Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Are you Brave Enough to Enter?

Are you brave enough to venture alone onto the abandoned island of Hashima?

In June Google added Street View imagery of the abandoned Japanese island of Hashima, in Nagasaki Prefecture. Hashima Island - The Forgotten World is an amazing tour of Google's Street View imagery of the island, which includes the historical background of the featured locations and the desolate landscape.

The site is a great guide to the island, adding context and the back-story to Google's amazing imagery of the island. The Street Views in this tour have been enhanced with some CSS3 filters to create an even spookier atmosphere which is intensified further by the accompaniment of some suitably spectral background music and sound. The children's voices and school bells that play when you stand in Hashima Primary School playground made the hairs on the back of my neck stand-up.

Hashima Island - The Forgotten World is a Chrome Experiment, so you will have to view the site in Chrome to get the full effect.

Tagging Street View

Graffit Map is a fun Street View application that allows you to add graffiti to Google's panoramic imagery.

The app allows you to select any location where Street View is available and draw directly on top of the Street View image. Users can select the brush size and color of their spray can and then start adding their tags to the world.

When you are happy with your graffiti you can export an image of your creation. The export consists of a jpeg, which you can share a link on Twitter or Facebook, or download for your own use.

Hat-tip: Google Street View World

Dronestagram is Instagram for Drones

Dronestagram is an Instagram type application for sharing aerial photos captured by drones. Users can post aerial pictures to Dronestagram and share their photos with the world.

Browsing Dronestagram is a fun way of exploring aerial views of the world. Each photo posted to Dronestagram is accompanied by a Google Map showing where the picture was taken. Hopefully in the future Dronestagram will introduce a world map displaying all the posted photos on one map.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Google Maps' Best Views

Google has unveiled a smart new community website, just for Photo Sphere users, called Views. Photo Spheres are 360º panoramic photos that can be snapped on Android phones.

If you aren't a Photo Sphere user don't worry, Views is still a great way to explore both Google Maps Street View imagery and Photo Spheres captured by people around the world. The site highlights some of the best panoramas featured on Google Maps (the bigger blue dots on the map seem to indicate Street Views and the smaller dots Photo Spheres). The site really is great way to explore the world and is great fun to navigate around.

If you are a Photo Sphere user then you can get your very own beautiful Views page. Your page contains all your panoramic photos and provides a great way for you to share your Photo Spheres with all your friends.

The Prezi Map

I've used Prezi, the popular presentation tool, countless times to demonstrate some of the cool ways people have used the Google Maps API. So I'm delighted that Prezi themselves have now used the Google Maps API to anonymously map Prezi users in real-time around the world.

The Prezi Collaboration Map shows how people are using Prezi around the globe. The blue dots on the map show where users are either working together or presenting a Prezi to someone else online. Blue polylines show the connections between users at different locations. Dots without a line mean users are collaborating in the same area, office or house.

Dónde está Wally?

Businesses have begun to get very creative with their use of Google Business Photos on Google Maps. None more so than Spanish new media agency Maslow.

They have not only added indoor Street View of their office in Valencia but have turned it into a Where's Wally game. Can you find Wally? Hunt around the Maslow office in Street View on ¿Dónde está Wally en Maslow? and you just might be able to track him down.

Hat-tip: Google Street View World

50+ Real-Time Transit Maps

TransLōc create real-time bus tracking maps for institutions throughout the USA.The maps use the Google Maps API to show buses moving in real-time in universities, airports and other locations.

Each map allows users to select bus routes on the map and view the current live positions of buses on the route. The map also shows the location of all bus-stops on each bus route. If you scroll down to the bottom of the TransLōc home page you can find links to all the TransLōc real-time maps.

Adding Custom Map Tiles to Google Maps

Emily Bennett of Portsmouth History Picture Map fame has created another amazing tutorial, in which she explains how to create your own map tiles and add them to a map using the Google Maps API.

In The Google Maps API and Custom Overlays tutorial Emily looks at how you can use MapTiler or GDAL2Tiles to create map tiles from your own image. She then demonstrates how you can add your created custom map tiles to a Google Map as a custom overlay.

The tutorial comes with a demo of the finished map. Alternatively you can check out the 1896 map of Portsmouth added to the Portsmouth History Picture Map.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Google Maps on the Down Slope

The Hill Mapper San Francisco makes great use of the Google Maps API Elevation Service to show the direction of the slopes on San Francisco's streets.

The uphill streets are colored red and the blue streets go downhill. The darker the color of the street, the steeper the hill. If you move your location on the map the colors of the streets dynamically update to reflect the new directions of the slopes, relevant to your new position.

I'd love to see cycling directions added to this map, with a route dragging option, so that you could plan a cycle route that avoided steep uphill climbs.

Where's the emergency Google Maps?

The Toronto Emergency Incidents Map is a Google Map of Toronto Fire Fighters call outs.

The map allows users to view the locations of current emergency incidents being attended by Toronto Fire Fighters or to view all the current day's emergencies. Each incident on the map is categorised by type of emergency.

It is possible to click on individual markers to view details about the incident, including the alarm level and the units dispatched to the scene.

Tracking Monarch Butterflies on Google Maps

The Monarch Butterfly Migration Explorer uses geotagged photos from Flickr to track sightings of Monarch Butterflies in the US and Canada.

The map allows users to view heat maps of the number of tagged Flickr photos for any year from 2008. Each year's heatmap shows the number of photos up to the current date, so it is possible to compare 2013 with previous years. The difference between the number of monarch butterfly photos taken in 2012 and 2013 looks to be very worrying.  

The creators of the map warn that the rise in mobile cameras is likely to have led to an increase in photos over the years.

Restaurant Inspections on Google Maps

The Guardian has released a Google Map of food safety inspections carried out on UK food outlets by the Food Standards Agency.

All the red dots on the Hygiene Ratings map indicate premises that failed an FSA inspection. Users can click on individual businesses to view the name of the business, when they were last inspected and what their inspection score was (a score of 0 indicates urgent improvement is necessary and a score of 5 shows the business received a very good food safety rating).

The Atlanta Health Inspections Map is a beautiful Stamen Design OpenSteetMap that uses the Google Maps API and Fusion Tables to visualise restaurant health inspection scores in the metro Atlanta area.

As well as being a thing of beauty the map has a useful purpose in showing Atlanta diners which restaurants are safest to eat in. The red map markers indicate the restaurants with the lowest health inspection scores and the green markers those restaurants that passed their inspections with flying colors.

The Seattle Food Inspection Map lets you examine the food inspection ratings for Seattle restaurants.

The map includes a nice slider function that allows you to search for restaurants in Seattle based on the inspection score. For example, you can set the slider to show only restaurants that have a score between 0-45 (a score of over 45 indicating a poor inspection).

Alternatively you could search for restaurants that you might want to avoid by setting the slider to only show restaurants with a score over 45.

NYC BigMaps has used the Your Mapper map creation tool to map restaurant inspections and 311 service calls in New York City.

The restaurant inspections map displays New York City Department of Health inspections across 5 boroughs since Jan 2008. You can search the map by category, date range, keyword, and location. The map then displays restaurants on the map at the location you searched.

Green map markers indicate restaurants with no health violations.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Google Maps of the Week

Yarr, Pirate Maps uses the Google Maps API to create a distinct pirate themed map, complete with animated waves, birds and pirate ships. There may not be much serious intent behind the map but I am impressed by the results and the imaginative use of the Google Maps API elevation service and the Google Places library.

One impressive feature on this map is how the ship and wave map markers are only placed in the sea, the sea-gulls only appear near the shore and trees only appear in parks. The elevation service of the Maps API is being used to determine sea and shore locations. The Google Places API is being used to find the locations of parks.

Alex Wellerstein's NukeMap has proved to be a very popular Google Maps mashup.The application allows users to view the likely effect of different sized nuclear explosions on any location in the world, using Google Maps.

Much of its popularity comes from the fun of blowing places up on a map. I mean what could be better than that?

Blowing things up in 3d - that's what. Alex Wellerstein's new app, NukeMap3D, uses the Google Earth browser plug-in to allow users to detonate nuclear bombs on their chosen location and view the effect in glorious 3d.

Now you can view the effect of your dastardly deeds mushrooming above the 3d buildings of the cities you target. If you select the 'animate mushroom cloud' option you can even view a slow motion animation of your bomb exploding.

SaferRoute is an interesting attempt to create a route planner that avoids areas with a record of high crime. Using crime data from Lothian and Borders Police Reports, this Google Maps app will return travel directions, for Edinburgh, Scotland, that try and avoid crime hotpsots in the city.

If you enter two addresses into the app you will be shown a Google Map with two routes highlighted. The safest route is shown in green on the map and the fastest route is shown in red. Beneath the map turn-by-turn directions are also given, with each street on the journey given a safety rating. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Maps of the Week

You might be surprised at how many cities you could name on a map that has no text labels. Even without text labels you could probably name many worldwide cities just from the general shape of the road networks and other mapped features.

But can you guess a city with no other mapped features except the locations of Starbucks branches?  The Slate Starbucks Map Quiz requires you to do just that. It presents a series of global city maps with only the locations of Starbucks shown. You are given four possible cities to choose from and, after you make your educated guess, the full OpenStreetMap of the city is revealed.

Riding the New Silk Road is an interesting interactive story from The New York Times.

The Silk Road is a centuries old trade route from Asia to Europe. Hewlett-Packard has apparently revived the route as an alternative to shipping electronics from China to Europe by sea. This NYT feature looks at part of the modern route using a vertical scrolling map, illustrated with photos and videos from one section of the modern route.

Global Land Temperatures is a heatmap of world land temperature since 1900. The map shows over 100 years of monthly land temperature data collected from over 7,200 weather stations around the world.

This data visualisation was created by Halftone. You might also like their Story of The US Told In 141 Maps.

There has already been 1,240 shootings in Chicago this year. The Chicago Times has created a Chicago Shooting Map to show where people were shot in Chicago, broken down by community area.

The darker the shade of blue on the map, the larger the number of victims. A bar graph in the map sidebar displays the number of shootings by month and the latest victims of gun crimes is also listed.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Oh Google Maps - You're so random

I think that the Google Maps API Styled Maps feature is still underused by many Google Maps developers. That can't be said of Kim Asendorf.  

Kim Asendorf Maps uses random stylers to create a different looking map every time you refresh the map. Press your browser refresh button and you will be taken to a random location, at a random zoom level on Google Maps. You will also see a new configuration of colours of the map tiles in each new map.

To infinity ... and beyond!

The WebGL Moon Demo uses a texture map from data collected by the Clementine spacecraft to create an amazing photo-realistic 3d map of the moon.

The demo was created by Cory Gross using WebGL with the Three.JS JavaScript library. There are more details about how this demo was created on Cory's blog.

100,000 Stars is an stunning interactive visualization of over 100,000 of our nearest stars.

The map actually shows the location of 119,617 nearby stars derived from multiple sources, including the 1989 Hipparcos mission. You can pan the map using your mouse and zoom in and out using your touchpad or mouse wheel. Click a star’s name on the map to learn more about it.

The Asterank 3d Asteroid Orbit Space Simulation is an amazing WebGL application that shows a view of our solar system with over 580,000 asteroids mapped. It is possible to rotate, zoom and pan the simulation. It is also possible to refine the asteroids shown by most valuable and most accessible (just in case you have any asteroid mining plans).

PlanetMaker is a great application that allows you to create and tweak your own planet using image textures and lighting. It is great fun being able to add Saturn's rings to Earth or adding clouds to Mars. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Australia's Economy on Google Maps

The Regional Australia Institute has launched a comprehensive, free, on-line tool to explore regional economic assessments. The [In]Sight application uses the Google Maps API to provide a mapped interface tracking the competitiveness of Australia’s 560 LGA and 55 Regional Development Australia (RDA) regions.

There is a vast amount of data, organised into a large number of categories, that can be explored on the map. It is possible to view the RDA regions ranked on the map (with numbered map markers) under each of the categories. For example, if you select 'Market Size' on the map you can view each of the 55 RDA regions ranked according to their market size. 

It is also possible to select an individual region by clicking on the map and view its ranking for each of the categories in the map sidebar.

Via: All Things Spatial

Gromit's Grand Day Out on Google Maps

Giant sculptures of Gromit (of Wallace and Gromit fame) have been unleashed on the streets of Bristol, UK. Each Gromit has been decorated by invited artists to create a a public art exhibition, Gromit Unleashed. At the end of the exhibition the sculptures will be auctioned to raise funds for Wallace & Gromit's Grand Appeal, the Bristol Children's Hospital Charity.

You can download a PDF map of all the Gromit locations on the Gromit Unleashed website. Alternatively you can view all the locations on this Gromit Instagram Map.The map displays all the statue locations and also allows users to view photos posted to Instagram for each statue.

Pirates Attack on Google Maps

Ahoy mateys, Yarr, Pirate Maps is one damned clever map. Yarr, Pirate Maps is a Google Map but it uses a few clever tricks to create a distinct pirate themed design, complete with animated waves, birds and pirate ships.

The paper looking effect is created by using a number of background images and z-index on the map. The colored map tiles are created using the Google Maps API Styled Maps feature. The animated waves, birds and ships are created using animated gifs as map markers.

The really clever feature on this map however is that the ships and waves are only placed in the sea, the sea-gulls only appear near land and trees only appear in parks. The elevation service of the Maps API is being used to determine sea and shore locations. The Google Places API is being used to find the locations of parks.

I told you - this map is very clever!

Roadworks on Google Maps is a comprehensive Google Map displaying the location of roadworks and incidents likely to affect traffic on the UK's streets.

The map includes a number of selectable layers, including live traffic congestion, live incidents, and current roadworks. The map markers for each roadwork shown on the map are colour coded to indicate the severity of likely delays (red signals that long delays are likely).

Users can click on each marker to read more details about likely delays, the planned start and end time of the work and details about the work being undertaken.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Google Maps of the Australian Census

Australian website .id has released a Demographic Resource Centre that provides a number of Google Maps of data from the 2011 Australian census.

The census data is organised into a number of categorised areas, 'Community Profiles', 'Population Forecasts', 'Economic & Workforce' and 'Social Atlases'. Under each section users can select geographical areas and explore the census data displayed on a Google Map.

Users can interact with the data via the Google Maps interface and also download selected items as tables, images or even full reports. Only a partial coverage of Australia is currently available, in those areas where .id has been funded by individual councils.

Via: All Things Spatial

Some Clued-Up and Clueless Maps of LA

The popular real-estate blog Curbed is a prolific user of the Google Maps API. It uses Google Maps to provide invaluable guides to neighborhoods in many of the United States' biggest cities. A good way to search for these mapped guides on Curbed is by the 'Curbed Maps' label on each city's website. For example - (for Curbed's mapped guides to Los Angeles).

Here are just a few of the Curbed Maps for LA:

The Big Lebowski Map - The Dude's guide to locations used in The Big Lebowski
The Ultimate Clueless Guide to LA - a Google Maps guide to LA locations used in Amy Heckerling's film Clueless
The Point Break Map - A mapped guide to locations used in the film Point Break
The Best and Worst Commutes in LA - average commuting times for every LA neighborhood

How to Create a Biking Travel Time Heatmap

Jonathan Lansley has written up an interesting tutorial about how he created the video above. The video animates a heatmap of Boston travel times by bike and by public transit from one specific location.

Jonathan used the Google Maps API to retrieve the travel times at different times of the day for both bike journeys and journeys by public transit. Using the data he then created the animated heat map that displays the travel times throughout one day.

A Stamen Maps designed OpenStreetMap was used for the final map but the Google Maps API Styled Maps feature could also be used to create the black and white map tiles needed as the base of the heatmap.

The resulting video is very impressive. Hopefully the tutorial will lead to some more examples, comparing travel times in other cities around the world.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Indian Real Estate on Google Maps

Commonfloor is a cleanly designed real estate search engine for India. The site allows users to search for a property to buy or rent by location on a Google Map.

Users can select a city to search from a drop-down menu. Within cities it is possible to search by address or by well known local landmarks. Users can also refine a search by price, property type and the number of bedrooms.

Favista is another Indian real estate search engine with a well designed Google Maps interface.

Users of Favista can search for residential or commercial properties on the map by location and by price. Favista provides search options for both those looking to buy and those looking to rent. is a Google Maps based real estate engine to search for properties for sale or rent in a number of Indian cities.

It is possible to search by price, location and by furnished or non-furnished properties. The map includes an option to search for properties within a set distance of your chosen location.

NHL & MLB Player Maps

If you want a career as a National Hockey League player then make sure you are born in Canada and not in Florida. If you are unfortunate enough to emerge into the world in the Sunshine State then you should concentrate on a career in Major League Baseball.

At least those are the conclusions that I've come to from my exhaustive study of these two Google Maps. The 2012-13 NHL Player Map and the 2013 MLB Player Map show the birthplaces of professional players in both these leagues.

Nuke the World in 3d

Alex Wellerstein's NukeMap has proved to be a very popular Google Maps mashup.The application allows users to view the likely effect of different sized nuclear explosions on any any location in the world, using Google Maps.

Much of its popularity comes from the fun of blowing places up on a map. I mean what could be better than that?

Blowing things up in 3d - that's what. Alex Wellerstein's new app, NukeMap3D, uses the Google Earth browser plug-in to allow users to detonate nuclear bombs on their chosen location and view the effect in glorious 3d.

Now you can view the effect of your dastardly deeds mushrooming above the 3d buildings of the cities you target. If you select the 'animate mushroom cloud' option you can even view a slow motion animation of your bomb exploding.

Street View Conquers Mt Fuji

Chilling autumn rains 
Curtain Mount Fuji, 
Then make it more beautiful to see.
- Matsu Basho

The Street View trekker has managed to climb to the top of Mt Fuji and capture some stunning Street View imagery from the climb and from the actual summit of Japan's tallest mountain.

An Avoid the Ghetto Option for Google Maps

One of the most frequently asked questions to pop-up on my Twitter searches for Google Maps is,

"Why doesn't Google Maps have an 'avoid the ghetto' option?"

This, I assume, is a request for an option in Google Maps driving directions to avoid crime hotspots.

SaferRoute is an interesting attempt to do just this for the city of Edinburgh, Scotland. Using crime data from Lothian and Borders Police Reports, this Google Maps app will return directions that try and avoid crime hotpsots.

If you enter two addresses into the app you will be shown a Google Map with two routes highlighted. The safest route is shown in green on the map and the fastest route is shown in red. Beneath the map turn-by-turn directions are also given, with each street on the journey given a safety rating.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Say Hi on Google Maps

Hi is a new platform that allows users to attach a message and a photograph to any location.

Using the Hi smartphone app users can post a quick 'sketch' to a location using 20 words or less and attach a photograph to their sketch. Users can return to their 'sketches' later, when on their desktop ,and 'extend' the moment by writing a fully description or narrative.

The home page of the Hi website includes a live updating Google Map of active places. The map animates through the latest 'sketches' posted on the platform.

The Ancient History of Google Maps

Geodia is a spatial timeline of ancient Mediterranean archaeology and material culture. An interactive timeline synchronised to a Google Map allows users to explore geographic sites and events from the fourth millennium BC to ca. 330 AD.

The site was designed to serve as an instructional resource, to help students in introductory courses in archaeology and art-history make sense of the spatial, temporal and visual complexity of the ancient Mediterranean, and visualise connections and differences across space and time.

The Digital Archaeological Atlas of the Holy Land is an amazing collection of Google Maps that together form an on-line digital atlas of the region.

The site is divided into a number of areas, including a series of case studies, numerous historic maps, and a huge searchable database. The "Empires" section illustrates the march of empires across the Middle East, from the development of the first Egyptian state in about 3000 BCE to the Ottoman Empire in 1918 CE. The 'Empires' Google Map includes the option to view an animated time-line of these empires.

Name that City in One

There is something very addictive about these Street View location guessing games. GR8CTZ is inspired by Anton Wallén's popular GeoGuesser Street View game. However in GRTCTZ you have to guess which major city you have been transported to and you won't be shown any Street Views of rural wildernesses.

The game has three levels of difficulty. Level 1 is the easiest as you are shown Street Views of iconic spots in cities around the world, for example, Times Square in New York or Red Square in Moscow. If you don't immediately recognise the location you can walk around in Street View and get clues from the architecture, street signs and other visual clues.

Level 2 is a little harder as you are placed in a random spot in a city. After two unsuccessful guesses you will be transported to somewhere a little more recognisable in the city.

After you have successfully guessed five cities you can view your score. The score is based on how quickly you guessed each city correctly. You also have the chance to review your travels, where you were, for how long, and what guesses you tried. You are also able to revisit the locations at you leisure on a Google Map. 

You can even grab a link to challenge your friends on exactly the same city streets as you tried. Level 0 is more like a screensaver than a game. This level transports you to a famous location in a famous city and you don't have to guess the location, instead the location is slowly revealed for you.

GeoGuessr is a Street View geography quiz that sets you the challenge of guessing the locations of a series of random Street View images. Using visual clues, such as the fauna, landscape and street furniture you have to place a pin on a global Google Map indicating where you think each Street View image was taken.

The closer your guess to the actual location then the more points you win.

Locatestreet is a very similar game that presents a series of random Street Views and the player has to guess the country where the image was captured.

The featured terrain, architecture, street furniture and modes of transport all provide clues that can help the player guess the country of origin of the random Street View image. The game also includes three clues for each image, but be warned - if you use a clue you will win less points. 

Street View Quiz is a series of quiz questions based on Google Maps Street View.

In each quiz question you are presented with a Street View and then have to answer a question related to the view presented. The questions might ask you to name something seen in the Street View or you could get a more general question about something that happened at the location.

Street View Quiz includes a simple interface that allows users to create their own questions by providing a link to a Street View and submitting the question and answer.

Pursued is a surprisingly fun Street View game from Hungarian independent game developers Nemesys Games.

The game is very simple but no less gripping for that. You are placed into an unnamed location in Google Maps Street View and all you have to do is guess the city. If you can't tell by the visual clues in the Street View you can move around by clicking in the Street View image and by using your '+' and '-' keys to zoom in and out.

If you finish all the pre-programmed levels, you can make and share your own levels.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Google Maps of the Week

Over the years there have been many, many Flickr maps built with the Google Maps API. Luminous Cities is probably the best yet.

Luminous Cities allows users to visualise Flickr data for a number of major cities worldwide on Google Maps. The Luminous Cities maps provide a platform for users to explore Flickr data by location, time, tags and number of views. The application therefore has a large number of possible uses, for example it can be used to explore the locations where most photos are taken in major urban areas.

Using the time-line filter it is possible to explore how popular photography locations change over time. It also allows users to explore specific events, for example photos uploaded during the 2012 London Olympics. 

This week I was also impressed with how the Asia Foundation used the Google Maps API to present the results of their annual survey of Afghans. Since 2006 the Asia Foundation has undertaken a yearly survey in Afghanistan to measure how Afghan citizens assess their country’s future.

In the survey Afghans are asked a number of questions including, "Is Afghanistan headed in the right direction?". The Asia Foundation has now released a Google Map that visualises the results of the survey by region and by year. Visualizing Afghanistan: A Survey of the Afghan People allows the user to view the results for each question and compare the results given by year and by region. 

Mapping Protest Data is a Google Map of worldwide protests this year. The map uses 2013 protest data from the Global Data of Events.

The heat map shows a high level of protests throughout Europe and the Middle East. If you zoom in on the map you are able can see individual points. You can click on the points to view more information about the specific location and the number of protest events.

The creator of the map, John Beiler, has blogged about how the map was created and even has a theory about the lack of protests shown by the map in the US.