Friday, December 30, 2011

Google Maps can Take You to Warp Drive

Google Maps on Warp Drive

Some lucky folks in Turlock, California actually get to live in Warp Drive. Their neighbors, on nearby streets, live on roads called Picard Lane, Ryker Court and Crusher Avenue. I think I spot a theme here.

Google Maps Carpets

David Hanauer is making carpets with designs inspired by Google Maps satellite views.

Not to be outdone Ben Seven came up with this great idea for a map design for a lampshade.

Create a Timelapse Street View Movie

The brilliant Address is Approximate mixes stop-motion animation with some timelapse images from Google Maps Street View.

If you want to create your own timelapse movie from Street View then you can follow Digital Inspirations online tutorial How to Create a Time-Lapse Movie with Google Street View. The tutorial explains how to create an AutoHotkey text file that will help you capture a series of Street View images automatically. You can then import the images into Windows Live Movie Maker (or any other video editing software) to create your timelapse movie.

Some Other Street View Timelapse Movies

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Finding Schools within Walking Distance

Discover BPS is a clever application that helps Boston parents find eligible schools for their children.

Once the user enters a Boston address into Discover BPS and the child's current grade a list of eligible schools is displayed. The schools can also be viewed on a Google Map. The map view allows the parents to see which of the eligible schools are within a 'walk-zone' of the child's home.

Discover BPS uses the open-source pgRouting with OpenStreetMap to derive the "walkshed" polygons which are then used to calculate which schools are within street walking distances. The walkable schools are then displayed on the map with green colored map markers.

Via: Google Geo Developers Blog

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nearby Facebook Events on Google Maps

Eventivore uses Google Maps to let you search and find nearby events and can also help you find if any of your Facebook friends are attending the event.

To find nearby events to your location you just need to enter your zip code. If you wish to find events for a specific date (for example New Year's Eve) you can also add a date range to filter the results.

If you mouse-over an event's map marker you can view details of the event in a small information window. If you click on an events map marker you will be taken to the event's Facebook page where you can view further details and discover which of your Facebook friends (if any) are attending.

Use Google Maps as Your Website UI

BTWXT Games is using the Google Maps API as the main navigation user interface for their location-based games website.

In the past we've seen websites such as Invisible Playground and Google Maps Road Trip use Google Maps as a background for a website page. BTWXT Games, however, is a little different as it actually uses different map overlays almost as a replacement for different pages on the website.

When you first load the website the Google Map is centred on an overlay with links to two of the location-based games available from BTWXT Games. If you click on either link the map pans to another overlay with information about that game.

Hat-tip: Street View Funny

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Track Santa Live

Early this morning I watched as Santa packed his sledge full of presents and set off on his annual world tour. You can also track Santa live on the NORAD Santa Tracker.

The NORAD Santa Tracker uses the Google Earth browser plug-in to show Santa's live position as he travels, bringing joy (and presents) to the world's children. As I write Santa has just set off on his journey and is being urged on his way by a pod of whales.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The SOPA Map

SOPA Map is attempting to map congressional supporters and opponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Known congressional supporters of the act are displayed on the map with a red map marker, opponents to the bill are indicated with a green marker. Each congressman's political allegiance is also displayed by colored polygons on the map.

The map also includes a pop-up form to contact your congressman about the Stop Online Piracy Act.

Some Street View Friday Fun

Street View Exercise Bike

Since the arrival of Street View a number of people have had the idea of connecting exercise bikes to computers to create virtual bike rides.

Instructables show you how you can hack your own exercise bike so that it controls Google Maps Street View

The Street View Camera Rig

If you've ever wanted to have a close look at the Street View car's camera rig luckily Street View can provide.

How Many Brides?

The gardens at the Royal Palace of Caserta are truly stunning. So stunning in fact that they seem to have been invaded by a horde of wedding parties.

Via: Street View Funny

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Santa vs Zombies on Google Maps

The great floatingsheep blog has conducted some detailed analysis of user generated Google Map placemarks. Just in time for Christmas floatingsheep have compared the distribution of references to 'Santa' and 'Zombies' in search hits on Google Maps.

You might be happy to learn the Americans are more interested in tracking down Santa rather than searching for zombies. Looking at the geography of zombie searches floatingsheep did find some geographical clusters in Houston, Dallas and Austin in Texas. Whether this is due to a particular localised zombie problem or not I can't say.

floatingsheep also decided to have a look at Santa vs. Satan searches and map the results. The map shows a line of Satan searches along the eastern seaboard. I'm not sure if Salem should be gearing up for another round of witch trials but there have been a worrying number of Satan searches going on in that part of the world.

How to Fold a Google Map

Folded Google Maps is an experimental folded map effect given to Google Maps using webkit's CSS 3D Transforms and some jQuery. Whilst the screenshot above looks impressive you should check out the map in a Chrome browser as the map also includes an animation that actually unfolds the map.

If you want to know how the folded map look was achieved there is a bit of an explanation (in Dutch) here.

Another example of a Google Map with a folded paper look can be found on the Ubilabs website.

The screenshot above really doesn't do the Ubilabs - Contact Map justice. Providing a contacts map, showing the location of your business on Google Maps, is a great idea. An even better idea is to make you map stand out by giving it some visual appeal.

Ubilabs achieved this by creating a Google Map that replicates the look of a paper map.

One more good example of a Google Map given a folded paper map look can be seen at Google Maps - Realistic Look. If you want to create your own realistic look then check out this tutorial on how to create your own 'realistic' map with a little bit of image masking - Add a Touch of Realism to Your Google Maps.

Extreme Google Maps Sports

YouSpots is a Google Maps based app for finding and sharing new and exciting places to surf, skateboard, snowboard or participate in other extreme sports.

You can search YouSpots by location and sport. The results of your search are then displayed on a Google Map. You can refine the results by track length and by the steepness of the slope.

YouSpots also allows you to search by category, for example Water Sports includes the sub-categories of surfing, windsurfing, water kiting, wakeboarding, snorkelling, water skiing, scuba diving and cliff diving.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New York Incomes on Google Maps

NYC Income uses Google Maps with data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, to show median income by location in New York.

The map displays average income levels for each New York census tract. The map shows that the highest income levels are in Manhattan. Whilst the poorest income levels can be found in the Melrose-Morrisania section of the South Bronx.

Sound Pollution on Google Maps

AirCasting is a platform for recording, mapping, and sharing environmental data using your smartphone. Currently, AirCasters can upload sound level data recorded by an Android app.

AirCasting currently maps noise levels but there are plans to expand the range of devices that plug into the AirCasting platform to include pollution sensors. Currently the AirCasting smartphone app lets you capture real-world sound measurements, annotate the data and share it on a Google Map.

You can view an example of AirCasting in action on this Times Square to Central Park map. The map shows the noise levels recorded on a walk up 7th Ave from Times Sqaure. Using the map you can see how noise levels are very high in Times Square and again at 57th Street before dropping almost immediately upon entering Central Park.

Romanian Trains Live on Google Maps

The Romanian railroad network is around 5,000 km in length, with almost 1,500 stations. Around 1,300 trains travel on the network every day making roughly 20,000 stops in total per day.

Using the Romanian Railways Network Simulator you can view it all live and in real-time. Romanian Railways Network Simulator uses the timetables of the Romanian railways to create a simulated real-time Google Map of the Romanian rail network. Using the map you can view the network's trains moving around Romania live on a Google Map.

You can create your own simulated vehicle simulator with the help of the code from Swisstrains, available from GitHub.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bird's Eye on Detroit and Four New Cities

U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville

Googel has unveiled new aerial view imagery in Detroit, Fayetteville, AR, Nashville-Franklin, TN, Baton Rouge, LA, Huntsville, AL

Louisiana State Capitol

Via: Google LatLong

It's Snowing on Street View

A definite theme is emerging this week involving Christmas messages with Street View. Send a Christmas Street View Message is another very clever Google Maps app that lets you send a personal holiday greeting with your selected Street View.

Once you select a Street View location and add your own personal message this app creates a stylised Street View scene featuring snow and your greeting. The app pans and zooms around your chosen Street View accompanied by some nice soothing Christmas related music.

Once you are happy with your personal Christmas Street View scene you can send the URL link to your friends. This app uses WebGL, so you will need to use a compliant web browser (may I recommend Google Chrome).

A Google Maps Christmas Movie

This year it seems that everyone is trying to outdo everyone else by creating the best Maps Google Street View based Christmas Card wizard. Digital photo album specialists Hofmann have really pushed the boat out with the Christmas and Hofmann Christmas movie creator.

Christmas and Hofmann lets you create your very own Christmas movie in which Santa is shown visiting your own home (with some clever superimposed images from Street View). The app also lets you upload up to eight photographs, which are then featured in the finished movie.

Once you have created your personal Christmas movie you can send a link to it by e-mail or share it with your friends via Facebook or Twitter.

Also See

Google Maps of the Ancient World

Pleiades is a great resource for anyone interested in the history and geography of the ancient world. The site is a community based and open-sourced gazette of ancient places.

The welcome page of Pleiades features a nice animated Google Map that animates through some of the ancient places in the gazette. Google Maps are also used throughout the site to show the locations of ancient place names.

Each individual ancient place map includes markers of nearby ancient places. Pleiades also contains a large collection of user contributed Collected Places, where ancient places are grouped by theme, for example Roman, Medieval, temples, roads etc.

Also See
Omnes Viae: Itinerarium Romanum - a route planner based on the ancient Roman map the 'Tabula Peutingeriana'

Monday, December 19, 2011

More Google Maps Xmas Cards

I've just received my fourth Google Maps based Christmas card of the day ... and the Xmap-Card is one of my favourites.

Ubilabs' little Christmas card creator segments Google Maps into a number of little squares. The map tile in each square acts independently from the rest so that it is possible to move the individual map tiles around to create your own picture.

Creating your own picture can be a little difficult as it can take a while to find the correct shaped map tile or satellite image. Luckily Xmap-Card comes with a number of pre-configured templates, including a snowman and a Christmas tree.

When you have chosen a template or created your own card you can add a little message and send the URL link for the card to your friends.

Street View Snow

Here is another Christmas themed Street View application.

Everyone Deserves a White Christmas is a neat application that allows you to view any Street View image with added snow.

To create your own white Christmas you just need to add an address to this app and watch as some animated snow falls upon your chosen scene. You can then share your wintery scene via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail.

There's something very clever going on under the hood of this app. As the snow falls it actually settles on the solid objects in the Street View image and somehow knows not to settle on the sky.

I can't work out how the snow detects solid objects in the image. I guess the app must somehow detect the color of the pixels in the image and, for example, avoid settling on the parts of the image that show the sky.

Share a Carol with Street View

Share a Carol with Google Maps Street View lets you create and send a virtual Christmas card with some Christmas carollers singing on top of your own Street View scene.

Creating your card is very easy. You just need to choose a Street View scene by entering an address or choosing a famous landmark from a drop-down menu (Big Ben, Times Square, the Eiffel Tower etc). You can then choose from a selection of carols.

Once you have finished a video of carollers will appear on top of your chosen Street View scene and sing you your chosen carol. You can then send your personal carol singing Christmas card via Facebook, Twitter or by sending the link via e-mail.

Shelter - House Bling Christmas Cards

UK housing charity Shelter have created this amazing Street View site that lets you decorate your house with some Christmas bling. Once you enter your postcode and find your house you can choose from a number of Christmas decorations to give your house that Christmas glow.

Once you have finished you can then share your creation via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail. The site has been created to remind you that no-one should be homeless at Christmas - so once you have created your decorated house please remember to give generously to Shelter.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Best Google Maps of the Week

Where the F..k Should I Go for a Drink? was probably the most shared of this week's Google Maps. The viral nature of the app might have had a lot to do with the title of the map but it is actually a brilliantly executed pub and bar locator.

If you share your location with Where the F..k Should I Go for a Drink? you will be shown a Google Map of your current location with directions to a nearby bar or pub. If you don't like the chosen pub you can simply click to get alternative recommendations.

Locating London's Past is a superb tool for exploring London's past on Google Maps.

The map allows users to visualise data relating to seventeenth and eighteenth-century London against John Rocque’s 1746 map of London. The data sets that can be viewed on the map include records of Old Bailey Proceedings, coroner's records, historical directories, plague deaths, archaeology finds and much more.

Google's own Build the Memory app is a powerful insight into the devastating effect of this year's Japanese earthquake and tsunami. The app features new Street View images of the affected area, which you can compare to Street View images taken before the earthquake.

This week also saw two new video maps. MapsTube lets you search for videos on Google Maps. It is a great way to search for videos shot at specific locations anywhere in the world. ZDF - Geothek, on the other hand, lets users browse a map for video clips from the German public broadcaster's archives that cover both current and historical events around the world.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Google Maps Created in Your Own Image

Mashupforge is a new Google Maps creation tool that allows anyone to easily create a Google Map without having to use the Google Maps API.

The tool allows users to create a Google Map with markers or to create a map from an uploaded image. Adding markers to a Mashupforge map is a simple process of dropping the marker on the correct location and entering the information you wish to appear in the information window.

To create a map from an image simply involves uploading an image. The screenshot above shows a map created from one of NASA's Blue Marble monthly images uploaded to Mashupforge.

Custom maps created with Mashupforge can be embedded in any website by cutting and pasting the provided iframe code. Alternatively users can just share the link of their created map's URL.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's Friday - Go For a F..king Drink

If swearing offends you then you should avoid Where the F..k Should I Go for a Drink? However if you want some blunt advice about where you can get a nearby drink then carry on ...

If you share your location with Where the F..k Should I Go for a Drink? you will be shown a Google Map of your current location with directions to a nearby bar or pub. Above the map is a large question that gives the name of your suggested local watering hole. I've photoshopped out the swearing in the screenshot above but I think you can still get the drift.

If you click on the named bar in the map headline you can visit the suggested pub's website. If the suggested pub doesn't please you then you can click to get alternative recommendations.

Friday Fun

One Does not Simply Walk into Mordor

The Google Maps team have a history of hiding little Easter eggs in the directions service of Google Maps.

In the past these Easter eggs have taken the form of suggestions to either jet ski (step 42) or kayak (step 15) across seas and oceans.

This latest Easter egg however takes the form of some handy advice that 'One does not simply walk into Mordor'.

Google Maps is Watching You

Funny or Die have created a cautionary video warning of the dangers of the Google Street View car. It tells the tale of one man's unlucky experiences of being caught out by Street View every time he decides to do wrong.

Make Your Own Heat Map of the World's Airports has created a Fusion Table of airports worldwide. If you open the Fusion Table you can visualise the data on a Google Map to create this nice heat map of airports around the world.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Google Maps - Top Searches 2011

Google Zeitgeist - 2011 is Google's analysis of the top searches conducted using Google this year. Google Zeitgeist 2011 includes a list of the top 10 searches conducted on Google Maps.

The Google Maps Fastest Rising searches for 2011 are:
  1. utm
  2. siegessule berlin
  3. dpt conforama
  4. wells fargo
  5. friseur
  6. elementary schools
  7. campgrounds
  8. shopping centre
  9. starbucks
  10. lake
Some of the searches are self-explanatory as users search for nearby shops (particularly Starbucks), schools, campgrounds and lakes.

Examining the searches by month also reveals some expected trends, for example searches for campgrounds and lakes rise leading up to, and during, the summer before dropping away again in the autumn.

In Germany the top searches seem to be for hairdressers and for the siegessule (which I assume is searches for the Berlin victory column, the Siegessäule).

At No.3 in the list Dpt Conforama could be the French department store (but I could easily be wrong).

The top search 'UTM' has me stumped. It might possibly be people searching for the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system, but I have no idea why there should be a sudden jump in people searching for UTM in May.

The Google Maps of the Year

Picking the best Google Maps of the Year is incredibly difficult. In picking my favourite Google Maps of 2011 I am in no doubt that I have forgotten some exceptional Google Maps - but, for what it's worth, here are the maps that most impressed me this year.

New Media Companies

This year the quality in design and usability of Google Maps based application seems to have taken a huge step forward. This is in part due to the impact of innovative new media companies such as Vizzuality and Ubilabs. Both of these companies consistently produce outstanding Google Maps that nearly always make it into my Google Maps of the Week round-up.

This year's Ubilabs releases included Die Asphaltsurfer, Swiss Post - Running View and

Vissuality's releases included and El Microscopio del Voto (Spanish election results).

Newspaper Visualisations

Newspapers around the world continue to produce excellent Google Maps applications to help illustrate news articles. The New York Times continues to lead the way in producing stunning map visualisations. This year the Times' maps included Destruction in Haiti, Then and Now, NYT: Where I Was Map, How Manhattan’s Grid Grew.

An honourable mention must also go to German newspaper Zeit for Verräterisches Handy. This Google Map mapped the location data collected from one man's mobile phone over six months.


Many of the most innovative uses of Google Maps this year were released as part of marketing campaigns. Amongst the best marketing maps were RCZ View (Peugot), Gran Turismo 5, Levi's Roadwear and MINI Maps


Developments in web technologies continues to open up new possibilities in online mapping. Amongst the best maps using cutting edge web developments were Urban Arteries, Grand Theft Auto IV - Custom Street View and Chaos in Your Town.


You don't have to have a huge web team behind you to create a great Google Map's based application. Individual developers can still have inspired ideas that grab the attention of web users around the world.

My favourite 'viral' maps this year were #rorschmap, Street Views Patchwork and ExtendNY - New York City Expanded.

And Finally .... The Winner is ....

In the end my favourite Google Map of this year was not so much a map as a full scale media event. Hurtigruten: Minute by Minute was a week long live broadcast by Norwegian Public Service broadcaster NRK of the voyage of the cruise liner Hurtigruten around the Norwegian coast.

As well as amazing live TV footage of the voyage, for 134 hours users of the application could follow the position of the cruise liner live on a real-time Google Map. There was something truly amazing about being able to follow the ship live on Google Maps and watch the live TV broadcast as Norwegians came out in droves along the coast to celebrate as the ship sailed by.

So What do You Think?
So that's my personal choice of the best Google Maps of the Year. The chances are that most of you will disagree with my selection. So feel free to leave a comment about your personal favourite Google Maps of 2011 .....

The Untamed Philippines on Google Maps

The Untamed Philippines is a tourist guide to the Philippines. Google Maps are used throughout the site to help users explore and find interesting locations throughout the country.

The 'Places' tab is a good place to start discovering interesting destinations in the Philippines. This map allows the user to explore points of interest in a number of different categories, for example 'churches', 'museums' and 'restaurants'.

Many more Google Maps can be found throughout The Untamed Philippines website, exploring all aspects of Philippine life and culture. The 'Explore' tab allows the user to find Google Maps and Google Earth browser tours in a number of different categories.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Canadian Dogs Go Postal on Google Maps

Global BC has created a Google Map of dog ownership in Vancouver based on dog licence records mapped by postal code.

The heat map shows that there are more dog owners in the districts around the University Endowment Lands. More analysis by Global BC shows where individual breeds of dog are most popular in the city. For example, pit bull owners predominantly live in east Vancouver, "in a line more or less along Nanaimo St".

Global News produced a similar article last month looking at dog ownership in Toronto. The Toronto article includes a nice map with a drop-down menu that allows you to view heat maps of the ownership of different breeds in the city.

Street View Now Comes with a Date

Yesterday the Google Earth Blog noticed that Google Maps Street View images now come with a date telling you when the panoramas were taken.

If you look at the bottom left hand corner of a Street View image you can now view the month and year when the picture was taken.

Another nice little feature I've noticed Google Maps testing recently is the highlighting of search results. For a while now when you search for a location in Google it has shown a map with the searched area highlighted. Google have been testing this feature in Google Maps as well.

This feature still seems to be very much in the testing stage. I noticed the feature was working this morning but this afternoon it no longer seems to be working for me.

Finally, in Chrome (but not in Firefox and IE for me) the satellite button in Google Maps now shows the satellite view directly beneath the button.

Sunrise and Sunset Times on Google Maps

The Sunrise Sunset Map is a nice Google Maps based app for finding the sunrise and sunset times for anywhere in the world.

The app allows you to click on the map to get the sun times for that location. The application also returns the moon's rising and setting times. A nice feature is the calendar option that allows the user to get the sunset and sunrise times for any date.

Also See

YouTube Videos on Google Maps

MapsTube is the second application this week, after Google Shoot View, to have made a faithful reproduction of the Google Maps design. I'm not sure how happy Google's copyright lawyers will be but, from a user's perspective, the familiar UI does help with navigating the site.

MapsTube is a Google Map that you can search for YouTube videos. You can use the application to search for any subject and matching, geo-tagged, videos will be displayed on the map.

I've already bookmarked this map as it is a great resource to find videos based on real-time current events. For example, this last week it has been a great way to find videos about the Russian election protests in Moscow.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

London's History on Google Maps

Locating London's Past is a superb tool for exploring London's past on Google Maps.

The map allows users to visualise data relating to seventeenth and eighteenth-century London against John Rocque’s 1746 map of London. The data sets that can be viewed on the map include records of Old Bailey Proceedings, coroner's records, historical directories, plague deaths, archaeology finds and much more.

Locating London's Past has big plans for the application. They say that additional maps of London and relevant mappable datasets concerning any aspect of London's medieval, early modern, and modern history will be added to the application as they become available.