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Maps on Path to Mass Innovation 153

Ryan MacCarthy writes "When Google and Yahoo! released their map APIs last week they unleashed a horde of hungry developers eager to integrate their data with the user-friendly maps. Brilliant hacks like Chicago Crime and Craigslist Real Estate are in the midst of switching over to the new API, while sites like MetroFreeFi use the new API to make it easier to find free wi-fi locations in US cities (San Francisco, for example). Imaginative developers, like Alan Taylor (Transparency concept), are digging deep into experimentation to dream up new uses for the maps. It's great to see the innovation when hacks turn to apps." I want to see Los Angeles maps of the action in James Ellroy's novels, and a national map of the worst, funniest tourist traps across the U.S.
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Maps on Path to Mass Innovation

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @07:52PM (#12989947)
    Google hoods... find up to date information of the street gangs in your neighborhood.
  • is a map depicting the travel itinerary described by this book [audiobooksonline.com]
  • by thoolie ( 442789 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @07:54PM (#12989958)
    I would really like to see this technology intigrated into DNR plot maps. This would allow you to scroll over any area and find out who owns the land. I think it would work awesome for buying houses and looking for real estate. And, as far as I know, at least in Wisconsin, you can get the plot maps for free (there bound....in a book....).

    Heck, I would do it but I'm an electronics guy, so I'll just put the idea out there so one of you software guys can give it a go!

    • Here's a map website [maricopa.gov] for the Phoenix area (must have Internet Explorer on Windows) that uses their own software. You can select different parcels of land and see who owns it and how much they paid. You can also turn aerial photography. Something like this would be awesome done using Google Maps.


    • ...there bound....in a book...

      So you are saying that in some book is something called a "bound"? Or where you saying that the're bund in a book? I don't understand.

    • This is probably very difficult to do. It's not a technical challenge, but rather a source data challenge. Parcel data is usually handled by local municipalities - cities, counties, whatever, and there aren't any nation-wide standards for that kind of data. So you'd have to integrate a lot of data in different formats from a lot of individual government entities, all of which have their own unique procedures for obtaining the data. If you want to do it for a specific area, like Santa Clara County, it's
    • by chill ( 34294 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:41PM (#12990228) Journal
      Volusia County, Florida has a basic version of this and has for some time.

      http://webserver.vcgov.org/Address.html [vcgov.org]

      Starting from the address page, enter a valid address like "544 s floyd cir deltona". This will give you everything on the property, including a rough sketch of the floor plan. Scroll all the way down to "PALMS Mapping" and you can work thru an interactive map of the city getting data on various parcels.

    • What is a Do Not Resuscitate plot map?
  • by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @07:54PM (#12989959) Journal
    People are making use of Google's new free API to show the location of stuff on a map.

    Dan East
  • by Blitzenn ( 554788 ) * on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:00PM (#12989990) Homepage Journal
    Wow, I am impressed. The Craig's list and crime stats are really nicely done.

    Speaking of Craig's List, this could be a disease spreader too. Think of being able to find that horny date close to you from the online personals. Little tags all over saying "Yea! I'm horny! come on over!". lol.

    News headlines, "STD's spread like wildfire with Google's new map API".
    • "Speaking of Craig's List, this could be a disease spreader too. Think of being able to find that horny date close to you from the online personals. Little tags all over saying "Yea! I'm horny! come on over!". lol."

      More likely you'll click on their personal only to find the address was entered randomly, its a stock porn/model photo, and it tells you to go check out her live webcam.

  • ..anybody have an easy way to switch over customized .xml/.xsl files from the mygmaps "GMaps Standalone" project to the new API?
  • Never mind maps... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:00PM (#12990000) Homepage
    Forget 2D maps. It's dead easy to play around with Google Earth - and you don't even need an API.

    Go 'head and try it. Save a location, or folder of locations, as a .kmz file. Then rename it to .zip and unzip it. You'll find a "doc.kml" file, xml-formatted, easy as pie to reverse-engineer and work with.
  • by susano_otter ( 123650 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:01PM (#12990004) Homepage
    I want to see. . . a national map of the worst, funniest tourist traps across the U.S.

    This [roadsideamerica.com] will satisfy all your "worst, funniest tourist trap" needs.
  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) * on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:04PM (#12990021)
    ...why can't they figure out how to make it so you can get directions to a business by typing in the business name and having the mapping tool cross reference the yellow pages? Why should the user need to know the address?
    • I can get this with Yahoo Yellow Pages. I enter my ZIP for a location, and business name for destination. It brings up a list of businesses, and I can follow a link for maps, follow yet another link for directions.
    • by batura ( 651273 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:16PM (#12990092)
      Actually, Local Search on maps.google.com does a really good job of doing just that. Unless I am misunderstanding your question.
      • by That's Unpossible! ( 722232 ) * on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:13PM (#12990417)
        You are, and it doesn't.

        Local Search on google uses some crazy algorithms to find things by doing a GOOGLE SEARCH for what you entered, and then showing you addresses on a map found in the pages you referenced. (Basically.)

        Yahoo Yellow Pages is actually a database of business listings, and when you search that, 99% of the time you will get all the businesses.

        Example: I search for haircut near my area in Google Maps, and I get a few nearby haircut salons. I do the same thing in Yahoo Yellow Pages, and I get ALL the salons nearby, which gives me more choices, especially when there is a specific entry I am looking for. I know I will find it with YYP.

        I wish Google would just hurry up and buy some Yellow Pages company's data so they can compete against that. The "Local Search" idea was interesting, but is not comparable or adequate.
    • Yahoo's already done it [yahoo.com]. Use it all the time.
  • I'd like to see a map that can reflect where the cheapest bite to eat is in the area...us college students have to live somehow...

    Check out the Uncyclopedia.org [uncyclopedia.org] :
    The only wiki source for politically incorrect non-information about things like Kitten Huffing [uncyclopedia.org] and Pong! the Movie [uncyclopedia.org] !
    • Check out the Uncyclopedia.org

      Hey, that looks cool in a totally random way... Kinda like how Everything used to be cool before a bunch of uptight assholes went and ruined it by trying to be all serious. Thanks!
      • Hey, everything2 [everything2.com] is STILL cool! It's just raised it's standards a bit, but still is fresh.

        • Raised it's standards?

          They killed the funny. Most of what's left is a bunch of elitist snobs, and the rest are the people that can't admit it sucks now.

          If you're not writing serious nodes or silly wish-they-were-blogs posts they get nuked. The whole fun before was that you could put []tags around things that were amusing out of context and see what popped up. Now if you do that you get kicked out.
  • Google Earth (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jagorev ( 891231 )
    Google Earth is even cooler than Google Maps. Why can't they release APIs for Google Earth? Imagine integrating Google Earth into a flight simulator. That's what I'd like to see.
  • Been there [adelaide.edu.au], done that [adelaide.edu.au].
  • Bike/Run maps! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:07PM (#12990038)
    I want to see a map which lets me specify and measure out a route, for planning runs, bike rides, and other such sports. The goal isn't always to get from A to B!

    Ideally, the interface should allow me to highlight a route over existing roads, with fudging for off-road stretches. Locations of water fountains, food stores or restaurants, and bathrooms would be a major plus too. Does such a thing exist yet?
  • Map places (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:12PM (#12990070)
    Believe it or not, there's a map store downtown in the city where I live, but I could remember where it was.

    So I thought I would look it up with Google Maps, and sure enough, I found it!

    Thus rendering my need for the store irrelevant.

  • by amembleton ( 411990 ) <aembleton@bigOPENBSDfoot.com minus bsd> on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:16PM (#12990091) Homepage
    This last weekend I was trying to use the Cornwall tourist board website to look for a campsite. The problem with it (apart from the search not working in Firefox), was that you couldn't see exactly where in Cornwall each campsite is.

    So, I have extracted the data of each site from the Cornwall tourist board website and have used it along with the Google maps API to create: Campsites in Cornwall [blerg.net]

    By the way, Cornwall is in the south-west of England.
    • First time I've gotten this message:

      "A script is causing Mozilla to run slowly. If it continues, Mozilla may become unresponsive." Then it asked if I wanted to cancel the script.

      Have you noticed this?
      • Nice job. I get the same error message though, although it pops up soon after, and CPU load drops again.
      • A script is causing Mozilla to run slowly. If it continues, Mozilla may become unresponsive.
        Do you want to abort the script?
        [OK] [Cancel]

        Have these people heard of UI guidelines? Which button am I supposed to press if I want the script to keep running? Cancel?!!!!
      • Nope, I've not noticed this.

        The whole page is 64KB, plus whatever Google sends which is probably at least another 100KB. I might try cutting down what I send by experimenting with AJAX. Thats another rainy weekend sorted!
    • By the way, Cornwall is in the south-west of England.

      Actually, it's next to South-West England, not in it.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitutional_status _of_Cornwall [wikipedia.org]

      Good work though.
    • Beware when using these maps for navigation. Google's postcode locations in UK are about a block out in my experience. Best crosscheck with multimap.com or map24.com before using them.
      • Beware when using these maps for navigation. Google's postcode locations in UK are about a block out in my experience. Best crosscheck with multimap.com or map24.com before using them.

        Google Maps API doesn't allow postcodes to be entered for the positioning. Everything is done with latitude and longitude. I got around this by determining the postcode of each campsite and then parsing that through Multimap. So, in fact I am using Multimap postcodes. I've also checked for a few campsites the maps on th

  • Wiki + Maps = Location-Based Wiki

    Somebody must be doing this already... links?
  • map (Score:2, Funny)

    i want a map of every gold mine in the world.

    it should also overlay with oil fields, poulation density, fresh water supply, and power lines.

    • by randomiam ( 514027 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @11:38PM (#12991144) Homepage
      A couple of weeks ago, I was looking for overheads of an air separation plant (for my father, who wants to put one in his model rail road set). I figured this would be easy to do as Praxair has a major production facility in Niagara County, one county north of me. Much to my chagrin, the plant was imaged with the low res photos. Curiosity piqued, I looked at some other 'sensitive' sites in the area. Here's what I found:

      This [google.com] is the overhead of the niagara falls hydropower resevoir. The power station is lo res, but the neighborhood isn't.

      This [google.com] is the site of a Dupont factory, a Dunlop Tire factory and a General Motors plant. All low res.

      This view [google.com] shows a CSX rail depot in the north east and the Buffalo River (which has a plant for making HCl among other things iirc) in the south west. Both blurred.

      Now, I have no problem with denying high resolution images of sensitive areas to the civilian population (especially since the areas I've shown you are all prominently featured in the bad dreams of local emergency services types). But if that's the criterion for deciding what's obscured and what isn't, the result is slapdash. This [google.com] photo shows a cheese factory. Those white tanks are NH3 tanks for the refrigeration system. Since the winds here are usually from the south west or west, the cloud resulting from a leak in the ammonia system would blow right over one of the more densly populated neighborhoods in Buffalo. Clearly, this should have been obscured as well (Except you can see pretty much the whole thing from the street, which isn't true of the other examples).

      It would seem that someone already read your mind SparafucileMan.What I want to know is who; Google, the local government, the national government (DHS or whoever), the owners of stuff being obscured?


      • Maybe this not the right explanation. Photos of this resolution are taken from a plane, not a satellite. And there are sensitive area you can't fly over, maybe it's just they couldn't shoot it hi-res. You may notice the area isn't blurred (as in hi-res gone lo-res), it's just replaced with satellite data (which is lo-res).
        • I was thinking of something like that, only the airspace over Niagara Falls [google.com] itself is highly restricted [faa.gov], yet the photos are clear as can be. Also, there are high res images of other places which for sure have overflight restrictions, like airports. This composite of BOS [google.com] was for sure not taken from an airplane (you can zoom in on the airplanes on final).

          Maybe someone will know for sure out there, but aren't the keyhole satelites capable of resolving down to 1 meter? I thought the high resolution images we

  • Ding-Dong (Score:4, Funny)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:30PM (#12990156) Homepage Journal
    How about maps of the addresses of patent holders? Like cancer clusters...
  • I want to see Los Angeles maps of the action in James Ellroy's novels, and a national map of the worst, funniest tourist traps across the U.S.

    It's not in LA, but Pedro's South of the Border [pedroland.com] (in South Carolina) [google.com] would have to be on the list.

    • They do have billboards for it, though.

      • Not quite as cult-weird-popular, but there's a place in North Carolina called Dirty Dick's Crab Shack; they have billboards all along 95 that says "I Got My Crabs at Dirty Dick's". I hear they have T-shirts too.
  • http://newyork.metrofreefi.com/city/New%20York/ [metrofreefi.com]

    The Google Maps API key used on this web site was registered for a different web site. You can generate a new key for this web site at http://www.google.com/apis/maps/ [google.com]

    I guess that some people are still having problems with the way the access is provided. :/
  • ... is if someone stitched all the images together to make a bigger one. I've got a 21k image at work made by the NASA, but I'd like to get my hands on something bigger. That would be a great stress test on our app.
  • by writermike ( 57327 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:11PM (#12990404)
    And it's a shame...

    I used to work on production for Where Magazine in New Orleans. They would publish a map entitled "Where To Go In New Orleans" and I always wondered why they never published a map that showed areas where crimed occurred. At the time, New Orleans was pretty high on the murder-per-capita rates. But there were places that a tourist SHOULD KNOW ABOUT if they wanted to remain with their belongings and alive.

    The magazine said they'd get sued out of existence.

    Admittedly, publishing this kind of information in a magazine does push it under the umbrella of "opinion" unlike the Chicago Crime Maps, but it's a very thin hair to split. Chicago Crime Maps is merely publishing already available public data, but Where Magazine would have done that, too. What's to become of the tourist site that links to the maps?
  • So now the firefox plugin [thepangburns.com] tracking how many times Heny Earl [monkeygumbo.com] has been arrested for public drunkenness can now be upgraded to a map showing all the locations? Sweet.
  • how quickly these APIs are being implemented in clever new ways.
  • by dankelley ( 573611 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:21PM (#12990457)
    I've started using this, and there is a problem for close-up work. The satellite view is distorted by a kilometre or two in the rural region in which I am interested. It seems to be good to about 0.1 km in the city in which I live. I have not done enough testing to know what causes the problem, but it is not difficult to imagine that it's simply a lack of control points in rural areas.

    The upshot of this is that if you want to put location balloons on a satellite image, you may need to do some ad hoc adjustments to the latitude and longitude ... which I would guess you'll have to keep changing as google gradually improves the satellite presentation.

    I've started a thread on the topic [google.com] on the google map api discussion group, and at least one other person has noticed the same problem.

  • by constantnormal ( 512494 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:22PM (#12990467)
    ... Google maps of fictional places? I can see all kinds of tie-ins to (e)book publishing -- imagine if the Marauder's Map in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets could be accessed by the reader at any point in the story, of the potential of interactive maps of Narnia or (Alice in) Wonderland in drawing the reader into the story a bit more, blurring the boundaries between reading and gaming.

    Seems like all it would take is for Google to accept the publisher's business, and post the maps.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The availability of high quality and freely available map data and maps over the internet along with open source software (and some creative minds) has finally been the catalyst to unleash a true revolution in the use of digital spatial data. As the recent O'Reilly book "Mapping Hacks" ( http://mappinghacks.com/ [mappinghacks.com] documents and the Where 2.0 conference (http://conferences.oreillynet.com/where/ [oreillynet.com]) demonstrated, you don't need expensive GIS software licenses or exclusive geospatial technical training to make effec
    • Noticed how many academic or professional "geographers", "cartographers" or "certified spatial analysts" are involved in any of these projects? Nada.

      I'll bet you there were a fair number of these professionals involved in the creation of the services themselves. It's just like any other field - it's the professionals that create the technologies that enable the amateurs to play with them.

      Oh, a few see the light but leave it to the true hackers to truly push the boundaries (no pun intended) of the art.

  • I created a page that lets you customize a map for inclusion on your website. The site is at http://shiwej.com/sitemapper/. You enter in a few options, and get code that you can put right on your site. And it's easy to create the Google Maps API key that is required for the map to work on your site.
  • Some how two words come into mind: "Wall Drug"
  • In other news, businesses in Las Vegas have built a "Find my Nookie!" application...

    ;-) SB

  • There's really nothing innovative here -- just more code... Nothing that couldn't be done before -- now we can just waste more time faster...
  • Ka-Map [maptools.org] is an interface api based on Mapserver [umn.edu] which allows you to create and navigate tiled maps ala Google Maps. Check out a demo site here [dmsolutions.ca]

    It is a fairly young project, just waiting for a few more talented programmers to help push it along. I would love to see a open source alternative to Google Maps and Yahoo Maps providing base maps to these services.
  • So here is a question.. The API TOS says "We also want to respect people's privacy, so the API should not be used to identify private information about private individuals." So if your state publishes sex offenders addresses online are you able to publish that information using google maps?
  • At http://dreams2text.blogspot.com [blogspot.com] you might like to check out the following articles...
    • Making it easy for the Layman to use the Semacode based "Virtual GPS"
    • How hard is it for the "Common Man" to use the Poor Man's GPS mentioned earlier?
    • Using Landline Telephone Numbers for GeoLocation.
    • Bringing Global Co-Ordinates Indoors.
    • The GeoSpatial Web - RightClick a Photo GoThere!!!
    • Prevention of GeoSpatial SPAM - A Solution!!!
    • The Poor Man's GPS
  • Google Maps is cool (Score:4, Interesting)

    by multiplexo ( 27356 ) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:28AM (#12991335) Journal
    It's weird though what they will and won't let you view. You can't see the roof of the White House but you can look at the NSA activity out at Yakima Firing Center in Washington.

    I'd like to see the next dimension that Google Maps add be time. It would be cool if it were possible to have all of the satellite imagery from the last 40 years or so going right up to today with a fleet of googlesats providing near real-time imagery and then scroll through it all. Man, this makes me wish I were smart enough to work at Google.

    • Actually, you can't see the roof. Instead of pixelizing or blocking out the Whitehouse, instead they just filled in the roof with a solid color.

  • I've been messing around in Google Earth for a while now, mainly finding my mates houses/places of interest around the Melbourne (Australia) CBD. What I think would be handy would be a street directory overlay. At the moment i've been alt tabbing between google earth and whereis.com.au .. has anyone started on such a project (in the US i'm assuming) as this would be interesting to check out.
  • Do you remember that first time you watched an Indiana Jones movie and thought how cool it'd be to have your very own 'little red line' cataloging your travels? Ever wonder 'just how close' or 'really far off' you were to your friends on the playa one night when you said to meet up with friends and it never worked out? Misguided in your travels to find 'something' that you thought you knew where was? Well thanks to a GPS unit, some conversion software and the google maps API I've finally started making my
  • Not to piss all over the people who work hard on them but I wouldn't label most of the GMaps mash-ups/ derivatives i've seen 'innovative'.
    Sure they are neat, but hardly amazing.

    "Imaginative developers, like Alan Taylor (Transparency concept), are digging deep into experimentation to dream up new uses for the maps. It's great to see the innovation when hacks turn to apps."

    Specifically, the transparency concept isn't innovative or extraordinarily imaginitive. Websites like MultiMap [multimap.com] have had transparen

  • ...we could automate the production of things like this [penny-arcade.com] ? :-)

    It could be like 'jive' for Google Maps.

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