Thursday, February 28, 2013

Canal Street View

DIY Street View sell and rent out camera set-ups to capture interactive panoramic imagery that can then be used with Google Maps to provide custom Street View imagery.

The DIY Street View site includes a number of examples of Google Maps with custom Street Views created with the camera set-up. The examples include a map of Rotterdam with a cool example of canal Street Views. Noorderkanaal lets you navigate around Rotterdam's canals in Google Maps and a series of custom Street Views captured from a boat.

Another good example is this campus map of Arkansas State University. The map itself uses custom map tiles of an isometric map of the campus. If you select a map marker and click on the 'take a tour' option you can then explore custom Street Views of the selected building.

Find Fast Food Restaurants with Google Maps

For those occasions when you need to eat quickly and cheaply then you need to use Combo7 to find all the nearby fast food restaurants.

With Combo7 you just need to enter your address and you will be shown all the nearest fast food joints on a handy Google Map. The locations of the restaurants are displayed using the logos of the popular fast food chains so it is easy to find your favorite chain at a glance.

If the map gives you too much choice and you really can't decide where to eat you can even let Combo7 choose a restaurant for you. Select the 'pick for me' option and Combo7 will spin through all the nearby restaurants before landing on one restaurant at random.

The USA HIV Map is an interactive map illustrating the prevalence of HIV in the United States. The map shows the overall prevalence of HIV down to the county level in U.S. states. The data can also be explored to view maps of HIV prevalence in different age ranges and by race and sex. has also created a HIV testing map, showing locations where you can be tested for HIV, and an HIV Treatment Site Locator, showing the locations of Ryan White HIV/AIDS Medical Care Providers.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Airliner Intercepted by Jets - Interactive

CTV News has created an interactive Google Earth simulation of how two Canadian CF-18 Hornet fighter jets intercepted a Sunwing Airlines flight in Canadian airspace.

Due to pilot error the Sunwing plane failed to keep contact with air traffic control for more than an hour. In response the two fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the plane, where they finally regained contact with the pilot.

The CTV News interactive uses the Google Earth browser plug-in to create a simulation of the interception. The simulation uses 3d models of the Sunwing aircraft and the two jets and includes audio from radio transmissions between the fighter jets and the Sunwing plane and air traffic control.

Back in 2009 Jeral Poskey created this Google Earth tour of Flight 1549, which crashed into the Hudson River in New York. The tour includes audio from the pilot and air traffic control from FAA recordings. To view the tour you need to have Google Earth installed on your computer.

Free Wi-Fi Spots on Google Maps is a Google Map showing you all the nearby free wi-fi hotspots.

You can share your location with the map or enter any address and the map will pan to your location and display all the nearby free wi-fi spots. The wi-fi locations are care of the free Android wi-fi scanning app Free Zone.

Free Zone itself is a very handy application for your phone that scans and connects you to free wi-fi networks. As soon as you're in range of a free wi-fi network Free Zone automatically connects you. The app is a particularly great tool for those who use their cell phones off contract.

The First Moroccan Google Map

The Carte Vénale de Rabat is a real estate map for the Moroccan capital Rabat. It is also the first Moroccan map that we've featured on Google Maps Mania.

The map allows users to visualise properties for sale in Rabat. The properties can be filtered by type, price and by floor surface area. The map also includes a land parcel layer that allows the user to see how individual building lots in the city are being used.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Where to Watch the Bay Lights

The Bay Lights website has released a Google Map showing the best places in San Francisco to watch the Bay Bridge light show.

In honor of the Bay Bridge's 75th anniversary, its 25,000 white LED lights are being individually programmed by artist Leo Villareal to create a dazzling light show. San Franciscans can use the Bay Lights Google Map to find the best public spaces, restaurants and hotels with views of the bridge.

The Bay Lights website also includes a programme of upcoming events and a video of the lights on the bridge in action.  

Win a Car in This Street View Game

Citroën Seekers is a new Google Maps based competition from Citroën. The object of the challenge is to navigate around Google Maps Street View and find as many Citroën DS3 Cabrios as you can.

Thousands of DS3 Cabrios have been hidden on a Google Map of the UK and using Street View players have to navigate the map and find the hidden cars. The more cars found , then the more points are earned. The player who gets the most points will win a Citroën DS3 Cabrio THP 155 6-speed manual DSport!

The game is a Facebook app, so you will need a Facebook account to log-in and enter the competition. Unfortunately you will also need to be a UK resident to be eligible to win the car.

French Property Price Heat Maps

French real-estate website EffiCity has created a great Google Maps based application that creates property price heat maps for any town or city in France.

The created heat maps show at a glance the relative price of properties in the town or city. Users can mouse-over different neighborhoods on the map to view the average property price in that district and to view the range of prices (from cheapest to most expensive) that properties have been sold for.

Lots of New Japanese Street View

Last week Google made a huge update to Street View imagery in Japan. As well as adding Street Views of lots of new roads and towns they also added a lot of Street View imagery in tourist and heritage locations.

Amongst the Street Views added to the Google Maps 'special collections' in Japan are:

Three floors of the Sapporo TV Tower
The Goryokaku Tower (with a great view of the Goryokaku star fortress
The Niigata Prefectural Museum of History

You can view the full list of Street View updates in Japan on the Google Japan Blog (in Japanese). You can also view the special collection of Japanese Street Views here

Monday, February 25, 2013

Remembering the Japanese Earthquake

Google's Memory for the Future website was created to help the Japanese people share their photographs and videos and to rediscover lost memories of their homes and towns following the great earthquake of March 2011.

As well as user submitted photos and videos the site features Street View imagery taken before and after the earthquake and tsunami. This week the site was updated to include 36 new Street Views of buildings that were damaged by the quake.

Tokyo Metropolitan University's The Great East Japan Earthquake Archive has also been added to the map. The archive includes the personal testimonies of many Japanese citizens whose lives were effected by the March 2011 earthquake.

The Google Maps Bar Crawl Planner

The City Swig is a handy guide to the best bar specials, beer prices, and liquor prices in Richmond, Virginia.

If you are heading out for a night on the town then you can use The City Swig to find the best possible route taking in the cheapest beer or liquor. The route planner lets you choose the day of the week and the area of Virginia that you wish to visit and then produces a handy Google Map showing the bars and stores offering the best deals.

The Wonderful Worlds of Minecraft

TopoMC is busy recreating the map of the United States using the online block building game of Minecraft.

A number of American cities and regions have already been mapped using Minecraft and data from the U.S. Geological Survey. TopoMC uses the National Elevation Dataset and the National Land Cover Dataset to automatically generate Minecraft maps of cities and regions.

The TopoMC website includes links to download the already created world files into Minecraft or to view the cities and regions in Google Maps. The screenshot above shows the Google Map of New York City recreated in Minecraft using TopoMC.

Also See

Westocraft Mincraft Map - the fictional world from A Song of Ice and Fire
Crafting Azeroth - the World of Warcraft map in Minecraft

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Google Maps of the Week

The use of timelines can bring another dimension to maps. However creating an effective interface for  temporal elements on a map can be a difficult task. This week we saw two Google Maps that have successfully integrated timeline navigation controls.

From the major flooding in Australia to Hurricane Sandy in the US 2012 seems to have been a year when much of the world was effected by extremes of weather of some sort or another.

CBC News in Canada has created a timeline of 2012 that maps occurrences of extreme weather and the natural disasters that struck during the last year. The Extreme Weather and Natural Disasters Map uses the Google Maps API with the Simile Time-line library.

ArtAround is a Google Map of public art in Washington DC.

The ArtAround map allows the user to search by type of art (murals, statues, street art, museums, etc.) and by location. The map also displays current events and festivals and public art venues. Another interesting feature of the map is the ability to filter the results by date.

A slider control beneath the map allows the user to select dates from a timeline which updates the map to show the relevant results. The slider control is a really useful tool for anyone interested in Washington DC's art history. 

Tonight is Oscars night and Google has released a special Oscars site for this year's award extravaganza.

The site includes a lot of special features, including a tool to predict the winners (based on Google search volumes) and an option to send in a video of your own acceptance speech. At the bottom of the page you can also find a Google Map that lets you explore locations related to this year's Oscar nominees.

Using the map you can explore where the films take place, the home-towns of the male and female nominees and the countries of origin of the films in the best Foreign Language Film.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Week in Maps

Creeping in at the end of this week Buzzfeed's 38 Maps You Never Knew You Needed probably just scraped in as the most shared map story on the internet this week.

It is an eclectic and interesting mix of maps, ranging from a map of the world's seas and land masses inverted (pictured) to a Super Mario inspired map of the world.

The Guardian this week posted a map showing The Twitter Languages of New York. The map shows the languages used by New Yorker's when posting to Twitter. The map was created by the University College London and includes a link to view a similar map of London's Twitter languages.

Two of the biggest news stories this week involved meteorites. The Guardian (once again) this time teamed up with CartoDB to create a map of Every Meteorite Fall on Earth. CartoDB has also created a screencast about how the map was created.

The most interesting online map I came across this week however was this Contour Lines Density Map. The map takes an innovative approach to visualising 'stop and frisk' incidents carried out by the police in New York.

To draw attention to the neighborhoods where stop and frisks happened most frequently elevation contours are used to show the density of the stops.

Top 10 Animals Found in Street View

Google Street View World has put together a cool slideshow of the best shots of animals found in Google Maps Street View. They were also kind enough to let me reproduce the slideshow on Google Maps Mania.

Google Street View World has been collecting the weird and wonderful sights that can be found in Street View for a number of years so they have a great back catalogue of amazing finds. I'm hoping that we can turn this into a regular feature of slideshows around different themes.

I've had to reduce the size of the slideshow to fit into a Google Maps Mania post. So to see the skideshow in its full glory make sure you check it out on Google Street View World.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Maths Universe on Google Maps

Did you know you can use the Google Maps API as a navigation menu for your website? The Khan Academy do. They have used the Google Maps API, with Google Sky map tiles, to create a menu for a series of mathematics exercises.

The sky map is overlaid with a series of maths exercises set out in the form of a constellation. Users can click on any of the maths areas and they will be taken to a number of interactive maths tests in the chosen area.

Also See Maths Maps

Hat-tip: Google Street View World Map

America's Gardens on Google Maps

Find a Garden is one woman's mission to map and visit America's flower gardens. What started out as a personal project to create a map that would be useful in planning garden visits has now become a handy resource for anyone interested in flowers and horticulture.

The map shows the locations of all types of gardens, from small park rose gardens to state botanical gardens. Each of the gardens includes a link to the garden's website and the gardens that are indicated with a tick include the map creator's own photographs and ratings of the garden.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Washington DC's Public Art Map

ArtAround is a Google Map of public art in Washington DC.

The ArtAround map allows the user to search by type of art (murals, statues, street art, museums, etc.) and by location. The map also displays current events and festivals and public art venues. Another interesting feature of the map is the ability to filter the results by date.

A slider control beneath the map allows the user to select dates from a time-line which updates the map to show the relevant results. The slider control is a really useful tool for anyone interested in Washington DC's art history.

Dutch Elm Trees on Google Maps

The Planning Department of the City of Amsterdam has created a number of interesting Google Maps, all of which can be found in the Interactieve Kaarten section of their website.

The maps cover a range of subjects of interest to local citizens, including housing, green spaces, climate and building use. For example the Elm Map plots the location of elm trees in the city. It is possible to select to view elm trees in the city by trunk diameter and also to mouse-over individual trees to determine their genus type.

There are a many more maps to explore on the site and all the data used in the maps is also available at Open GEO-Data

Living Streets on Google Maps

Living Streets is a UK charity that promotes the idea of "safe, attractive, enjoyable streets where it’s great to walk". Since 1929 the charity has promoted the rights of pedestrians and campaigned on issues to promote pedestrian safety.

The Living Streets websites features a prominent Google Maps application that allows users to view their own street in Street View. The Street View feature is a great way for the charity to personalise the user's experience of the Living Streets website and I'm sure helps convert casual visitors to the website into registered users.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Atmospheric Pressure on Google Maps

pressureNET is an Android application with which users can contribute to a global network of user-contributed atmospheric pressure readings.

To use the application users need a tablet or phone with a barometer. However you don't need an android device to view the atmospheric pressure readings, visualisations of which can be seen on the pressureNET website.

The visualisation allows the user to select a location on a Google Map and select specific dates for readings. A graph of the resulting readings are then displayed beneath the map.

At the bottom of the pressureNET website are quick links to view recent notable events, such as Hurricane Sandy (pictured) and Hurricane Issac.

Contribute to the Maker Map

The Maker Map is a Google Map of makers, fabricators, and supply outlets in the San Francisco Bay area.

Users can filter the results displayed on the map by category and can search the map by location or by the name of the maker. Users can also add a resource to the map by completing a short form.

The Maker Map also has a discussion group on Google Groups and the code can be viewed on GitHub (click the 'About the Map' button for the links).

And the Award for Best Map Goes to ...

Google has released a special Oscars site for this Sunday's award extravaganza.

The site includes a lot of special features, including a tool to predict the winners (based on Google search volumes) and an option to send in a video of your own acceptance speech. Right at the bottom of the page is a Google Map that lets you explore locations related to this year's Oscar nominees.

Using the map you can explore where the films take place, the hometowns of the male and female nominees and the countries of origin of the films in the best Foreign Language Film. There is also a place-holder image that promises that you will soon also be able to "take a look inside before the big show with Google Maps". I assume that this means indoor Street View of the Dolby Theatre will be released this week.

Walkability on Google Maps

Walkonomics rates the walkability of individual streets, neighbourhoods and cities and presents the results on a useful Google Map.

Locations are awarded a walkability score based on a number of factors, including road safety, sidewalks and attractiveness. Walkonomics also takes advantage of the power of the crowd by allowing users to add a rating for any street.

The reviews for individual streets include a Google Map and the option to view the actual street using Google Maps Street View. The review includes an overall walkability rating and user ratings in a number of categories important to an area's walkabilty.

Walkshed is an incredible walkability map for New York and Philadelphia. Using Google Maps and OpenStreetMap Walkshed lets you calculate a personal walk score for any address in New York and Philadelphia.

Walkshed has some pretty clever algorithms working behind the scenes to help calculate the walkability scores. For example, interstates and rivers adversely effect a walk-score whilst parks have a very positive impact.

Walkshed also allows users to create an individual walkability score by defining the nearby amenities that are important to them. The map lets the user adjust the value that they place on nearby categories of amenity such as restaurants, cafes, bars, subway stops, grocery stores etc.

Walk Score is a great resource to help find a walkable place to live. Using Walk Score you can enter any address and get a walkability score between 0 and 100.

Walk Score's walkability algorithm measures how easy it is to live a car-lite lifestyle at any address, based on the distance to different amenities in a number of different categories. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Photos of WWI on Google Maps

1914-1918 Une Effroyable Boucherie is an incredible collection of geo-tagged photographs taken during the First World War. The site is the work of one man, Sylvain Halgand, who actually lives near the battlefields of the Somme.

Anyone can submit photographs or postcards to the site and Sylvain hopes to have collected 1,914 pictures in time for the centenary of the start of the war in 2014. I've linked above to the Google Maps page of the website where you can see the location of all the geo-tagged photos.

You can click on any of the markers and view a thumbnail of the photograph and then click through to see it in full size. It's pretty amazing to see how the cluster of markers is already beginning to represent a pretty accurate map of the Western Front. 

Also See

The Westeros Minecraft Map

The seven kingdoms of Westeros, from the Wall in the north to the Summer Sea in the south, is a land that has experienced centuries of dynastic civil wars.

The Westocraft Mincraft Map is a map of Westeros created using the sandbox building game Minecraft. The Westerocraft map uses the Google Maps API to provide an interactive interface to explore this Minecraft world. Using the map you can zoom into the isometric portrayal of locations in Westeros. For example, you can explore Castle Black, the home of the Night' Watch, and even stare over the wall into the Lands Beyond.

Also See

Extreme Weather on Google Maps

From the major flooding in Australia to Hurricane Sandy in the US 2012 seems to have been a year when much of the world was effected by extremes of weather of some sort or another.

CBC News in Canada has created a time-line of 2012 that maps occurrences of extreme weather and the natural disasters that struck during the last year. The Extreme Weather and Natural Disasters Map uses the Google Maps API with the Simile Time-line library.

The time-line is located beneath the map and can be controlled by dragging with your mouse left to right. As you scan through the year on the time-line the map markers are adjusted on the map to show the extreme weather and natural disasters that occurred during those dates. 

The markers are colour-coded to indicate the type of weather or natural disaster recorded and you can click on any of the markers to read more about each incident. Each incident also includes a link to click-through and read the CBC News report about the extreme weather or natural disaster.

Monday, February 18, 2013

How Big is Google Maps?

Recently the Google Maps API added the option to allow polygon shapes on Google Maps to be set to draggable. If the polygon property is set to true, the user can then drag the shape over the map.

Google created a popular game, they called Mercator Puzzle, to demo the new draggable polygon option. The game set the geodesic property of the polygons to true, which means the game provides a great insight into the Mercator projection. It is very noticeable in the game how the polygons resize as you drag north and south on the map.

How big is Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania? also makes use of draggable polygons with the geodesic property of the polygons set to true. In this case it allows the user to drag a polygon of Lake Tanganyika around on Google Maps and see how it compares in size when placed over other locations.

The app comes with all the code so you can create your own example using shape files of other locations. The effect is very similar to (and is even called a 'customisable mimic' of) the BBC's Dimensions project How Big Really?.

The BBC Dimensions projects allows you to move polygons of important places and events around on Google Maps and overlay them on other locations to help give you a sense of scale of these locations.

Through the Secret Door of Street View

The Secret Door is a new and impressively designed Street View portal, that can magically transport you around the world using Google Map's interactive panoramic imagery.

There is nothing particularly revolutionary about The Secret Door and there are already a number of well established sites that allow the user to explore a series of random Street Views. However the Secret Door does have a couple of very nice touches. I really like the background music and in particular the sound effect that is used when you are transported to a new Street View.

My favourite Google Maps Street View slide-show remains MapCrunch.

Like The Secret Door MapCrunch allows you to view a series of random Street Views. However MapCrunch includes the option to narrow the Street Views shown by location and by type of view. You can select to see just urban views, indoor Street Views and to define the time delay before a new Street View is shown.

MapCrunch also includes a View of the Day gallery. The gallery is a great collection of some of the best Street Views found on Google Maps.

Guild Wars 2 on Google Maps

Orrmaps is a Google Map for high level players of Guild Wars 2.

Players with a high level in Guild Wars 2 need to gather Orichalcum ore and Ancient wood to create weapons. These materials can be gathered in the Machlor's Leap, Cursed Shore, and Frostgorge Sound. However the locations of these materials in Guild Wars 2 changes every week and are different by server.

Orrmaps keeps track of the locations of Orichalcum ore and Ancient wood by server, and new maps are automatically created each week.

The Guild Wars 2 Interactive Map is another useful map of the fantasy world of Tyria used in Guild Wars 2.

Using the map it is possible to find dungeons, waypoints and other important locations used in the game. The map also includes an editing tool so that users can add and submit their own knowledge of locations used in the game to the map.

The drop-down menus at the top of the map allow users to add points of interest to the map in a number of categories. When users have finished adding their knowledge to the map they simply need to click the 'send for approval' button.

This Guild Wars 2 WvW Map is another Google Map of the world of Tyria used in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

The map follows a now familiar pattern for on-line game maps, allowing the user to view important locations in the game using the Google Maps controls. The map allows users to view the locations of Towers, Keeps, Supply Camps, Spawns, Castles and Orbs.

One nice new feature introduced by the Guild Wars 2 WvW Map is the ability to add weapons to the map. When you add a siege equipment to the map the range of the weapon is also displayed which should greatly help players in planning their campaigns.  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Google Maps of the Week

It has been a week where crime maps seem to have been omnipresent on Google Maps Mania. This week we saw three very different approaches to mapping crime, each approach with its own advantages and disadvantages.

The Washintgton Post has used the Google Maps API to create a map based visualisation of homicides in the city between 2000 and 2011.

The interactive map Homicides in the District shows the locations of all the homicide victims.The visualisation includes a number of animated heat maps that allow you to view homicide rates year by year, the number of convictions each year, drug killings by year and victims aged 20-24 by year.

It is also possible to view animations of the homicide rates by year for specific neighborhoods by selecting a neighborhood from the list beneath the map.

Philadelphia Homicides 2006-2012 is a map visualization that uses data from the Philadelphia Police Department to animate all Philadelphia homicides from 2006-2012.

The visualization uses the Google Maps API with CartoDB's Torque library. If you like the visualization then you should check out the screencast by the developer on how he created the map. The screencast shows how easy it is to build a compelling map visualization with Torque and the Google Maps API. 

The Berlin Atlas of Crime is a Google Maps based visualisation of crime statistics in the German capital.

The app allows the user to view heat maps of a number of different crime statistics, including burglary, drug offences, vehicle theft etc. For each generated heat map it is possible to select an individual neighbourhood / borough in the city and view a breakdown of all the crime in that area.

The data used in the map comes from the Berlin Atlas of Crime, a biennial report published by the police of the Federal State of Berlin.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cryptic Map Clue

Here's a little cryptic map clue. Can you name the song from the map?

The map itself was created using the canvas layer utility library. If you want to use the library yourself Pedro Sousa has written up the steps he went through whilst using the library to create a map of all the localities of mainland Portugal. Here's the write-up and here's the resulting map.

Pedro's map contains about 140,000 points and so is a great example of how the canvas library can be used with the Google Maps API to plot thousands of points on a map. My map contains 4,000 points (there's a big clue to the song)

A Slightly Rude Best of the Rest

Probably the most shared on-line interactive map of the last week has been the Vaguely Rude Map.

The Vaguely Rude Map is a faithful compendium and atlas of rude place names around the world. The map has proved particularly popular with British broadsheet newspapers, so I'm assuming that the map appeals somehow to the British sense of humour.

The map's creator Gary Gale has written a blog post explaining the British love of innuendo and how he created the map (the GeoPlanet API, Stamen map tiles, Leaflet & OSM). The map's GitHub even includes a warning, "

"If you're not British, it might be confusing why this is amusing".

The most shared non-nteractive map this week has to be Neil Freeman's Fifty States of the USA map. This map takes a radical approach to fixing the electoral college.

Freeman argues that the biggest problem with "the electoral college is that the states of the United States are too disparate in size and influence". Freeman has therefore redrawn the map of the USA with 50 new states of equal population.

Somehow I can't see his proposal being adopted any time soon.

My personal favourite this week was Airbnb's mapped visualisation of their growth since 2008.

There are actually a few maps on Airbnb Annual but the first map is the most impressive. I really like how the time-line on the map is controlled by the browser scrollbar. Scroll down on the page and observe how new markers are added to the map as the time-line progresses.