Google has posted a nice 3-minute video giving you an inside look at Google Map Maker, the company’s new tool that allows users to contribute and edit map data for certain countries.
Based on Google Maps, the Metropolitan Police’s new Crime Mapping Test Site is now up and running in beta and, while the functionality is just pretty basic display of crime stats for neighborhood levels, the interface is nice and easy to use. Each neighborhood polygon has an info window with summary stats on crime levels and tabs for comparison with the whole metropolitan area, and even yearly trends. There’s no functionality right now for locating individual crimes, but the plans seems to be to add functionality over time, and there are links to other related websites.
Via Gear Live
I haven’t blogged about a mashup in awhile, but I was catching up on some news and saw a link to RoofRay, a Google Maps app that calculates the solar energy potential of a building’s roof. First, you digitize a polygon representing your roof area, then a ray for the direction of the roof’s slope and enter its angle. Then the app will calculate the Peak Power, Power per sq. ft. and other stats. It was a little glitchy when i tried it out, but I think it is a cool idea.
If you live in the UK (or are just interested in improving their access to data), you can now add your idea to a growing movement to make more public information available to the public. A competition called Show Us A Better Way, from the UK government’s Power of Information Taskforce, has just been announced which offers prizes of up to 20,000 pounds for ideas for new products that utilize public information. One of the examples of data sources that can be used are the Ordnance Survey maps available through the OpenSpace beta . Many of the other data sets available, such as Carbon Footprint data or FixMyStreet.com are also crying out for spatial solutions, so if you have an idea, be sure and submit it before the competition ends at the end of September. According to the FAQs, you do not have to reside in the UK, but all solutions would be implemented for use in the UK.
Via The Guardian
The band Nine Inch Nails has posted a cool new visualization of the 1,400,000 downloads of their latest album, The Slip, that they have released as a KML file. The data represents individual downloads directly from their site, and it’s is a cool way of seeing where those Nine Inch Nails fans really are. I’d love to see other bands do the same with their downloads.
Jesse added: Keep in mind that the 10 song version of The Slip is free and available directly from the NIN website so Trent R. and the gang have a wealth of information from server logs that no one, with the possible exception of Radiohead, has in terms of seeing where their tunes are being downloaded. It makes it pretty clear where NIN should focus their live shows.
Information has begun to roll out about the companies that have received support from the iPhone venture capital funding announced back in January…all two of them so far. Whrrl, a project from Pelago, is one of the first funded via the iPhone VC and is a location based social mapping site that focuses on rating specific locations and events. We talked to Darren Vengroff of Pelago back in Episode 148 if you want to hear about the web and current mobile version of Whrrl. After the interview we asked Darren about a potential iPhone version of their mobile software and he said they were already working on it (clearly). Most likely Whrrl will continue to be free when the App Store opens in the coming weeks, and it is a safe bet that it will not be the only location-based app available.
As we discussed when the Android developers challenge results were announced for the first round selection, there are tons of mobile location based apps that developers are creating. Obtaining location is a relative aspect to these apps as there are different ways to capture location whether from GPS, Skyhook’s wifi location or even pulling from something like FireEagle where location is entered directly. The goal of any of these apps is to move us from space to personalized and socialized place. While Nokia has been an early leader in the mobile mapping arena, it is likely the enthusiast developers building for the new devices like the iPhone or the Android platform that will push what we think of now as location based apps to the next level.
We have talked to the folks at Schmap a couple of times and I was pretty interested in what they do on the web and the desktop, but their iPhone/iPod Touch interface wins hands down between the three interfaces for me. They are rolling it out today, but we had a chance to play with it over the weekend and it has definitely earned a bookmark on my iPod Touch. This is another one of those sites that make me yearn for an iPhone for the ubiquitous connectivity. Along with their City Guide’s, Schmap provides a local search function as well. But at the end of the day it isn’t content or functionality that win my heart, it is the “Rotate ‘n Map” display where you view the guide or search with the device vertical, then rotate to the horizontal to see the results on a map. A simple, elegant display mechanism that is just plain handy. Head over to the Schmap website to find out more.
IBM has a cool project now in beta called Many Eyes, which was developed by their Collaborative User Experience‘s Visual Communication Lab. Many Eyes is a set of visualization tools and web services that allow users to create and share visualization projects, with the goal of creating a collaborative social networking space for exploring and analyzing visualizations. In order to participate in Many Eyes, you upload your data sets (which are then hosted by IBM), create the visualizations and then let others view and comment on them. All you need is a table of data values, and if you don’t have your own set, you can use some of the freely available data already out their on the Internet. The visualization options include maps, graphs, charts and histograms, and even tag clouds. These are tools that those of us with statistical software packages can get access to any time, but the goal of Many Eyes is to host the visualizations so that others can share in and comment on your research.
You can even share your visualizations by embedding live interactive versions in your own site or blog, like the example I have below. One note, however: you can’t host the visualizations or data sets on your site.
I have started taking a tour of some of the location based social apps that are out there since I haven’t had time to write code myself. The first one have been playing with is brightkite.com which can act as a stand alone web app, a location feed for Twitter and works with Yahoo’s Fire Eagle. A quick example of a BrightKite map is here which is a checkin I did from PA. The location information from an account is shown through a list or map of visited places and you can create a series of shortcuts to different Placemarks for quick updating. There is the general friends settings so that you can follow others and of course you can find folks based on location. As with most of these apps you can access it via web or SMS. Check it out if you can get an invite.
The folks over at the Official Google Maps API Blog have provided links to the YouTube versions of each of the seven the Google Geo Developer series. If you are a fan of the KML or Google API then check them out and enjoy the free learnin’.