Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Google Maps of the Week

Two Google Maps really seemed to capture people's imagination this week; The Flat Route Finder and the Hate Map.

The Flat Route Finder was the most shared map on social media at the beginning of the week. While, after its release on Friday, the Hate Map quickly went viral on social media and almost as quickly was picked up by a number of the websites of the national and international press.

The Hate Map is a heat map of offensive messages made on Twitter. The map shows the rough location of every geocoded tweet in the United States from June 2012 - April 2013 that contained one or more of ten 'hate words'.

The offensive words mapped include 'racist', 'homophobic' and 'anti-disability' terms. Users of the map can view heat maps not only of these general themes but can also explore heat maps of the ten individual hate words.

As a semi-keen cyclist the thing I hate most in the world (after cars, buses and trucks) is hills. I really, really hate hills.

Thankfully I can now use the Flat Route Finder to find cycling routes that avoid the steepest slopes. The Flat Route Finder uses the Google Maps elevation service to suggest the flattest possible cycling route. Two elevation graphs are also provided to show you the steepest parts of the route and the route itself is colour-coded to show you the easiest and most difficult stages of the journey.

Also this week, The New York Times published an interesting Medicare Map that shows how much different hospitals charge Medicare throughout the country, for the same treatment.

The map compares the charges made at 3,300 hospitals nationwide for the 100 most commonly performed treatments and procedures. The colored markers on the map show whether individual hospitals charged less than the average (blue markers), 1 to 2 times the average (yellow) or twice the national average (red).

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