Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Google Maps of the Week

This week I was really impressed with OSCity, a very powerful demonstration of how the Google Maps API can be used to give users easy access to public data.

The map plots how space is used in the Netherlands and provides users with easy access to data about levels of flooding, heritage sites, office space, energy consumption, and much more. Not only does OSCity provide five interesting guides to life in the Netherlands it includes a search option that allows users to visualize heat maps for a huge number of different spatial queries.

Strava, the popular tracking app for cyclists and runners, has released a new route finding and route creation tool called Route Builder.

The application allows joggers and cyclists to create or find popular routes between any two (or more) locations. Users can add two or more points to the Route Builder Google Map and instantly view a suggested route. Route Builder includes two options to adjust the suggested route by 'popularity' and 'elevation'. The popularity option allows you to view the most popular routes between two locations based on Strava's entire database of users' tracked routes.

If you are interested in how Route Builder was created Strava has written up a really fascinating post looking at the mechanics and algorithms behind the application. Introducing Route Builder explores how the A* algorithm (shortest path finder), geohashes (an algorithm for lat/long positions) and algorithms for popularity and elevation have been optimized to create a very fast and effective route builder. 

This week I was also really impressed by a little change to the SSB Network simulator of the Swiss rail network. It may be a little change but it makes a huge visual difference to this real-time map of Swiss trains.

The SBB Network is a real-time map of the Swiss rail system based on the network's published timetable. The map allows you to view animated trains moving in real-time on a Google Map. Previously the map allowed you to watch map markers moving around on a map. Now you can view actual trains.

The latest update to the map means that when you switch to satellite view the map icons change to images of real trains moving around the map. What's not to like?

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