Posts Tagged ‘maps’

The Agnostic Cartographer: Google’s maps are embroiling the company in the world’s touchiest geopolitical disputes

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

1007gravois-w

[Editor's note: Like other mapping company operating internationally, Google has to meet multiple objectives when delineating national frontiers.  This article from the Washington Monthly discusses some of the hot water the company has gotten itself into. Google recently rolled out higher-precision boundary lines in it's Maps and Earth products to address some of these concerns. Image above: Picturesque but contentious: Google Maps made this village Chinese, temporarily. India wasn’t pleased. Photo: Annabelle Breakey. Thanks GeoStuff!]

Republished from Washington Monthly.
By John Gravois

One fateful day in early August, Google Maps turned Arunachal Pradesh Chinese. It happened without warning. One minute, the mountainous border state adjacent to Tibet was labeled with its usual complement of Indian place-names; the next it was sprinkled with Mandarin characters, like a virtual annex of the People’s Republic.

The error could hardly have been more awkward. Governed by India but claimed by China, Arunachal Pradesh has been a source of rankling dispute between the two nations for decades. Google’s sudden relabeling of the province gave the appearance of a special tip of the hat toward Beijing. Its timing, moreover, was freakishly bad: the press noticed that Google’s servers had started splaying Mandarin place-names all over the state only a few hours before Indian and Chinese negotiating teams sat down for talks in New Delhi to work toward resolving the delicate border issue.

Google rushed to admit its mistake, but not before a round of angry Indian blog posts and news articles had flourished online. Some commentators posited outright conspiracy between Beijing and the search engine. “Google Maps has always been more biased towards China over the Arunachal Pradesh border dispute,” surmised an Indian blogger. Even more ominously, one former member of Parliament told the Times of India, “The Chinese know how to time their statements ahead of a bilateral meeting.”

Google responded in a manner that radiated chilly omnipresence—by posting a statement in the comments section of what appeared to be every single Web site that had discussed the mix-up. “The change was a result of a mistake in our processing of new map data,” Google announced. “We are in the process of reverting the data to its previous state, and expect the change to be visible in the product shortly.”

One mystery remained, however: how did such an error happen in “the product” in the first place? Why did Google have that perfect set of Chinese names lying around, ready to swap in for the Indian ones?

Continue reading at Washington Monthly . . .

Google Maps Elevation Web Services (Google)

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

screen-shot-2010-03-24-at-104824-pm

[Editor's note: A free, sans-API key solution from the web mapping giant for showing elevation (point or along custom path) for Google Maps Mashups either in the v3 API directly or separately as a stand-alone web service. And it returns JSON :) Thanks @lagerratrobe!]

Republished from Google.

The Google Elevation web service provides you a simple interface to query locations on the earth for elevation data. Additionally, you may request sampled elevation data along paths, allowing you to calculate elevation changes along routes.

The Elevation service provides elevation data for all locations on the surface of the earth, including depth locations on the ocean floor (which return negative values). In those cases where Google does not possess exact elevation measurements at the precise location you request, the service will interpolate and return an averaged value using the four nearest locations.

With the Elevation service, you can develop hiking and biking applications, mobile positioning applications, or low resolution surveying applications.

Check the documentation out over at Google . . .

One Planet Many People: Atlas of Our Changing Environment (UNEP)

Friday, July 31st, 2009

unatlas

[Editor's note: Fun site from the United Nations Environment Programme highlighting changes in the natural environment with side-by-side remotely sensed imagery and full write up of each place. Done both in Google Maps and available as a Google Earth feed. Map is fairly decent.]

Republished from United Nations Environment Programme.

Increasing concern as to how human activities impact the Earth has led to documentation and quantification of environmental changes taking place on land, in the water, and in the air. Through a combination of ground photographs, current and historical satellite images, and narrative based on extensive scientific evidence, this publication illustrates how humans have altered their surroundings and continue to make observable and measurable changes to the global environment.

Continue to Interactive Atlas: Google Maps | Google Earth

Yahoo! Geo Technologies

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

[Editor's note: Yahoo! provides advanced mapping capabilities including GeoPlanet, a Web 2.0 gazetteer of world placenames (see also GeoName's post on the relational ontology / the semantic web).]

Republished from Yahoo!

Yahoo! wants to connect the Web to the World; here you can access our increasing portfolio of platforms to help you geo-enrich your applications and make the Internet more location-aware:

GeoPlanet™: Provides the geographic developer community with the vocabulary and grammar to describe the world’s geography in an unequivocal, permanent, and language-neutral manner. (Blog post)

GeoPlanet Data: Tab-delineated files containing WOEIDs and the corresponding place-names that underlie GeoPlanet.

Placemaker™: Identify, disambiguate, and ‘extract’ places from unstructured and structured textual content to help create local- and location-aware applications. (Blog post)

Fire Eagle™: Allows users to share their location with sites and services through the Web or a mobile device.

Maps: Embed rich and interactive maps into your web and desktop applications.

Density Mapping in Google Maps with HeatMapAPI (GeoChalkboard)

Monday, April 27th, 2009

[Editor's note: Heat maps are a useful way to qualitatively represent densely clustered point locations on a map. This post from GeoChalkboard walks thru how to create using the Google Maps API and the HeatMap API.]

Republished from GeoChalkboard, there on March 11, 2009.

In the GIS world heat maps are a graphical representation of point data on a map through the use of colors that indicate the density of some variable such as crime incidents or traffic accidents.  Heat maps let users quickly visualize the density of locations. Being able to understand the density of point locations makes it much easier to see patterns in your data, especially when using colors. In this post we’re going to examine the HeatMapAPI, a JavaScript API for creating heat maps in Google Maps.


(Above) 2009 Starbucks Store Closures

Introduction
HeatMapAPI can be used over the Internet or as a .NET DLL that runs in a local environment and allows you to integrate heat map images into Google Maps or other GIS systems.  In this post we’re going to use HeatMapAPI to visualize the density of recent Starbucks store closures.  In a recent statement, Starbucks announced the closure of 600+ stores in the United States due to economic conditions.

Continue reading at GeoChalkboard . . .

Reviewing the Nokia 6210. An iPhone competitor? No.

Monday, April 20th, 2009

nokia6210navigator

Nokia’s WOM World was kind enough to loan me a Nokia 6210 Navigator (full specs) with the new Nokia Maps 3.0 beta to test in March. I was excited to use this phone because on the surface it has a similar feature set to my iPhone in a smaller profile with potentially less costly carrier subscription and not being tied to ATT. The phone has a GPS, camera, video phone capabilities, and better navigation software with 3d and walking modes via their OVI Nokia-branded maps service which came preloaded on my testing unit.

It took me a while to figure out that I could access the mapping functionality via a dedicated map “compass” button on the main button area (blue button on the bottom of top (LCD part) slider unit in photo above). The mapping functionality is not visible in the phone’s home screen of GUI buttons. After a while I figured out how to use the “Menu” key to get more than top level menus and then choose the map icon there, too. Maps are preloaded onto the phone, no need for net connection for basic functionality, a plus over the iPhone.

Compared to the iPhone, the Nokia 6210 has several great 3d map views more akin to GPS car navigaion systems (an app is available for the iPhone that brings some of this functionality over). The Nokia 6210 has better integrated search for POI around you (I have downloaded several 3rd party apps for my iPhone that do the same thing). The 6210 also does walking directions (and allows straight line walking, not just along roads).

It is strange this phone ships with the GPS turned off. When I pulled up the map application for the first time it did not ask me if it should turn on the GPS receiver. I had to go into the settings area and manual enable. While I can understand the goal of reducing the drain on the battery, this was inconvienent and confusing to turn on. During normal usage, the GPS would take a very long time to engage. The maps app would crash often (it was beta, after all). The 6210 doesn’t seem to use cell phone tower triangulation to get the fast fix (and GPS later to refine position), a serious downside compared to the iPhone’s rapid location display and then refinement. Route planning on the phone required a license code, compared to the free Google Maps routing on the iPhone. This adds potentially $100 extra per year for the same functionality.

The Nokia 6210 Navigator is a slider phone, but the slider functionality did not always engage the phone’s OS to unlock, or there would be a extremely long delay. The keypad interface instead of my iPhone’s touch screen was infuriating. I should note the phone has the old 3 abc-per numeric keypad layout, not a blackberry qwerty keypad.

Phone call quality seemed on par or slightly poorer than my iPhone. Same locations, same SIM, same carrier. Data connections were notably slower due to reliance on 2G (Edge) service. Web page rendering was terrible compared to the iPhone. Nokia has announced several new phones with 3G speeds.

I wanted to test the video conf. capability since this phone has two cameras, one pointed towards your face and the other at the back of the phone. But I didn’t know anyone else with a video conf. capable phone. It is rumored the summer 2009 iPhone hardware update will enable this.

The camera was okay, not as good as iPhone in low light. The 6210 does have a flash, though! and the battery is easily replaced. Just pop off the back of the case. The SIM card is located behind the battery and easy to swap out.

All in all I prefered my iPhone 3G over the Nokia 6210 Navigator. I see that Nokia is prepping a new touch screen version and has introduced the Ovi store to compete with the iTunes app store. But by the time that is released, we’ll have a new version of the iPhone.

Watch this YouTube video for views of the phone; Maps application shown at the very end.

GPS Kit and MotionX for iPhone (Kelso)

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

The iPhone GPS war up’d the anti with the 4.0 release of MotionX for the iPhone (above). They claim over 2 million users now and are the top ranked naviation app on the iTunes app store now. New in this version:

  • All new user interface maintaining the same structure that you are used to
    while improving all the graphics and sounds
  • MotionX Open Road Maps
  • MotionX Open Terrain Maps

It seems to have caught up to GPS Kit 3.0 (below) for features and ease of use, though I still prefer GPS Kit’s interface which is a little more refined and iPhone-like and less like a computer arcade game (the developer specializes in those types of games).

Most notable in the GPS Kit 3.0 update is the huge battery saver features of turning off the screen but maintaining track recording while in the pocket just like the screen turns off when the phone is held to the ear during a phone call.

All the GPS apps need to get serious about cacheing maps BEFORE heading out to a trail. Cell phone service, let alone 3g, is spotty out in the mountains. Also allowing user specified tile source, not just Google or OpenMap. Maybe via the ability to setup “trips” (ala Tracks and Waypoints) based on the current visible map extent and then having the app pre-download map tiles down to the lowest zoom-level within a user configureable, say, 50 meg cache limit.

All apps are less than $10 from the iTunes store. MotionX is having a sale at $2.99 right now.

  • If you want Google maps (including terrain) and care more about advanced features and a more sane interface, get GPS Kit.
  • If you want Open Street Map base maps and pretty good advanced features but weird interface, get MotionX.
  • If you are just a casual exerciser get an app like Trails (read New York Times review), RunKeeper, or rubiTrack that function mostly as a data capture and then interfaces with a desktop or web application to catalog your routes and graph progress.

MapStudio Orienteering Templates for Illustrator

Monday, March 16th, 2009

MapStudio is a set of orienteering symbols and graphic style for Adobe Illustrator (on Mac OS and Windows) and helps you to draw high-quality orienteering maps in shorter time than ever before.

Introducing Google Latitude (Google)

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

[Editor's note: Google get's on board the social network geotagging, tweeting band wagon by unveiling Google Latitude for the iPhone, G1, Blackberry, and desktop computers. See your friends' location and status live on a Google Maps mashup. Privacy settings are buildt into the service so you can pick and choose what level of location detail is revealed per friend.]

Republished from Google.
Additional coverage from MacNN.
Original post Feb. 4, 2009.

With Google Latitude, you can:

  • See where your friends are and what they are up to
  • Quickly contact them with SMS, IM, or a phone call
  • Maintain complete control over your privacy

Enjoy Google Latitude on your phone, PC, or both.

From your mobile phone – View your friends’ locations and status messages and share yours with them.

From your computer – View your friends’ locations and status messages on a full screen even without a compatible phone or data plan. Click here to see your friends from your PC.

Google Latitude is a feature of Google Maps for mobile on these phones:

  • Android-powered devices, such as the T-Mobile G1
  • iPhone and iPod touch devices (coming soon)
  • most color BlackBerry devices
  • most Windows Mobile 5.0+ devices
  • most Symbian S60 devices (Nokia smartphones)
  • many Java-enabled (J2ME) mobile phones, such as Sony Ericsson devices (coming soon)

See demonstration videos and more at Google . . .

Giving Google Maps a Heck of a View (Wash Post)

Monday, February 9th, 2009

[Editor's note: If you live in or visit Washington, DC, check out this exhibit in Arlington featuring Google's Streetview public art on Pittsburgh's Sampsonia Way. See related blog post.]

Republished from The Washington Post.

The morning last May when a Google Maps car — with a roof-mounted camera — came to record street-view images of Pittsburgh’s Sampsonia Way, artists Ben Kinsley and Robin Hewlett were waiting.

They and more than a hundred community members had lined the one-way alley with a staged street parade (with marching band!), a mini-marathon and a dozen other bizarre scenarios.

Video of the resulting public art project, “Street With a View,” and a Web terminal to check out the project are now on view as part of the Arlington Arts Center’s new “Public/Private” exhibit. And the truth about it is, the little Google Maps “intervention” was a six-month undertaking — that required assistance from Google.

“They had already shot that street. Pittsburgh was already done,” Kinsley tells us by phone from Iceland, where he now works. “In the end, they were willing to reshoot the area just for us. There wasn’t any guarantee that what they shot would go live.” But it did: Just Google “Sampsonia Way Pittsburgh,” and there they are (though you’ll have to scroll around to find all of the scenes).

When it launched the street-view scenes in November, Google even offered hints that a surprise was waiting, says Elaine Filadelfo, spokeswoman for Google Maps. In tech-speak, it’s an “Easter egg.” (For the record, Google gave no money to the artists; the street-view team just liked their idea.)

Kinsley says he and Hewlett (both Carnegie Mellon grads) hit upon the idea after seeing street views.

“We asked ourselves, ‘What if we knew this car was coming down the street, what would we do? What could we do?’ ”

Free. “Street With a View” and the rest of “Public/Private” are up Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. through April 4. Arlington Arts Center, 3550 Wilson Blvd. 703-248-6800. For more about the project visit http://www.streetwithaview.com.