Thursday, December 28, 2006

50 Things to do with Google Maps Mashups

(Update (Dec.4/07): See 50 MORE Things to do with Google Maps Mashups!)

Back for an encore are two posts which generated a huge amount of interest in 2006. I put together two posts which listed 25 things you can do with Google Maps mashups. I wanted to prove, with these lists, that these newly introduced mapping applications can be useful in your everyday life. I've put these two posts together to make the following list:

1. Measure your run route or commute
2. Check the time in a world location
3. Look up a US zip code
4. Measure Area
5. Make your own Google Map out of any map
6. Map your photos
7. Check what's on the other side of the world
8. Find a person in the US
9. Check the weather anywhere
10. Find the nearest Starbucks
11. Discover an eBay real estate deal
12. Find airport parking in the US.. or the UK
13. Create a running route
14. Watch a travel video
15. Find Fast Food in the US
16. Buy beer in Ontario
17. Check the news for your zip code
18. Avoid disease outbreak
19. Beat traffic
20. Make your own Google Maps mashup
21. Avoid red light cameras
22. Find cheap gas
23. Check sunrise or sunset times
24. Convert currency
25. Find a place to live in the US
26. Find out where the daylight is right now
27. Find a ski resort anywhere in the world
28. Track a flight on Google Maps
29. Calculate the distance between two world airports
30. Find the elevation/height above sea level
31. Map the 7 Wonders of the World
32. Find a golf course anywhere in the world
33. Click anywhere and get travel info
34. Simulate a flood to show damage effects
35. Fly a plane
36. Search Google Maps in full screen
37. Find a world webcam
38. Find a US or Canadian Library
39. Find a world port
40. Map the fish in your tank
41. Find high risk areas for modern marine pirates
42. Find a world dive site
43. Map Wikipedia articles to their location
44. See where UFOs have been sighted
45. Pray in the direction of Mecca
46. Search eBay items by US zip code
47. Map flight turbulence and pollution
48. Plan a London tube journey
49. Calculate cab fare in New York City
50. Map movie filming locations - US and Canada

See 50 MORE Things to do with Google Maps Mashups!


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Google Maps adds Singapore, Hong Kong street maps

After posting about the addition of streets, roads and cities for India on Google Maps, Google Blogoscoped has informed me that Singapore and Hong Kong also now have streets available for viewing:


Hong Kong:

As with the India post I suspect mashups will increase in number in these two locations, and sites like Wikimapia and Sightseeing with Google Satellite Maps will see more locations described and added:

Wikimapia: Singapore, Hong Kong
Sightseeing with Google Satellite Maps: Singapore, Hong Kong

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Google Maps adds India

The Google Maps team has made a huge launch of streets, roads and place names for the country of India! Take a look:

Previous to this launch India showed a vast white space with the "Map" view toggled on making only satellite imagery available. The street maps that have been added for Indian cities also show symbols for various amenities such as hotels, police stations, cinemas and more. This is a significant addition for Google Maps due to the size of the population in India that will be able to take advantage of this new mapping data. Also, expats living abroad can now use the hybrid view to zoom in and look at their home city or town. This expanded data is not yet available for Google Maps API sites, but once it is (and it should be very soon) the following sites should improve their usability and coverage for India. The Google Maps mashup activity should definitely pick up in India as well, now that there is some location context to points which are plotted:

Wikimapia (India) - Individuals will now be able to positively identify structures and places with map and hybrid views put to use. This will greatly expand the number of described places on this great service.

Sightseeing with Google Satellite Maps (India) - This list should also fill up with more places confirmed.

India is now on the Google Map! :)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Google Maps: Get from point A to B.. then C & D!

A new feature from Google Maps will help you plan your next roadtrip:

The core Google Maps service has improved its directions feature by allowing you to enter more than 2 locations to plot directions between. Now when you plot directions between 2 points a link appears at the bottom of the instructions to the left labeled "Add Destination".

Click this link to enter more places to add to your route plotting. It doesn't appear to have a limit for the number of locations you can add and it will also auto-complete places from your 'Saved Locations' area if you have this feature enabled. This looks to be active for most Google Maps countries: USA, Canada, UK & Ireland, Japan, Germany, Spain, France and Italy. Perhaps the next feature addition will help NASA plot directions from Earth, the Moon.. then Mars! :)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Google Map Creator makes thematic mapping simple

Quoting from this blog post from Digitally Distributed Environments:

Google Map Creator is a freeware application designed to make thematic mapping using Google Maps simpler. The software is part of the GeoVUE project at CASA, sponsored by the ESRC as a node in the National Centre for e-Social Science.

Available as a free download the software enables a user to import a .shp files and export the data overlayed on Google Maps. Using Google Map Creator it is a simple three step process to go from raw data to visualization on your own webserver. Differing considerably from other similar .shp convertors, the software is available as freeware and aimed at ease of use.

In the pre-release stage a variety of thematic map for different parts of the world were produced to test the viability of the application with real data on production web servers. A complete set of help documentation is provided as well as a worked example providing a step by step guide to creating your first Google Map from .shp data.

Example maps created using this app:
Download Google Map Creator and view online documentation here..

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Turn any image into a Google Map

Update: Maplib no longer exists so all links have been removed from this post

This next tool is one of the cooler new apps I've come across that has been built using the Google Maps API.. Maplib is an extremely simple app created by Xiao Yisheng that allows you to upload a large image and instantly apply the Google Maps interface to it for easy viewing. Upload an image as large as 6000 x 6000 and host it on MapLib (or embed it on your blog or website) with its own URL and Google Maps viewing interface.

Think of the uses for this! (Examples)
- Maps in various image formats can instantly be uploaded and turned into a Google Maps viewing experience!
- Large images with abundant depth and detail can be annotated
- Detailed business related product photos can be described by owners or other visitors to the image.
- A large photo with many people or places can be annotated like a Google Map!

The list goes on..

To get started, register for an account via a quick email confirmation process. Then get started with creating a map by uploading an image from inside the "My Maps" tab. Settings for each map include title, description and control for who can add map markers. You can have this set for only you, or you can let visitors to the map annotate the image as well. Once the image is live you can send the link to it or embed it onto a website. Here is an example for a large image I uploaded of a recent tradeshow I attended:

More Google Maps Creation Tools can be found here..

Friday, October 27, 2006

Google Maps find: Large face found on hilltop in Canada

The latest Google Maps satellite image discovery this week comes to us from my home country of Canada. Google geo-spotters have come across what resembles the side profile of a face etched into the top of a flat rock formation, in the hills of Alberta just east of Medicine Hat. Like many of the  interesting Google Maps sights that have popped and have been discussed from around the blogosphere, this hill-face has also been featured on Digg (link dead).

Is that an iPod he's listening to?

In fine fashion Sydney Morning Herald journalist Stephen Hutcheon has added some humor to the find by pointing out that it looks like this guy is listening to an iPod. His story in The Herald's Tech section titled "This iPod user rocks" points this out. In reality, this is a road that leads to the area that would be his ear on the profile and the image makes it looks like he's listening to an iPod. Stephen also created a cool little vid that he uploaded to YouTube that uses Google Earth to show you where this face is located. I'm embedding it in the post here:

(If the video doesn't appear below click here..)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

TripAdvisor + Google Maps = The best hotels on the map!


The good folks at TripAdvisor stopped by to let me know about how they're mashing up millions of hotel reviews to show the most popular hotels in any given area on Google Maps. For an example check out New York City. The cool part about this site as a travel mashup is that it isn't just plotting the location of hotels like many other travel mashups do, but rather plotting the most popular, as chosen by millions, upon millions of reviews on the site. When you're looking at the map, you're only looking at the best. You'll find links to these new Google Maps throughout the site on each of:
  • Hotel overview pages for 32,000 featured U.S. cities and towns
  • 17,000+ Pages covering U.S. attractions
  • 135,000+ Pages covering U.S. restaurants
The map interface has been customized to match the look and feel of TripAdvisor by modifying the map controls to give them a softer, seamless look. Each map pin features a tab where you can link off to book at that hotel as well as candid traveler photos and other info about each hotel. TripAdvisor lets you research before you make your reservation. Keep in mind when you shift the map around you need to hit the reload button to re-display the locations. If the map could "auto-magically" know you have shifted the map and display locations for that current map view, it would be a great future site usability improvement.

Be sure to add this one to your list of Travel Google Maps Mashups!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Live Google Map of UK trains

Realtime UK Rail Map!
Remember Dartmaps, the realtime Dublin commuter mashup that plots the real-time locations of trains on a Google Map? A similar Google Maps mashup has been created for trains in the UK National Rail Network: Live UK Rail Map

The map, created by Matthew Somerville shows all trains which are currently inbound to a particular station. Yellow pins mark station stops and red pins indicate trains in motion. Zoom in close to see them chugging along the tracks and an info-window will tell you the departing and destination stations along with the time if left. Google Maps is being mashed up with real time data from the National Rail website. Those who are just tuning into Google Maps Mania for the first time might not know I get very excited about Google Maps mashups that map real time objects or vehicles. I think it can mean great user applications in the area of transit, sport and even public safety!

[Found Via ProgrammableWeb]

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Google Maps adds address search for Australia and New Zealand

Google Maps has added the long awaited address searching for the countries of Australia and New Zealand making the previous released street maps even more useful. When Google released this map data for Australia and New Zealand the maps could only be browsed, but not searched by address. Now this is possible. Local business search and driving directions do not yet appear to be working.

Example (Australia): 5 Lowanna Place Hornsby, New South Wales 2077 Australia

Example (New Zealand): 20 Holly Rd, St Albans, Christchurch, New Zealand

This might also pave the way for Australia and New Zealand geocoding support within the Google Maps API and more mashups from these countries!

Update: Sept.7/06 6:41AM: As expected the folks at Google have announced geocoding support for Australia and New Zealand over on the Google Maps API Blog!

[Thanks to Ed Groenendaal for the tip!]

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Google Maps on your site in 60 seconds using Wikimapia

I've always been a big fan of Wikimapia, the Google Maps site that lets you describe locations in much the same way that Wikipedia allows you to add to articles in its database. It's a great way to share information and also to add some context to the vast amount of satellite map viewing available from Google Maps.

Until recently Wikimapia was only able to viewed from the site itself. This has changed with a new feature that lets you frame an area on Wikimapia and add it to your own site or blog instantly! To put this feature into action head over to Wikimapia, zoom to the location you wish to display and click Wikimapia from the top right corner, then select "Map on your page" from the list. Frame up the area that you wish to put on your website or blog, then copy the code that is provided. I did the following in about 60 seconds:

(Hit "Refresh" in your browser if the map is not displaying)

Here are some more examples of it on some other sites:
This new feature will let you share an area of the map (College campus, tourist area or your hometown) on your website so people can interact directly with Google Maps and add details to Wikimapia without leaving your site! Wikimapia has at present 660,000 described locations after just 2 months of being operational. The Russian developers behind this great tool expect that by 3 months they'll be displaying 1 million spots on the map. Keep in mind as well that the multi-language functionality means that Wikimapia is being used in nearly 40 languages!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

New Google Maps US Zip Code Mashups and Tools

Map helps you see neighoring zip codes - Maps.Huge.Info has long had a great list of Google Maps based boundary and zip code tools. Geo Developer John Coryat has informed me that he has improved his zip code map to use a custom tile layer which covers the US from zoom level 5 to 17 with potentially millions of tiles. When you search a zip code you see all other zip codes close by - give it a try!

County and Zip code Boundary Maps - Here is another zip code mashup of data and the Google Maps API (V.2.57) that lets you enter a zip code and plot the county lines that zip belongs to and also the zip code boundary. There is no restriction on the number of hits/second on this so have at it. Also, the polyline XML files are available for download for any given zip code.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Mapping Your Photos with Google Maps

Since the introduction of the Google Maps API, many sites have added functionality that allow you to "Google map" your photos to the geo-location they were taken or where they may have location-based significance. This post will serve as a roundup of all sites that facilitate this or that help the process along. If I've missed any sites/tools that might be out there, please post a comment letting others know.

Sites that let you add your photos to a Google Map:
Flickr-to-Google Maps:
Google Photo Mapping Resources:
Example Google Photo Map Concepts:

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Google Maps tool EarthTools intros contour maps

Update: no longer exists so all links have been removed from this post.

Jonathan Stott has been hard at work over at writing a contour map overlay which looks pretty snazzy and compliments the height finder tool already on his site. His coverage is growing all the time and he aims to cover the whole world at zoom levels 10, 9, 8, 7 and 6 and then selected areas at closer zoom levels. To see the areas of the world that have contour maps, check here. To use these maps from his main site toggle the "contour" map control when you're exploring.

Jonathon explains some of the technical challenges in creating this additional mapping layer:

For example, I cover the whole of the western United States up to zoom level 13 as well as an area of the Alps in Europe. The United Kingdom and Ireland as well as Cyprus are covered up to zoom level 14. One limiting factor is the speed of my computer - it will take about a month to generate all the tiles for zoom level 10 for the whole world. The other is the space on my webserver - the maps currently take up about 20GB. Another slight problem is that I use an alpha transparency layer for the PNG images so that I can darken the satellite and still see the contours well enough. This doesn't work on Internet Explorer 6, so I have given people the option to install FireFox or people will have to wait for Internet Explorer 7 (the current beta shows the contour maps well).

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Wiki + Google Maps = Wikimapia

WARNING: The Google Maps tool/mashup/app that you are about to read about is extremely cool. Please be seated and clear time from your schedule before proceeding. :) It also seems to only be viewable in Firefox presently..

Wikimapia is a new project created by Alexandre Koriakine and Evgeniy Saveliev aimed at "describing the whole planet earth". They have created an excellent way to accomplish this goal. Using a mixture of Google Maps satellite imagery, a "wiki" editing mechanism and tagging, Wikimapia lets anyone add or edit a description for any place on earth (without registering). It also provides a new, unique way of browsing Google Maps satellite images. Here are some examples:

Egypt pyramids:

Male, the capital of Maldives:

Wikimapia presents itself in a multilingual fashion with interface controls available in English, Russian, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Portuguese languages! Honestly, screen captures from this site don't do it justice.. Get in and have a play and you'll realize the full potential and how nice and easy it is to use. This one gets the "awesome" label from Google Maps Mania for top notch interface, great idea, and concept stikiness. The only thing lacking is the Internet Explorer interoperability.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Make an "Earth Sandwich" with Google Maps!

Update: Zefrank's Earth Sandwich map no longer works. You can now use the Antipode Map instead.

If the earth were a sandwich....

"..If you put a piece of bread on the ground, and somebody exactly opposite you (on the other side of the world) put a piece of bread on the ground, you would have an Earth sandwich!"
Try it out:

It turns out that Waipatiki, New Zealand and Madrid, Spain have an interesting connection with one another! :) Give it a try to see where you end up. The geo developer has placed some other good country-combos along the bottom of the map for you to check out. This tool makes it very easy to move the map around and see your "sandwich partner" as you center the map. Good fun!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Big News: Google Maps street maps for ALL of Europe!

Some loyal Google Maps Mania readers have tipped me off on some big news in the world of Google Maps - Street maps for all of Europe! What a surprise people will have when they wake up on Tuesday morning! Not only are street level maps now available (in addition to the satellite maps available previously) but so are driving directions! Google Maps Mania is about to erupt with more new mashups to come from this area of the world! :)

Update: Check the comments section for more information about the updated street map data in various parts of Europe as observed by many readers.

[Thanks to Frank and Stefan for the tip!]

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Build your own Google Photo Map with a GPS-equipped camera

(GPS Camera) + Maps
= Easy Photo Mapping
(link now dead)

Tim Vidas has a great description (link now dead) of how he was able to equip his Ricoh D200 with a GPS unit to easily Google Map pictures he takes with it. He explains that "The tagging of GPS data into the Exif of each picture is a really nice novelty for me". More from his How-To:

The Sales folks as Red Hen informated me that the adapter would come with some sort of mapping software, and when it didn't I called them up and was informed that it's 'not quite ready' and they'd email be about beta testing (evidently the sales teams information didn't quite jive with the software team). So I set out to create my own, and as it turns out, with only a Image::ExifTool, the Google Maps API and a little over a hundred lines of PERL, I have a script that given a directory of images, will create the GMaps htm, the associated XML for the GPS points and extract thumbnails from the pictures themselves. All that's left is to upload everything to a web directory!

On his page he has posted the source code for you to be able to do this yourself, and even makes his custom map pins available to anyone that wants to use them!

A possible way to take this a step further would be to somehow tie this into a PocketPC with a mobile data plan on it that would allow you to wirelessly transfer these photos the second they are taken to a server that automatically Google-maps them with this app running. This way you could snap photos and have them instantly viewable for people looking at your real-time Google Photo-Map. It will only be a matter of time before this is possible. Camera companies like Ricoh or Canon could do this in partnership with mobile carriers, or perhaps mobile phone handset manufacturers could just add the GPS feature to picture phones and mobile carriers could just build a service offering around it? Fun stuff. I can't wait for this all to be a little easier to do.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Gawker Stalker: Realtime New York Celebrity Map

Just saw this Google Maps mashup mentioned on BBC World here in my hotel, so I thought I had better let other Google Mappers out there know about a mashup getting some major press play. Gawker Media has put up a Google Map that shows the realtime locations of celebrities in New York City. The Google Maps mashup is called Gawker Stalker. Users can email their sightings to a gawker address and those tips are then mapped out for other users to follow. Some are calling it the killer celeb tracking app, while others (A PR Agent was interviewed on BBC World) say that it pushes the personal privacy envelope.