Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Google Maps of the Week

Sometimes the best maps don't have to be particularly innovative to be powerful and effective. This map marking the victims of the Nazi Holocaust is certainly powerfully evocative.

Since 1997 German artist Gunter Demnig has been creating memorials for individual victims of the Holocaust. Demnig's stolpersteine (stumbling blocks) are small, cobblestone-sized memorials for individual victims of Nazism. Each stolperstein is placed in the sidewalk outside a victim's home.

Stolpersteine Online is a Google Map of the memorials that have been erected. The project has created about 35,000 stumbling blocks so far. This is a very small percentage of the total number of victims of the Holocaust, however if you zoom in on any German city on this map you still can't fail to be overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the Nazis Holocaust.

Another powerful use of the Google Maps API this week was produced by The New York Times. The Times created two custom Street View images of the devastation caused by the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma - Before and After: 360° Views From Moore.

The custom Street Views were captured on Tuesday and have been synced with the Google Maps Street Views that were captured in December 2007. If you pan either Street View both the before and after image moves so you can compare the images around the whole 360 degrees.

This week I was also impressed by Vasile Cotovanu's polygon masking effect wizard. An app that can quickly create the GeoJSON, KML, or Google Maps API polygon code needed to create your own polygon mask.

Geomask allows you to simply draw around an area on Google Maps and just press a button to generate the polygon to create this neat masking effect. You aren't restricted to one polygon mask and you can highlight as many areas as you want on the map.

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