Our reader Ed always sends us great links to cool applications and projects, and Globe Glider is another great find. According to the site, it’s a “geo-browser” with an interface that allows users to search and browse by location. Both a Google Maps and Virtual Earth interface are available (you can also use it in Google Earth), with the top half of the browser window given over to a larger view of one of the web mapping apps, while the other is still available in a smaller frame in the lower left corner. If you want to switch the views, there’s a button to flip the two. What the heart of Globe Glider is, though, is its linkages to other sites and resources that are all linked to the locations you are browsing in the mapping interface. For example, I used a Virtual Earth 3D interface in the upper window to navigate to northern Wisconsin, and typed hotels into the Google Local search bar, which gave me results for the nearest hotels to the location. I could then click on the GeoURL tab and see websites from IP addresses nearby, Flickr for geotagged photos, and even weather (a ridiculously cold -27F). Globe Glider brings together tools from Google, Microsoft, Wikipedia, Flickr and others to create a one-stop shop that gives a great example of how location-based search can really change the way we navigate the Web and find information.
We’ve highlighted some of the efforts to utilize web mapping platforms as a tool for organizing and presenting information about the US presidential election, but I just ran across a unique interactive web map for the UK’s current political makeup and what that would mean for the next General Election, put together for the Telegraph newspaper. Each UK constituency is represented by a hexagon that a user can click to bring up relevant information. The map also has some cool functionality, such as a swingometer, where you can use a slider bar to see what would happen if the vote swung in different directions.
Since elections are not held at fixed intervals, the next General Election may not be for awhile, but I think the map is worth checking out, if only to try out their unique interface.
Google has already been plotting US presidential primary results on Google Maps and Google Earth, but in preparation for “Super Tuesday,” YouTube has a Super Tuesday channel that features a Google Maps interface that allows users to upload their own comments and multimedia related to the upcoming primaries. In addition, there are also videos from local news outlets, candidates and even voters themselves in each of the states. Super Tuesday is February 5th, and is the day in which 24 US states will be holding their presidential primaries or party caususes. This day will have a huge impact on who will be the Democratic and Republican candidates for the presidency, and there’s a lot of campaigning going on.
New Media and the Internet seem to be playing a significant role in the 2008 US presidential campaign, although it may not be clear how much of an impact it will have on the actual vote. I think sites and resources like the YouTube/Google Maps Super Tuesday site are really bringing new perspectives on the campaign and its issues and I hope it will also increase voter turnout, especially with younger and new voters.
DataPortability announced today that Google, Facebook, and Plaxo have joined the DataPortability Workgroup on creating open standards for social networking data. DataPortability’s mission is ” To put all existing technologies and initiatives in context to create a reference design for end-to-end Data Portability. To promote that design to the developer, vendor and end-user community.” In the world of social networking, the big players like Facebook and Google currently have proprietary and competing data formats and standards, and there are no easy solutions to integrating information from various platforms. DataPortability is essentially a group that is advocating the adoption of various open standards that are often used in social networking/Web 2.0 applications, such as RSS, so that data from these sites can be taken by the users themselves and reused elsewhere or can be exchanged and enhanced. This announcement follows on the heels of the Robert Scoble/Facebook data tussle, where Scoble downloaded some data about his Facebook friends and Facebook blocked his account. After much furor, Scoble’s account was reinstated, and Chris Saad from the DataPortability Workgroup issued the open invitation for Facebook to join, which they have now accepted. Other members of the group include Yahoo, MySpace, and the BBC.
Of course, the privacy issues are always a challenge, but the issue of ownership of one’s own data that is contributed to sites like Facebook and the value of such data continues to be debated and a proactive approach to opening up these datasets could have a really huge impact on social networking and the Web, if the big boys follow through.
Students and faculty at 3 leading US business schools, Duke (Fuqua), Harvard, and Dartmouth, have launched a site called MapEcos, which utilizes the Google Maps-based Mapmundi Mapping Platform interface to map data that are regularly collected on air quality and chemical emissions from more than 20,000 industrial sites in the US. While the map entries show what and how much industrial sites are releasing, the project is focused on telling both sides of the story, especially companies and sites are have not only reduced the amount of their emissions, but also reduced the levels of toxicity. Air quality is a crucial environmental issues, and tools like MapEcos can help show what works and what doesn’t in terms of reducing industrial pollution, and also help raise awareness about how industries in our own backyards are impacting the environment.
Fairly old news, but I was just adding some widgets to my Chumby and found that someone has finally made a Yahoo! Maps widget. Since the Chumby runs Flash-based widgets it was to be expected Yahoo! would be the first to show up. I am still hoping that Loki will decide to build a widget for the Chumby for the location-based goodness 😉
Google has added a few new features to its Google Maps application (funny how Google Local never really caught on, isn’t it?). One, they’ve added the ability to edit markers, which we mentioned in the past. Two, they’ve added a new “street view” function for some urban areas that’s worth a look see. I checked out Pittsburgh, which I know best, and it was pretty neat to see 360 degrees around from a point. Finally and possibly nearest to my day job, they’ve added a “terrain view” button on their maps. Click it and you’ll see hillshade terrain for an area. We zoomed in to West Virginia and took a look around. The data there is remarkably similar to the 3m DEM product that was done in West Virginia last year and is available for free download. If it is, I can’t help but notice there’s no credit for WV… Still, even with that nitpick, the addition of terrain and street view is pretty cool, even leading at least one commentator to wonder if Google Earth is on it’s way out!
Here’s a perfect idea that should have happened long ago. Google is rolling out an interactive application for gas pumps to allow travelers to search maps and print them out at the pump. Want to know where the closest hotel or pizza joint is located while you’re filling up? No problem, the interactive map will help you find it. Apparently some functionality is missing in that you can’t search for a specific address, which is too bad. I’ll bet they’ll roll that out in the near future, however.
Working on the notion that showing people is often the best way to influence their behavior, the Haringy Council in the UK is providing an online Interactive Heat Loss Map. The idea is to let residents see their own homes’ heat loss and work on insulating their properties better, but the map also lets everyone see how their neighbors’ houses stack up.
Thermal imagery is used in various applications here in the US, and the companies who acquired the Haringy data have done a number of other projects, but I couldn’t seem to find a similar application where the data were made freely available online.