selecting a region from a list.

IllegalSigns is a Google Map dedicated to mapping illegal billboards in the Toronto area. Neill Pierce cites IllegalSigns as an example of a website that "holds city government accountable for action".

Stephenson has called for government agencies to release data on a real-time basis. He gives the example of the District of Columbia's Citywide Data Warehouse, which uses RSS feeds to release data from 150 sources, ranging from crimes to pothole reports. In the UK the British government have created a Public Sector Information Unlocking Service. The idea in principle is that if you have any problems accessing public information then you can contact the unlocking service and they will strive to gain you access.

As governments and politicians wake up to the fact that opening up data may lead to innovative new ideas more freedom of access to public information does seem to be occurring. This of course provides great opportunities for map developers.

If you want some ideas of what can be achieved with that data you just need to browse through some of the wonderful Google Maps mash-ups that are featured in the right hand column of this page.

Reference

Public Data -Power in Our Hands - David Stephenson of Stephenson Strategies
Let our Data Go Free - Neal Pierce, The Denver Post

Update

In the UK the Royal Mail has also just agreed to make available for free its Postcode Address File for the purposes of the Show Us A Better Way competition. Hopefully this is just the first step in opening up the data completely. The file is the most up-to-date and complete address database in the UK, containing more than 28m addresses.

CrimeMapping have left a comment to promote their crime map. We had a fully look at Crimemapping and a few other crime maps at the beginning of July. You can read the review here.

I have also received an e-mail from UCrime to inform me about their service mapping crime on university campuses. I hope to do a fuller review of their site in the next couple of weeks.

I also hope to do a full review of Habitmap who also e-mailed about their new community mapping and social networking platform.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Population Summary Map

Population Summary Map

Mapperz have produced a stunning example of how the new ArcGIS JavaScript Extension for Google Maps can be used to link Google Maps with the huge amounts of data on the ArcServer Geodatabase.

The population summary map allows you to draw a polygon on an area of the United States. What this does is create a 'buffer' line which is sent to ArcServer which then returns the population data for that area to the Google Map. The data is returned as a clickable marker so that you can now view the population data for any block in your chosen area.

The census block data is then processed on the fly to the Google Charts API which generates a 3D pie chart. When you click on the census block polygon a chart is created showing a breakdown of the population by age.

Mapperz makes a big acknowledgement to Andy Gup for creating and making this code available to the GIS community. You can read more about how this map was created at the Mapperz Blog.

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Where Are You Going To Be?

As promised yesterday, here is the second part in our look at location based web applications. This two part post was inspired by Peter Batty's presentation at the GeoWeb conference last week so it seems only fair to start with his own project whereyougonnabe.

whereyougonnabe
Whereyougonnabe is a Facebook application that helps you meet your friends more often. You tell whereyougonnabe where and when you will be doing things in the future and can see when your friends will be close to you.

It is a great tool for keeping up with what your friends are doing. You can view your location and your friends' locations on Google Maps or Google Earth. Here's a video with Peter explaining the service himself,

Dopplr
screen shot of Dopplr
Dopplr is one of the better known future location services. Dopplr lets you share your future travel plans with your friends and colleagues. The service then highlights coincidence, for example, telling you that three people you know will be in Paris when you will be there too.

You can use Dopplr on your computer or your mobile phone and it links with on-line calendars and social networks so it easy to update your future locations.

Plazes
screenshot of plazes
Plazes was recently acquired by mobile phone company Nokia. Like the other future location services Plazes allows you to plot where you will be and see who will be crossing your path and what will be happening nearby.

One really nice feature of Plazes is Radar, which lets you explore an area on a Google Map and discover who is currently in that location and what places people have recommended.

TripIt
TripIt is a personal travel assistant that automatically organizes all your travel plans.

To build a travel itinerary you simply forward your travel confirmation emails to TripIt. TripIt then automatically combines your related travel bookings into a single master itinerary and searches the web for related information, including daily weather, Google Maps, driving directions, city guides and much more.

You are able to share your complete itinerary with friends or family who need to know your travel plans, or collaborate with fellow travellers on a trip. You can also create a network of TripIt Connections so you can view friend's travel calendars and get alerted when your travel plans overlap with each other.

Placely
screen shot of Placely
Placely also lets you plan a travel itinerary. Once you have entered a planned trip Placely will give you a page with maps from Google, a five-day weather forecast and content from Yelp.com.

With Placely it is easy to share your itinerary with friends and colleagues and see if their travel plans overlap with yours. On a Google Map you can see how close your friends are to your location and you can synchronize schedules with your friends.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Google Maps Gets A New User Interface

Google Maps has been given a nice new user interface. I was using Google Maps about twenty minutes ago with the old interface so I think this change has gone live in the last fifteen minutes.

The screen-shots below aren't very clear but you can just about see that the yellow tabs in the old interface (top) have disappeared and that the accordion effect to hide the search results in the left-hand column is now controlled by an arrow at the top of the map (in the lower screen-shot).



According to the Google LatLong blog the map is a 'tad' bigger in the new user interface. This seems to be a result of deleting the 'Search the map', 'Find businesses' and 'Get directions' orange tabs directly under the search box (top image).

Update
It appears that Google Maps directions may have lost some functionality (as pointed out by Doug in the comments). Apparently when you use the directions feature, you can no longer reorder the directions as you could before nor can you see the leg time/distance values any more.

The Google Maps Help Group has been inundated with complaints which seem to be focusing on the same issue of a loss of previous functionality in the driving directions. From the replies to the complaints it seems that "you should still be able to drag destinations in the left panel. The only difference is you'll use the little green circles in the "launcher" area where you input each address."

California Earthquake
By some stroke of fortune (although I wouldn't want to say good fortune) Google's new user interface has put the Real-Time Earthquakes Maplet at the top of its 'Browse Popular maps' list. Which means that a lot of users will have viewed the map below, which shows the earthquake, measuring 5.4, that caused buildings to shake across a wide area of southern California in the US this evening.



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Where Are My Friends Now?

Peter Batty gave a presentation at the GeoWeb conference last week that has generated quite a lot of positive press. In the presentation Peter explains his thoughts on the future of location based social networking, as well as introducing his future location service whereyougonnabe (more of which tomorrow).

You can watch the presentation here.

I really like Peter's distinction between current and future location applications and I thought it would be interesting to have a quick look at the examples he gives of each type of application. Tomorrow I'll have a look at future location services but today I'll concentrate on the examples of current location applications that he mentions in the presentation.

Zkout
Zkout screenshot
Zkout connects users to their friends and to recommended places that are near by. Zkout automatically tells your friends what you are doing and where you are in real time from your mobile phone or computer.

The service allows you to explore what's happening in your area right now on Google Maps, find out where your friends are and what they are doing right now and it also allows you to share videos and pictures from your mobile phone.

FireEagle
Yahoo's FireEagle is still in invite only beta. If you can get an account FireEagle lets you share your location with sites and services online. In essence FireEagle is an intermediary between your location devices (phone, lap-top, GPS etc) and location based web sites like Google Maps.

Loki lets you share your location with your friends via Google Maps. You can change your location at your own MyLoki page or (and this is the clever bit) you can download the Loki toolbar for your browser and update your location automatically.



The Loki toolbar can triangulate your location automatically. You can then share your location with your friends in a number of different ways. You can share the address of your own public page or you can embed a map in your blog to show your last recorded location or add a map to your Facebook account.

Dodgeball
Google owned Dodgeball is a mobile phone service that lets you find friends near by and inform any friends near by of your location. The service lets you ‘crush’ on friends on-line and also tells you when your 'crush' is near by.

Dodgeball also informs you of venues that are near your current location.

Where.com
where screen shot
Where.com have a number of location based widgets for your mobile phone. The widgets will help you find venues in your vicinity or connect you with friends nearby. Where.com delivers the best in local information from Eventful, Yelp, GasBuddy, Zipcar, ShopLocal, Starbucks, Buddy Beacon and more.

Also Check Out:

Google Maps on Mobile Round Up

Postscript
Anyone wondering about Peter Batty's surname might be interested to know that the name is common in Yorkshire, England and is often used as an example to show how genealogy can be used to illustrate social migration over time.

map showing migration of the Batty surname in the twentieth century

The two maps above show how the name Batty has migrated southwards in the UK between 1881 and 1998. I obtained the maps from National Trust Names.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Safe Roads on Google Maps

SafeRoadMaps
screen shot of saferoadmaps
Google Maps walking directions come with a warning that says, "Use caution when walking in unfamiliar areas." I am sure that the Google Maps team are working hard on various algorithms to determine the safety of different streets (my suggestion would be to combine a score from CriminalSearches and WalkScore).

What seems strange to me is that Google acknowledge that some streets are safer to walk down than others (even if they are unsure which ones) but don't warn that some roads are safer to drive on than others. Where is the warning to "drive safely on unfamiliar roads"? Where is the warning that "This road will kill"?

Of course Google Maps comes with an API so that the 'community' will fill in any gaps left by Google. Hence today we have the launch of SafeRoadMaps from the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety.

SafeRoadMaps overlays statistics from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System on Google Maps to give a visual representation of traffic safety across the USA. With SafeRoadMaps you can enter an address and view the roads that have the highest number of traffic fatalities in an area. You can also view dynamically generated maps that show how public policy has been implemented to improve transportation safety by region.

Fatalities are shown on the map with tags in the shape of an exclamation mark. You can get extra details on any fatality by clicking on a tag. The details tell you the nature of the accident, the sex and age of the victim and whether alcohol was involved in the accident.

What we need now is a feature to refine Google Maps driving directions to avoid traffic black spots.

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Create Embeddale Flash Google Maps

UMapper


With Umapper it is possible to create interactive Flash Google Maps, display those maps on your website or social network, export the map created to Flash ActionScript 3.0 or KML. It is one of the better map creation tools that I have seen. It excels in the amount of options it gives the user and has a very impressive feature to automatically add Wikipedia articles to a Google Map.

It is very easy to create a map with Umapper. Markers can be placed on the map manually or you can use a search box to let Umapper find the location for you. A third option is to search Wikipedia. With this option Umapper finds the Wikipedia article and places a marker on the map that includes the Wikipedia article and a photo.

I created the example map above in a matter of minutes using the Wikipedia search option. All I did was enter the location into a search box and Umapper automatically found the location and added the text and photograph from Wikipedia.

When placing markers there are several options. You can edit information window content, change the marker appearance, enter an exact latitude / longitude position, or delete a marker.

When adding content for the information window you are able to define the font type, size and colour. There are also options to align the text or to bold, italicize or underline text.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Embed a Street View

StreetCities
StreetCities is a nifty new service that lets you embed a Google Maps street view and map in a blog or website. Here is an example from Paris:



I particularly like the ability to switch between the Street View and the Map. I think I might be using StreetCities a lot in the now regular Fridays Maps Fun posts to show some of the more interesting street views found on Google Maps.

StreetCities' views are very easy to set up. It is just a question of finding your location on a Google Map (there is a handy geo-coder search to guide you) and then defining your map and layout options.

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The Latest YouTube Videos on Google Maps

YouTube Vision
YouTube Vision screen shot
Mibazaar has released three new Google Maps mash-ups that embed YouTube videos on Google Maps. The first, YouTube Vision, shows the most recent geo-tagged videos from YouTube embedded on a Google Map.

The videos play automatically and when one video finishes the map scrolls automatically to the next video. At the top right of the screen are 'forward' and 'back' arrows, which make it possible to fast forward to the next video or rewind back to a previous one.

Obama Vision
and McCain Vision
Screen shot of Obama vision
Ich bin ein Berliner?

Similar to YouTube Vision are two more video maps Obama Vision and McCain Vision. Both these Google Maps mash-ups show the latest YouTube geo-tagged videos from the 'news' category containing the keywords 'Barack Obama' or 'John McCain'. The Obama map in particular is interesting at the moment as it seems to be capturing Obama's movements on his travels abroad.

Other Video Mashups

Seero - live video tracking on a Google Map
MyTAGeo - Videos and webcams tagged on Google Maps
Virtual Tourism - my own video mapping site
TURNHERE - a travel and video site
Virtual Video Map - a Google Map of videos from around the world
Venividiwiki - a travel site that includes a number of videos

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Some Friday Google Maps Fun

Live Video on Google Earth
Sentinel AVE LLC have developed a system to play live CCTV footage on top of what looks like Google Earth. Here is a very brief demo video. There are more videos on Sentinel's website.



Both the Google Earth Blog and Ogle Earth have interesting detailed posts on this story.

The Worst Building in the History of Mankind
Ryugyong Hotel
The Ryugyong Hotel in Google Maps satellite view and in the GE browser

Dubbed by Esquire magazine as "the worst building in the history of mankind," the 105-storey Ryugyong Hotel in North Korea is back under construction after a 16-year lull. It will cost up to $2 billion to finish the Ryugyong Hotel and make it safe. That is equivalent to about 10 percent of the North's annual economic output.

Via: Mibazaar

More Ugly Buildings in 3D
Inspired by the Ryungyong Hotel I decided to create a map of some of the World's Ugliest Buildings using the new Google Earth Browser plug-in. The buildings are taken from lists compiled by Forbes, the BBC and Gridskipper.

More Coffee Maps
My Starbucks Closures Map from last week seems to have started off a trend. Here is a World Coffee Prices Map based on a list by Forbes. I can't believe some of the prices quoted on this map!

The Largest Compass Rose in the World
large compass rose
Painted on the bed of an enormous dry lake at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Centre in California is this huge compass rose. Apparently it is used by pilots for calibrating heading indicators.

Via: Deputy Dog

The New York Times And Google Maps
50% of The New York Times travel pages have Google Maps. (I could be stretching the definition of 'fun' a little here)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Two Ways to Build Google Maps Mash-Ups

Click2Map
Click2Map is an easy to use application to create, manage and publish on-line Google Maps mash-ups without any knowledge of programming. With Click2Map you don't need to know how to use the Google Maps API, you just need a few locations that you wish to map.

This week Click2Map have unveiled a number of new features, such as the ability to group related map markers in folders and the ability to add driving directions to your map. Both of these new features can be seen in this example map, San Francisco Night Out.

Another new feature is a productivity tool that lets you perform operations on multiple markers. Bulk operations allow you to update the content of several markers in a single operation You can also move or duplicate markers across existing groups and maps and geo-code them from their street address.

In celebration of the release of the new features Click2Play have released this funky new video advertising the service.



GoogleMaps.Subgurim.NET
GoogleMaps.Subgurim.NET is an advanced Google Maps control for ASP.NET 2.0. It gives you the full power of the official GoogleMaps API, without the need to write a single line of JavaScript code.

Simply using the the control in Visual Studio, and with a few lines of code you can create powerful Google Maps applications. This control is, in essence, an ASP.NET to JavaScript wrapper (everything that can be done with the JavaScript, can be done with this control), plus...


Other Google Map Creation tools are listed in the right hand column here

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Google Maps Walks the Long Way Around

Google Maps Walking Directions are still in Beta!



Apparently the Google walking directions in the example above are actually correct (see comment below)

The Mibazaar Blog found these walking directions today for a two mile walk from Detroit to Windsor. Google think that you should take the scenic route around Lake St. Clair for your hike. The detour only takes an extra day and 15 hours but the view is much better.

Via: Mibazaar

Tracking Bluetooth Devices on Google Maps

Bluetoothtracking
A Dutch website Bluetoothtracker is using Bluetooth sensors to track the movements of Bluetooth devices around the towns of Apeldoorn, The Hague and Haarlem (although only data from The Hague is live at the time of writing).

On the website the (unnamed) owner explains how he started tracking the devices in Apeldoorn,

"I ... set up 5 locations with a little USB bluetooth stick in each location to collect data. There has to be an internet connection at those locations. Therefore I am using locations where my family and friends live. They 'lend' me the space and the bandwidth. To keep the budget low."

Here is the location of someone named Nina at 1.58pm today:
screenshot of bluetoothtracker

Obviously, scanning people's locations by their Bluetooth devices raises a number of privacy issues (here is a Guardian article discussing this very issue). Blutoothtracking does block names that have first and last names combined, only last names, email addresses, phone numbers, company names, website names and anything else that might be traceable back to an individual. However if you do know Nina (from the screenshot above) it probably wouldn't be too hard to work out that this is her.

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Live Video on Google Maps

Qik, a mobile phone video streaming site, have teamed up with Ipoki, a live GPS phone position site to enable users to stream live video from a mobile phone on a Google Map in real-time.

You can read more about this new service on the Ipoki blog or you can see it in action in this YouTube video.



Previously Featured:

Seero -live and on-demand video on Google Maps

Via: Ogle Earth

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Animated Weather on Google Maps

On Friday we gave a sneak preview of the NOAA's work on showing an animation of precipitation on Google Maps. This week The Washington Post have produced an article called Rate a Radar that links to two more weather Google Maps that animate radar images of the weather.

Fox HD Radar

The Fox HD Radar map animates about twelve hours of precipitation on Google Maps. The animation is controlled by two buttons, 'play' and 'stop'. It is possible to pan, zoom and alter the transparency of the animated overlay.

The screencast below shows Tropical Storm Dolly at about 6.30 AM EDT.



Wunderground
The Wunderground weather map similarly lets you view an animated radar image of the weather on Google Maps. Wunderground lets you adjust the number of frames in the animation and, as with the Fox map, it is possible to adjust the opacity of the animated overlay.

The screencast below of the Wunderground map also shows Tropical Storm Dolly at around 6.30 AM EDT.



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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Google Maps Walking Directions

Google today added walking directions to Google Maps. An option to view walking directions now appears when you ask for directions for a journey of 10km (6.2 miles) or less. Google say "we'll try to find you a route that's direct, flat, and uses pedestrian pathways when we know about them."

Google announced that this new feature is in 'beta' as "we don't always know if a street has a sidewalk, or if there's actually a special pedestrian bridge for crossing a busy street." In other words Google's walking directions might not actually always return the shortest route for pedestrians.

This is an excellent new feature from Google Maps and I'm sure that walking directions will improve over time. Hopefully soon we will get cycling directions as well.

Via: Google LatLong: Pound the pavement

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All the Criminals Near You on a Google Map

CriminalSearches

CriminalSearches is a new website that lets citizens view a Google Map of their neighbourhood with all those with a criminal record who live in the area tagged on the map.

The Neighborhood Watch feature of CriminalSearches.com allows users to quickly discover if anyone with a criminal record is living in the surrounding community. Users simply enter a full address, or city and state, and are presented with a map identifying people in the area with criminal records. You can then click on the map to view detailed information about the identified criminals including name, age, current and previous addresses and complete criminal history. Different types of criminal are given different tags.

This Google Map is of course going to be of great interest to just about everyone. I'm sure you will be checking out your neighborhood in the next few minutes (if you haven't already done so). Moreover I can see this being a great tool for people looking to move house. Wouldn't you want to check out the criminal records of your future neighbors if you could? And if you had been thinking of buying a property in the area in the screen-shot above wouldn't you change your mind after seeing that map?

There are already a whole host of other crime and sex offender Google Map mash-ups. Check out the links in the right hand column of this page.

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Ride Sharing on Google Maps

Drijo
screen shot of Drijo
Drijo is an interesting concept in ride-sharing on Google Maps that allows people to auction off available seats in their car or search for free seats in other people's cars.

If you are looking for a ride you enter your starting point, destination and the date you wish to travel. Drijo then searches for rides that have been offered on that route and lets you enter a bid for the journey as you would for an item on e-Bay.

Like e-Bay the auction has a time limit and it is possible to view the highest current bid.

Drijo also allows users to submit car-pooling routes or search them in order to find others to start carpooling for regular routes to regular destinations. The site is available in English, Spanish, French and German.

RoadSharing
screen shot of roadsharing
RoadSharing.com is another car-pooling service that provides an easy way to find someone to share a trip with. RoadSharing provides a meeting point between those offering lifts and those in search of a lift.

You can add a route or search for existing routes on a Google Map. Currently most of the available routes seen to be in Italy. However the site is available in English, Spanish, French and Italian so could easily become popular in the rest of the world.

Other Carpooling Google Maps

eMotorPool.com - Google Maps carpool search
Carpool - Google carpooling Mapplet

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Boat Race Tracking on Google Maps

iBoattrack
screenshot of iboat track
iBoattrack provides three different kinds of real-time boat tracking on Google Maps.

Race Tracking is used to track the yachts in offshore middle-distance to long-distance races. Each yacht is indicated on the map (as in the screen-shot above). It is possible to select individual yachts in the race and their progress is then shown by a polyline on the map (see the blue yacht to the left in the screen-shot). iBoattrack is currently showing the 100th Race to Mackinac.

Not only is it possible to view a race live on a Google Map it is also possible to review an animated history of the race. Therefore Race Tracking can serve as a record of the race after it has finished.

Cruising Boat is another service offered by iBoattrack. Cruising Boat allows individual boat owners to track their own boats. Each boat gets its own dedicated, interactive web page "mapper" with photos of the boat and updated news clips. Anchorages and cruising tracks can be viewed as maps and charts or as satellite photograph images via Google Maps.

The third service offered by iBoattracker is Work Boats. This service can be used by commercial fleets to keep track of their offshore assets including but not limited to: barges, tugboats, ferries, cruise ships, and supply vessels.

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Planning a Gap Year on Google Maps

GoGapYear.com
Gapyear map screenshot
The British Government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office have teamed up with Lonely Planet to produce a gap year planning tool on Google Maps. Whilst gap years have traditionally been taken in the year between school and university or between university and full-time work they are also becoming popular for people taking mid-career breaks. Whatever the reason for undertaking a gap year this new Google Map mash-up will prove an invaluable aid for planning the journey.

When planning a year's round the world travel one of the most important things you will want to consider is the best times to visit countries. One of the best features of the GoGapYear map is it allows you to refine your search by month of the year. So, for example, it is possible to discover that July is a good time to visit Greenland (the beginning of spring), South Africa's Jeffrey Bay (good surf) or Igls (summer bob-sleighing).

The map also comes with a whole host of other features from Lonely Planet. There are photographs, podcasts and, as you would expect, Lonely Planet reviews of tens of thousands of destinations around the world. Now where did I put my back-pack?

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

CitySearch for iPhone

CitySearch for iPhone

CitySearch a Google Maps mash-up that lets you lookup locations of restaurants, hotels, bars, pubs, nightlife, shopping and services in all major US cities has now been optimised to work with the iPhone. If you don't have an iPhone you can see how it looks on this iPhone simulator.

The conversion works very well on a mobile phone. To search for locations CitySearch uses a series of dropdown menus; you choose a city from the first menu, you then choose whether you are searching for restaurants, shops etc before finally choosing the type of restaurant or shop etc.

The results are then tagged on a Google Map. Clicking on any of the tags opens an information window with the address and a brief description of the location. There is also the option to get driving directions to the venue.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Google Map Showing Starbucks Closures

Starbucks Closures Map
screenshot of starbucks closures map
Starbucks announced on July 1st that they will close approximately 600 company-operated stores in the US. The search terms 'Starbucks closures' has been top of the Google Trends list for most of today so it appears to be a topic that has captured the imagination of the American public.

Starbucks has released a pdf file of the 600 stores to be closed. I thought that it would be more useful to view the 600 stores on a Google Map so I produced this Starbucks Closures Map.

I geo-coded the stores using the brilliant Batch Geocode and then saved the results into Google Spreadsheets. I then used the Google Spreadsheets Map Wizard to build the Google Map. The whole process took about 30 minutes.

Update

Slate
have created a collaborative Starbucks Google Map. They want Starbucks lovers to share their stories about the stores that are closing. The map is open for anybody to add their thoughts and feelings. You can even add photos or videos of the store if you have them.

This is exactly the kind of interesting collaborative project that Google MyMaps was developed for. The Slate map may even be more accurate in geo-tagging the closing Starbucks than my map (check the comments below).

Google Maps Gearing Up for the Olympics

Google Maps now has detailed map tiles for the major cities in China.
screenshot of Google Maps China

If you want to have a good look around the stadiums built for the Beijing Olympics 2008 you should visit EarthSwoop's Beijing Olympics collection of 3d buildings. EarthSwoop use the Google Earth Browser plug-in to show 3d buildings built for Google Earth.



I also received an e-mail today from noicon.biz to say that Google Maps in Japan has been updated to show the names of some houses and commercial locations. You can see this change in the screen-shot below where some buildings seem to have been tagged with little red dots.
screenshot of google Maps in Japan

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Something for the Weekend

It has been a busy week for Google Maps Mash-ups. Here are few maps to tide you over the weekend:

Two UK Entertainment Guides and a 007 Map:

SoGlos
SoGlos
SoGlos.com have produced a hugely impressive map for the county of Gloucestershire in the UK. The map geo-tags over 3,000 restaurants, theatres, nightclubs, pubs and cinemas in the county. You can filter the results on the map by selecting specific layers to view.

Family Activity Planner
Family Activity Planner
The Daily Telegraph newspaper in the UK have produced a hugely impressive Google Map of 60,000 family days out and child-friendly activities.

To find activities users enter a location and the dates they are interested in viewing and the map returns an impressive number of suggested activities for that area.

James Bond Map
To celebrate the centenary of Ian Fleming’s birth, Times Online have produced a Google Map of the wartime haunts of Ian Fleming, as well as his favourite hotels, restaurants, pubs and clubs. The map also shows where James Bond gets his suits, shirts, shoes, hats and ties when he is in London.

Two Hotel / Booking Maps

HotelMapSearch
HotelMapSearch is a hotel and travel reservation site that is built around a Google Map showing over 70,000 hotels. Each hotel is tagged with information on the average price and the number of stars it has. You can search the map by price, location, hotel chain or by the star rating.

Users can use the tools on the site to share favourite hotels and views with friends and family.

Book by Map
Book by Map is a Google Map that shows hotels, restaurants, theatres and other attractions all over the world.

For each tagged attraction Book by Map provide links that will allow either online booking or provide details that will ensure you can make contact with the owners or operators directly.

And There's More ...

Wolpy
Wolpy
Wolpy is a social community site that allows members to build and share a map of places that they have visited. With Wolpy users can share their opinions of places, keep track of their travels, explore the world in search of great places to travel and discover where their friends have been.

Useamap and JustRoutes
Useamap, a website that lets users create their own Google Maps mash-ups and JustRoutes, a journey planner for Dublin have both been updated to include Google Maps' terrain and Google Earth browser views.

Geopeople

Geopeople
Geopeople is a website that allows users to research people with reference to space, time, and biography. The Google Map displays icons that represent people, placed with reference to their geographic locations.

The icons can be filtered by date. By clicking on an icon either a single individual or a list of individuals are indicated with links to Wikipedia articles. The map can be focused on any part of the world and the site is even being developed in different languages.

It's Friday - It's Google Maps Fun

Engadget posted a movie this week of someone using the new iPhone's GPS capabilities to update their location in real-time on a Google Map.



Via: Engadget

If Google Ruled the World
Google have big plans for geo-tagging the real world. Worth1000.com managed to photograph Google's first attempts.



Via: Worth1000.com

51 Things You Aren't Allowed to See on Google Maps
IT Security have posted a list of 51 areas where Google Maps satellite imagery has been digitally blurred. Including this view of the Huis Ten Bosch Palace in the Netherlands:



Animated Gif's on Google Maps
The NOAA have been working on animating precipitation on Google Maps. Although they are only in the testing phase the results are pretty amazing (works best in FireFox).

Via: Mapperz

Google Maps Makes Me Look Lazy
The Minister for Infrastructure in Queensland, Australia says that Google Maps makes him look lazy. He claims that the satellite imagery for Queensland is three years old and doesn't show a Gold Coast Desalination Plant that is currently under construction, a bridge and a couple of ring roads that have since been built.

The Minister has written to Google to complain. A Google spokesman has replied, "We're thrilled that the Minister is an avid Google Maps fan and will write back to him to thank him for his letter."

Google Maps on the PSP


More on this at royale.zerezo.com.
Via: Map Channels

Spying on Google Spying on You
The Register in the UK has produced a Google Map of all the street view car sightings in the UK. So remember Google you are being watched.


View Larger Map

Via: Mapperz and The Guardian

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Change the Background of Your Map!

A couple of new developments in the Google Maps API should be of interest to Google Maps developers. Today the Google Geo Developers Blog announced that it is now possible to set the background colour of any map you develop using the Google Maps API.



By setting the background colour you can change the colour of the tiles that appears before the map tiles load, and on the north/south edges of the world at the low zoom levels. This means that developers can now create maps that blend more with the colour scheme of their web site.

Via: Google Geo Developers Blog: Wacky Wednesday: Change the background color of your map!

The other big development is in the Google Maps Ad Manager. Up until now the Google Maps Ad Manager has only served ads in US maps. It is now serving ads to other countries. The Mapperz blog has created an example showing ads in the UK (if you don't see new ad icons displayed try zooming once or panning the map).

As well as serving maps outside the US for the first time Google have also changed the design of the ad icons, replacing the current white pushpin style icons with a new style where the ads will appear to be flat "on the map".

Via: Mapperz

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TV Trips on Google Maps

TVTrip

TVtrip is a very impressive search engine for hotels that uses Google Maps to show the locations of hotels. The site currently maps 33,281 hotels worldwide and includes 7,652 hotel videos.

You can search for hotels by location and by price and even check for room availability. What really sets this site apart however is the ability to view a video of the hotel before booking. When you click on a hotel tag on the Google Map an information window opens containing a video review of the hotel.

The videos all come with a number of navigation tags so you can fast forward to shots of the exterior, the lobby or the room etc. If you click on the 'Hotel Information' link the video minimises to the top left hand corner of the information window and the rest of the window is used to describe the hotel and list the hotel's features.

The whole site is very impressive. The videos, hotel reviews and map are all produced to a very high quality.

tripwolf

tripwolf is a social travel guide that combines editorial travel content with user generated content. Using tripwolf travellers can create customized travel guides of places they discover through browsing the site.

Each location comes with a Google Map highlighting points of interest. Beneath the map the location is reviewed and Flickr photographs and YouTube videos of the location are displayed. Beneath the multi-media tripwolf lists the top user-rated restaurants, hotels, clubs and shops.

Other Video Map Mash-Ups
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Spanish Google Maps Mash-Up Round-Up

GoolzOOm

GoolzOOm is an impressive cadastre map of Spain. The map is a comprehensive register of property in Spain, with details of ownership and the value of individual parcels of land.

As well as containing huge amounts of data the map provides a large number of map options. Not only are you able to view the usual Google map, terrain and satellite views goolZoom allows you to view an area in OpenStreetMap and Virtual Earth as well as providing detailed overlay maps showing individual real estate plots.

Ibiza A-Z


Ibiza A-Z is a Google Map mash-up showing over 1500 places to stay in Ibiza. The map includes hotels, hostels and even camping areas. The location of the different lodgings are tagged on the map.

Clicking on one of the hotel tags loads information and photographs of the hotel below the map. The information includes the services the hotel offers, the price of rooms and a detailed description. There is even a link to book a room.

Meipi

Meipi is a Spanish collaborative mapping site. Any registered user on Meipi can create a map around any location or subject and then other users can add their own information to the map.

Example collaborative maps created on Meipi are this Neighbourhood Map in Madrid and this cooperative map of Artistic Interventions in Sao Paulo. Meipi even has a collaborative map for Google's new 3D chat service Lively.

Plano de Metro

Plano de Metro is a Google Map showing the Madrid Metro. Each of the Metro lines are shown in a different colour. Stations are shown on the map as small white circles. Clicking on a circle reveals the name of the station and which lines it serves.

yVinos

yVinos is handy little map showing the region in Spain that Spanish wines originate from. So if you are going on holiday to Spain you could check what wine is made in the area that you are visiting before you travel.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Arizona Game and Fishing Google Maps

Fishing in Arizona

The Fishing in Arizona map shows the locations of 172 fishing spots in Arizona. You can navigate to each location via a side bar or you can click on the fish shaped tags on the map. When you click on a tag an information window opens informing you of the species of fish that it is available at that spot.

Many of the locations are also accompanied by photographs and videos of the lake or river.

Boating in Arizona

Boating in Arizona has 154 boating locations mapped. Clicking on any of the tags reveals information on the type of access, the average depth and the average acreage. Like the Arizona Fishing Map many of the locations come with photographs and videos.

Previously Featured Arizona Maps

Phoenix New Homes - search for property in Phoenix.
Arizona State University Campus Maps

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More Election Fever on Google Maps

Nader Road Trip Map

The Nader / Gonzalez Road Trip Map is a Google Maps mash-up showing the locations of the team's supporters as they travel around America gathering signatures to get on each state's ballots.

Supporters in the field are using cellphone SMS and Twitter to update signature counts and location. The signature/location is then fed onto a Google Map. Users of the map can click on any of the tags to check the number of signatures collected in that state.


Back at the beginning of June Google released its Elections '08 Map Gallery. At that point the gallery featured five map mash-ups; Primary Results, Fundrace, Twitter, Obama's Journey, McCain's Journey

Since then another seven maps have been added to the gallery.

Search Queries

This map visualises the amount of Google searches performed from all US states on particular dates for a particular candidate.

Campaign Trail
The Campaign Trail Map tracks the candidates as they make their way around the country.

Superdelegates
This map tracks which candidate each of the superdelegates has endorsed for President. Superdelegates get to cast a vote for the nominee at the 2008 Convention, and are not obligated to vote for the candidate who won their state.

Obama Videos
Videos of Obama's campaign speeches and media appearances are tagged on this map. Videos will be updated throughout the election year.

McCain Videos
Videos of John McCains' campaign speeches and media appearances are tagged on this map. Videos will be updated throughout the election year.

Electoral Votes
This map allows you to predict the election result by experimenting with different possible election results. You do this by clicking on a state to change the vote for that state. You can also load past election results onto the map.

US Senators
The US Senators map allows you to click on any state to get details of the two senators for that state.
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