Saturday, August 31, 2013

Staring Through a Wormhole in New York

The Smithsonian has found a strange wormhole in New York through which you can stare back to 1836.

The Smithsonian & ESRI History Maps are a series of maps combining historical maps from the David Rumsey collection with Esri's modern aerial imagery. Each of the maps includes a neat magnifying glass tool that allows you to view the modern day aerial image through the historical map. You can even switch the views around and compare the historical map on top of the modern aerial imagery.

The series includes historical maps of a number of US cities, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington DC, LA and Denver.

And Some Non-Google Maps

The Contrail Science Flight Map is a great visualisation of worldwide flights. The map animates through 24 hours of world flight data revealing some really interesting patterns in global traffic.

The map includes a number of options to control how the visualisation displays. I suggest turning on the 'night' option, which adds an animation of daylight / night on the map, and then speed up the overall map animation to observe how flight pattern change over the course of the day.

Last year the New York Times created an interesting map that allows Americans to view how their annual income compares to the national average. The What Percent Are You? map allows you to enter your annual income and view how your income compares to other Americans.

After entering your annual income you can click on any state on the map to see how your income compares to the average income in that state.

After you have worked out how your salary compares to the rest of the country you might want to check out this Cost of Living map. This map shows the cost of living around the world based on a number of cost of living indices.

Friday, August 30, 2013

View the Age of 10 Million Global Buildings

One very noticeable growth area in interactive visualizations over the last few months has been the sudden trend in maps that show the age of buildings.

CitySDK has created a map that shows the age of a staggering 9,866,539 buildings in the Netherlands. Buildings on the map, throughout the country, are colored on the map by their age of construction. You can even click on any of the nearly 10 million buildings to view the exact year of construction.

Ljubljana Building Ages is a map of building ages in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Buildings on the map are colored by age and a line graph provides a quick visual overview of the ages of the city's buildings.

The Ljubljana map was inspired by the Portland, Oregon: The Age of a City. This MapBox map colors 544,033 buildings in Portland by age.

Block by Block, Brooklyn’s Past and Present is a great map for anyone who is interested in discovering and visiting Brooklyn's oldest surviving buildings. The map shows the age of 320,000 buildings in Brooklyn.

Each building on the map is shaded according to its year of construction and users can click on any of the buildings to discover its exact year of construction. The data for the map comes from the NYC Department of City Planning.

Styled Maps Wizards

Designmodo has created a nice Google Maps styled maps wizard. Flat UI Maps allows you to play with and create Google Map styles using Designmodo's flat UI framework.

The wizard is a handy tool for anyone who wants to experiment with a flat UI style in their Google Maps projects. It allows the user to select the colors of map features by simply selecting the colors from a series of drop-down menus. Once you are happy with your created style you can grab the JSON to add to your Maps API Javascript file.

Designmodo has also released a really great video tutorial explaining how the map was created.

Other Styled Maps Wizards:

Can You Name Three Famous Belgium Maps?

Over the year's Google Maps Mania has only ever reported on a handful of Belgium maps. We are therefore delighted to be able to review this map devoted to the Belgium obsession with French Fries. To add a little relish to your order of fries I've included a side order of two of my favorite Belgium maps.

The Fritmap is a Google Map showing the location of friteries. You might ask why you would need a map when friteries appear almost every 50 yards in Belgium. And I would reply that the Fritmap is more than just a map that helps you find your nearest friterie.

If you click through on any of the markers on the map you can view photos, read reviews and comment on the listed restaurant. You can also search the map for restaurant by  rank, which is a handy tool for those looking for the best frites in Belgium.

Toyoto has come up with one of the best Google Maps based promotional campaigns yet. To help promote the car the company are driving an IQ around with a 360 degree panoramic camera rig strapped to the roof. They are then capturing Street View images and filling in all the blanks on Google Maps.

The campaign, which ran in Belgium, allows anyone to report a street that doesn't have Street View on the Toyota IQ - Street View Google Map. The Toyota IQ then travels to the street, captures the Street View images and adds them to the map.

Reclame Erfgoed is an awesome Belgium website that is using Google Maps and Street View to locate and document vintage hand painted wall advertisements. The hand painted advertisement has now obviously been replaced by mass produced billboard advertising so it is a great idea to try and document (and hopefully) save the few remaining examples of hand painted wall advertising.

The submitted Street View images include forward and back arrows so it is possible to quickly navigate to the next or previous submission. The site also includes a map and a location search box so you can find submissions by location.

Rosbif Eating Surrender Monkeys

You can now view an incredible Street View of a Space Shuttle in flight over New Jersey on Google Maps. This is not the only appearance of a Space Shuttle on Google Maps. Over at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida you can see Endeavour in close up.

The Interactive Game of Thrones Map is a great Google Map of the Westeros kingdom from George Martin's series of fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire. Fouillis this week posted another map of Westeros using a very Google Maps like design.

New York based graphic designer and illustrator Matt Delbridge has created some stunning illustrations to help promote Google Maps.

Delbridge's illustrated posters use Google Maps colors and design features. A number of designs have been created to promote Google Maps in countries around the world. The design above represents my proud country of rosbif eating surrender monkeys.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Australian Bike Blackspots on Google Maps

The Bike Blackspot application for the iPhone allows cyclists in Australia to report locations that are dangerous for bike users. The application launched, by the Australian Green Party, will be used by Green Party MP's to identify cycle routes and other areas in need of improvement for bike users.

Green Part MP Scott Ludlum has published a Western Australian Bike Blackspot Map and a Melbourne Black Spot map using Google Maps and data submitted by the app's users. Residents in Melbourne and Western Australia can use the maps to view locations that have been identified as providing problems for cyclists.

Don't Get Lost on the Road to Damascus

Having learnt the lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq it seems very likely that a coalition of the willing, led by the USA, will very soon be attacking targets in Syria.

Your role in this new Where's Damascus? map from Usv2Th3m is to imagine that you are the military strategist charged with the task of programming the targets of those soon to be launched cruise missiles. So can you find Damascus on a Google Map?

All you have to do is drop a marker on the map. You are then shown how many miles off target your guess was. Even more interestingly you are then shown a heatmap of the last 500 guesses and how you rate against those last 500 visitors to the map.

Tracking Sharks on Google Maps

Ocearch's Global Shark Tracker has extended its shark tracking app to track sharks off the east coast of North America.

The Global Shark Tracker allows anyone to observe the navigational pattern of 47 tracked sharks. The sharks have been tagged with satellite tracking technology for the purpose of shark conservation and their movements can be followed on this Google Maps based tracker. The Global Shark Tracker is now tracking 35 sharks off the coast of South Africa and 12 off the east coast of America.

The tracker includes a number of useful filters which allows the user to search for individual sharks by name or to view the trails of just male or female sharks or of mature or immature sharks.

The Nova Southeastern University Oceangraphic Research Center are also using Google Maps to track a number of sharks off the east coast, the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere around the world.

The Guy Harvey Research Institute Tracker allows the user to select the sharks to view on the map by location or by individual shark name.

The 10 Weirdest Sights on Street View

When you enter an indoor Street View tour on Google Maps you really don't know what you might find. You could find yourself entering a spooky scene from The Shining, or turning a corner and bumping into a man with a donkey's head, or even discovering a man stuck in the toilet.

Companies are getting very creative with their use of Business Photos on Google Maps. A lot of businesses have really grabbed the opportunity to give customers a virtual tour of business premises on Google Maps Street View and come-up with some fun Easter eggs. The slideshow above represents ten of the weirdest views I've come across on Google Business Photos.

If you want to try and find some of the other fun things hidden inside Google Business Photos then take a look at these two websites that have begun cataloguing all the Business Photos that have been added to Google Maps:
 Hat-tip: Google Street View World 

The Prettiest Heat Map You'll Ever See has created a beautiful heatmap of planet Earth and MapBox has quickly put together an animated version on the map. The Temperature Map animates through global temperatures recorded on August 10, 2013.

The map uses the new Quicklsilver map from Project Quicksilver is a high resolution real-time map of global temperature, that updates every hour. GeoTIFF images of the map can also be downloaded from

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Meals on Wheels with Google Maps

The problem with those delicious food trucks is that they just keep on upping sticks and moving on. If only there was someway to find out where your favorite food truck was right now!

Four Wheel Foodie is a Google Map that shows the current position of New York City's numerous food trucks. Share your location with this map and you can quickly find the nearest food trucks to your current position. Want to find out where your favorite food truck is currently serving? No problem! Just enter its name into the search box and find out where it is right now.

Street Food App is a desktop, iOS and Android app for finding food trucks in a number of US and Canadian cities.

Currently the Street Food App can help you find nearby food trucks in Boston, Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. Each city includes an option to view the current location of the food trucks on a Google Map.

Each truck is displayed on the map with a green or red map marker, green markers indicate the trucks currently open for businesses and the red markers indicate that they are currently closed. Users can click on each food truck on the map to view a small review and the truck's hours of business.

Roaming Hunger has created a number of Google Maps to track the real-time locations of food trucks in a large number of U.S. cities.

The food trucks are mapped based on tweets by the truck owners and by published calendars. If you click on a food truck's map marker you can get details about the hours it will be present at the current location.

Also See

Planning Applications on Google Maps

PlanningFinder is a very useful application to alert UK residents whenever someone submits a planning application for either a commercial or domestic property in their neighbourhood.

Users can search for nearby planning applications by simply entering a UK postcode. All current planning applications in the area are listed beside a Google Map. The map itself displays the location of all the properties concerned. Each application displayed on the map includes a link to the planning application on the local authority's website.

If you register with PlanningFinder you will receive an email alert whenever a planning application is submitted close to your registered postcode.

The Google Maps Time Machines

1940's Montreal

Catbus created this Google Map that allows you to view 1947 aerial imagery of down-town Montreal on Google Maps. Using the map it possible to compare the 1947 aerial imagery with Google's satellite view. You can view the map in full-screen mode here.

1930's Connecticut

The University of Connecticut Library created this cool application that allows you to view historical aerial imagery of Connecticut from 1934 side-by-side with Google Maps 'satellite view'. The application also allows you to view more modern aerial photo maps from 1990, 2004, 2006 and 2012.

1930's New Jersey

The New Jersey State Atlas is a Google Map that includes the option to view aerial imagery of New Jersey from the 1930's. The map includes a slider control that allows you to adjust the opacity of the historical aerial imagery and make a direct comparison with the modern day Google Maps 'satellite view'.

1940's Moscow

Old Maps of Moscow contains a large collection of historical maps and aerial imagery of the Russian capital. The 1940's aerial imagery shows Moscow during the time of the Second World War.

Your Holiday on Google Maps is a new Google Maps based platform that allows you to share news about your travels and vacations with your friends.

Users of the platform can share reports, photos and videos of their holidays simply by dropping a pin on a Google Map. Once you drop a marker on the map you can use the text editor to report on your holiday and you can attach photos and videos of the location to your report. A red umbrella map marker is then displayed on the map wherever a user has posted a report. includes Facebook integration so users can share their personal holiday reports with friends on Facebook. Alternatively users can grab the unique URL of their holiday report and share the link with friends on other social media or via e-mail.

The Indoor Street View Gallery

Google Maps Business Photos has given businesses the opportunity to provide virtual tours of their premises directly on Google Maps. It allows businesses to add Street View imagery of their shops, restaurants, hotels etc and provides customers with a unique opportunity to virtually walk around and explore the business like never before.

Joakim Syk has created a Gallery of Virtual Tours. The gallery allows you to explore indoor Street Views of businesses added to Google Maps by country and by individual town. If you want to know what businesses have added Street View to Google Maps in your town then you can just enter your town's name and view a gallery of all the Business Photos available on Google Maps in your area.

All the business Street Views can be explored directly on the site. So if you want to explore some of the amazing Street Views added by businesses, like the Harry Potter Diagon Alley Warner Bros. Studio Tour or the inside of the flight simulator at Flight Sensations in France, you can do so without even leaving the Gallery of Virtual Tours.

Hat-tip: Google Street View World

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

US Targets in Syria Mapped

Foreign Policy has created a Google Map of what they claim are likely to be 35 military targets in Syria, if the United States takes military action against the Assad regime in Syria.

Foreign Policy's likely targets include suspected locations of Syrian government chemical weapons sites, air bases and important government and military headquarters. The suspected chemical weapons sites comes from the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

Using Crossfilter with the Google Maps API

Crossfilter is a Javascript library for filtering large datasets in the browser. When partnered with the Google Maps API it provides a powerful tool for building mapped visualisations of data.

Using Crossfilter can be a little daunting at first. Luckily, however, Brendan Kelly, a member of the Google Maps API team, has created a helpful YouTube video that walks you through how you can get started with Crossfilter and the Google Maps API.

Brendan has also created a working demo map and made the code available on GitHub.

Baidu Maps Introduces Street View in China

Baidu Maps has introduced their own 'Street View' type feature called Total View. For now the imagery is only available in three cities, Shenyang, Wuxi and Fenghuang.

If you want to see more Chinese 'Street View' imagery then for now your best bet is City8. City8 is a Chinese company providing 'Street View' type panoramas in a large number of Chinese towns and cities.

The Amazing Street View Corn Maze

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to find your way out of this corn maze on Google Maps.

The Edmonton Corn Maze is now on Street View! Enter the maze at your own peril - because this maze is huge. If you find your way to the bridge in the middle of the maze you can get a bit of an overview of the maze, but you will have to find the bridge first.

By the way if you try and cheat like I did and zoom out of Street View to view the maze on satellite view you will boot yourself out of the maze and will have to start back at the beginning again.

Here's a direct link to the start of the maze on Google Maps.

5 Google Maps for Taking Better Snaps

1. ShotHotspot

The first thing you need as a photographer is a subject. ShotHotspot is a superb resource to help you find great locations to take photos.

The application uses data from sites like Flickr and Panoramio to analyse the most photogenic areas. ShotHotspot's Google Maps allows users to scout for locations around any location worldwide. It is possible to narrow down the area of search by drawing the area that you are interested in directly on the map. It is also possible to zoom in on a location and update the results shown by selecting the 'Search Visible Area'.

You can select any of the hotspots displayed on the map and preview the photo opportunities by viewing photographs of the location taken by other photographers which have been posted to Flickr or Panoramio.

2. Litmind

Litmind is another great resource for finding photography locations. The Litmind Google Map and online database is designed to help photographers search and find shooting locations around the world.

Locations are displayed on the map with thumbnail images of a photo taken at each location. Using the map it is possible to search for great shooting locations by place and by a large number of tags, categorised into 'Outdoors', 'Feelings' and 'Style'.

3. The Photographer's Ephemeris

Once you've chosen the location for your photography session the next thing you might consider is when is the best time to visit. The Photographer's Ephemeris is a free sun and moon planning tool for outdoor photography. The application is available as a free download for the desktop or as an iOS / Android app.

The application uses Google Maps to show sunrise and sunset times and indicates the current direction of the sun based on your location. The application includes some really advanced features, including automatic time zone and elevation detection, correction for atmospheric refraction and height above the horizon.

Photographers can use this invaluable tool to plan the best times that they should visit a location to get the best light for the shot required.

4. The Golden Hour Calculator

The Golden Hour Calculator is a Google Map that displays sunrise and sunset times, the elevation and azimuth of the sun and shows users when the golden hour occurs for any location.

The Golden Hour Calculator defines the 'golden hour' as "the first and last hour of sunlight in the day when the special quality of light yields particularly beautiful photographs". Using the calculator photographers can enter the location where they are planning to take photos and the calculator will display a graph beneath the map showing when the golden hour occurs.

Users can change the date of their shoot to ensure the calculator displays the correct times for the Golden Hour.

5. Photospots

Photospots is a crowdsourced website where photographers can share their favorite photography locations. It is a website where photographers can recommend great photography locations and find new places to visit.

Each location submitted to Photoshots is displayed on a Google Map. Users often leave great comments about their favorite locations, which can prove an invaluable guide to other photographers who wish to visit the location.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Google Maps Transport Survey

The City of Cockburn in Australia has developed an innovative way to survey the community about local transportation issues using the Google Maps API.

The City of Cockburn Integrated Transport Survey allows residents to pinpoint local transport issues on a Google Map. Respondents can add a marker to the map at the location of their concern and leave a comment highlighting the transport issue.

All issues that have been highlighted on the map are visible to other residents, who can vote on each issue by either agreeing or disagreeing with them. The issues raised by the survey will contribute to the development of the Cockburn Integrated Transport Strategy.

German Trains Live on Google Maps

Germany's national railway operator DB Bahn has released a live Google Map showing the location of all the transit network's trains in real-time.

The DB Bahn Live Map animates all the trains' markers to show the current position of the trains in near real-time. The positions of the trains on the map are calculated from the drive-in or exit reports at stations and from the latest train messages.

Users can click on individual trains on the map to view what time the train left its last station and when it is expected to arrive at the next station.

Location, Location, Location on Street View

In real estate the old cliché claims that in selling a property it is all about 'location, location, location'. This new Google Maps game certainly seems to prove that this is one cliché with more than a grain of truth.    

UsvsTh3m are getting very good at creating fun games using Google Maps Street View. Last week they brought us the Locate the London Location game, which asks you to guess which borough or neighbourhood you are in based on a random Street View. This week they have released a guess the cost of the house game.

How much is that House? presents the player with a series of Street Views of UK homes. The object of the game is to guess how much the house sold for, purely based on what the property looks like in the Street View and where it is located. Here's a little clue - if the property is in the south of the UK add a few tens of thousands to your initial guess and, if the house is the north, drop a few thousand from your guess.

Responsive Design of Google Maps

Emily Bennett has posted the fourth tutorial in her series the Google Maps API for Designers. The fourth tutorial covers responsive design, retina images and debugging for the Google Maps API.

In the section on responsive design Emily explains how to adapt the size of the map and the other page elements according to the screen size and the device it is viewed on. The section on debugging is also very useful for map developers and explores some of the tools that can be used to ensure your map code is error free and can be viewed on different web browsers. 

Be sure to check out the first three tutorials in Emily's series:
  1. Getting Creative With the Google Maps API
  2. The Google Maps API and Custom Overlays
  3. Linking Up the Google Maps and Flickr APIs

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Maps of the Week

TravelSmart has released a useful new Google Map that can help you find smarter ways to travel without always having to rely on a car. Whether you are looking to find a new neighbourhood with great public transit links, or you just want to find the best walking or cycling routes for your daily commute, the Your Neighbourhood Map can help.

Enter an address into the Your Neighbourhood Map and you will instantly receive a Walk Score and Transit Score that gives you a great idea of how walkable the neighborhood is and how good the transit links are. A handy travel time tool shows directly on the map how far you can walk or cycle in a given period of time.

The map also allows you to view a whole range of local amenities on the map so that you can tell at a glance how easy it is to access amenities from your entered address.

miniMap are interactive mapping specialists who can help you create online maps for exhibitions, real estate agencies or whatever you need mapping.

A really good example of a Google Map created by miniMap is this map of the exhibition center used for Vinexpo 2013 Bordeaux. When zoomed out users can see where the exhibition center is located (and can even get walking or driving directions to get there). When zoomed in the map displays the layout of the exhibition center and the locations of all exhibitors.

The map displays all the locations of all the exhibitor stands in the center. All the stands are interactive and can be clicked on to reveal details about the exhibitors on each stand. By using the information icon users can search for facilities and individual stands, which are then highlighted on the map.

The London Deprivation Map uses data from the English Indices of Deprivation 2010 to provide a heatmap of deprivation in London.

Links in the map sidebar allow the user to view heatmaps of the individual indices. The 'Income' index reveals as you might expect, that the poorer boroughs are mostly in the East End. However the 'Barriers to housing' index interestingly reveals that hardly anyone can afford to buy housing in London.

The map's creator, James Trimble, has also written up a blog post about how he created this Google Map. The post includes information about where you can download boundary shapefiles for London neighbourhoods.

Mapping the Jamaican Slave Revolt

Tacky's Rebellion, was an uprising of black African slaves that occurred in Jamaica in May, June and July 1760. The Jamaican Slave Revolt Map tells the story of the revolt, and its brutal suppression by the British Army.

Using contemporary accounts the map animates through the important events and locations in the rebellion and subsequent suppression. A number of eighteenth-century maps were used to create the terrain map and the places map, which form the base maps for the narration.

The Jamaican Slave Revolt map was created by Vincent Brown, Professor of History and African and African-American Studies at Harvard University. Brown says that "the map suggests an argument about the strategies of the rebels and the tactics of counterinsurgency, about the importance of the landscape to the course of the uprising".

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Burning Man on Google Maps

If you are heading off to this year's Burning Man then make sure you take along your Google Map.

Yes, that's right, Google has Black Rock City mapped. The map includes all of the city's radial streets and plazas. What's more if you switch to satellite view you can see a detailed aerial picture of last year's festivities.

On second thoughts, if you are going to Burning Man, leave your Google Maps at home and trust to serendipity instead.