The team have been kind enough to answer some questions put to them by Google Maps Mania, about their experiences of using Google Maps and what they think the future might hold for on-line mapping.
Q. How long have GoogleMapsDev been making Google Maps mashups (for example, can you remember the first map the team produced)?
A.The first map that our team created was findbyclick back in March 2006. The whole idea behind that map was to create a destination for people to come together and share points of interest. In August of that year we then released it for the mobile phone.
Q. Have you got any favourite maps that GoogleMapsDev have created or that you are particularly proud of?
A. We’re proud of all of them, but if we had to choose a few we would start with the maps we built for the Obama Democratic National Convention and Inauguration. You can read more about it here: (http://www.googlemapsdev.com/2009/05/real-time-obama/) To think that it was put up on the JumboTron at Mile High Stadium for 60,000 attendees to see!
We also built a map for a large Canadian university where we had to expand upon the Google routing engine to help students find the warmest route to their next class. To see this map in action click here (http://www.uottawa.ca/maps/)
Q. How did you first get to work with President Obama on a mapping project?
A. It came about in part due to our relationship within the Google Enterprise Channel, as well as the other mapping work we had done with Google. They gave us a 12 day timeline and they knew we could deliver it in time.
Q. Your team has been involved in Google Maps mashup development almost from the outset of Google maps. What would you say have been the major developments in online mapping in that time?
A. Many of us remember MapQuest, with the single star on a static map. Look how far we have come.
Businesses are using information from their enterprise silos, extracting location components and displaying on a map (http://www.google.com/enterprise/earthmaps/customers.html) This is very powerful considering the above use cases are a sign that Google is entering a world previously controlled by ESRI.
Some other key developments include:
- Presentation of a lot of data (lots more than a single star)
- The availability of many sources of information to create thick mashups
- Scalability to serve millions of users at the same time
- Replacement of paper atlas with online mapping, and thanks to smart phones, such as iPhone, Nokia, Blackberry and Android, it has gone mobile. 240 million location-aware smartphones will be shipped in 2009
- The idea that Google Maps is a platform and not just a mapping “widget”
Q. Going forward, how do you see the future of online mapping and are there any current developments that GoogleMapsDev are particularly excited about?
A. One thing we’re excited about is we built this product SpatialDataBox that allows for a very economical way to manage the visualization of millions of points. We’re now using it for two of our clients within the business intelligence field.
Another thing is Google’s support for the Flash platform through Google Maps for Flash API. This platform gives you complete freedom to create visualizations on top of the map that were not possible before. Some use cases include geospatial visualization and data exploration. To read more about it: http://www.googlemapsdev.com/2009/06/google-maps-and-the-rise-and-fall-of-ajax/
Mashups will also target mobile devices and grow on these platforms faster than they did on our desktops because of the extra dimension of real-time location.