Archive for ‘Maps’

March 2, 2012

Google Maps: Foreign affairs and social skirmishes

Google Earth and Google Maps are probably the most popular, free online cartography reference tools for the public.

Google Map art

Map markers away! Fighting the cartographic unknown

Foreign affairs

Popularity is not the same as authority[1]:

The lines that Google draws on maps have no government’s imprimatur.

How an online map almost caused a violent conflict

If Google Maps show borders or place names that are different from official or long-established usage, they can confuse, offend or worse[2]:

On Nov. 3, 2010, a Nicaraguan official justified his country’s incursion into neighboring Costa Rica’s territory by claiming that, contrary to the customary borderline, he wasn’t trespassing. For proof, he [cited] Google Maps.

Google should not be involved in geopolitical disputes

Google DOES try to offer meaningful, accurate maps.

July 21, 2011

Maps minus the map

With the approach of Google’s massive API deprecation at year-end, I have paid closer attention than ever to Google products. (The API deprecation news was followed by an announcement about winding down Google Labs earlier this week).

I really enjoy Google Maps, whose API is among the deprecated. While reading more about it, I happened to notice a most unusual looking Google-esque map.

This had that distinctive look and feel of Kotke to me. Although the image, see below, appeared on the Programmable Web blog, I promptly unearthed evidence that was highly suggestive of a Kotke origin. The title revealed all.

Google Maps without the Map

Google styles in maps

Showing off Google styles in Google Maps. Without the map.

I highly recommend giving it a try. Visit Maps without the Map for entrée. Try accessing some of the usual Google Maps features, like Streetview. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the version without the map, so to speak, is integrated with the real Google Maps. The sans map version uses JavaScript along with some CSS-like functionality for color choices.*

For explanatory details see the Programmable Web post (September 2010).

For visual fun, play with this image gallery of Google Maps Styles, and this excellent tutorial** on how to get the most out of Google Map Styles in general.

For specific usage guidelines, review the Google Maps Styles documentation.

Notes

*    Take a look at the map footer. The plain white Google logo featured in the sans map version is amusing!
**  I found the Google Maps Styles tutorial (May 2011) on the rather excellent BestFromGoogle website, an unofficial Google-themed blog. It is much more substantive than my own modest Google hobby blog. Features include code snippets, various tutorials and other cool stuff, in a readable, well-designed format.

June 5, 2011

Google photos for businesses

sample Google Maps for business page

Sample Google Maps, Places for businesses

Business Photos from Google are now available to businesses with listings in Google Places.

Google Places listings are seen by any Google Maps user. This feature should help small businesses who want to reach more local customers. Google photographers will take interior shots of businesses, which is distinctly different from the exterior imagery ordinarily seen on Google Maps.

…sign up for a photo shoot by Google trusted photographers. The images will appear on your business’ Place page, and as 360-degree imagery using Street View technology.

Availability

The Business Photos feature is being rolled out gradually based on geographic area. The comprehensive FAQ page includes locations and timelines.

If interested in participation, a short application must be completed.

June 4, 2011

Bing and the Global Ortho Project

Bing Maps lags Google Maps in market share. However, Microsoft has worked hard to catch up.

Microsoft Bing Maps and the innovative Global Ortho Project

Bing Maps

Quentin Hardy of Forbes Magazine recently featured some very clever and original work by Bing in his article about the Global Ortho ProjectThe project goal is to create

a uniform, detailed map of the Continental United States and 17 countries in Western and Central Europe

Microsoft’s focus in investing so heavily in mapping services may be for the enterprise market.  Mr. Hardy notes that Google has just announced a cloud based mapping service for business.

By air not by sea

Nor by land.

Google Maps is known for its street view feature and use of land-based vehicles for mapping (among other things). In contrast, Bing Maps is approaching by air. The Global Ortho Project uses high-resolution cameras to fly over and capture images. It is the culmination of a long-term effort to automate and improve aerial imagery mapping techniques.

The Global Ortho Project is based on innovative and original technology. Bing might match or even surpass competitors in creating high quality photographic maps.

January 28, 2011

Google Boost

Google Places for business seems to have everyone guessing at the moment.  What is the new, still unannounced Google response to Group On?

Google Offers

Is it Google Offers? But aren’t Google Offers merely the yellow Tags advertised in November 2010 as a fee-based add-on to a regular Google Places listing?

There are coupon offers available on many Google Places listings for businesses.  Are these the same as the Google Places optional free feature to offer discounts alongside one’s business listing?

Both TechCrunch and TheNextWeb ran stories about the potentially new Google Offers product within the past 24 hours. Various experts weighed in via the comments, raising many of the issues I just mentioned.

From my own personal experiences with Google Places for business listings, I am inclined to believe that nothing new has happened. However, I’ve seen two items to the contrary. I’m not the only person who observed this.

Evidence regarding of the existence, or non-existence, of a new Google Offers product:

  1. I don’t recall any mention of a product named Google Offers. Google is very specific about such things. I confirmed the claims that listings for Google Offers were now visible as results on Google Search. Is this new?  One way to confirm is by running a web cache search for the same query and businesses for one of more dates in the two-three months between introduction of Google Places with Tags and now. This assumes that I can find some businesses who were running Google Tags and/ or coupon offers continuously between mid-November and now. I will try that after publishing this post.
  2. Google announced a new iGoogle widget in some places, for the express purpose of identifying Google Offers. Google explicitly states that this widget is new. When did Google first offer the widget? Is this significant on its own if I cannot get confirmation for item 1?

As I was hunting around for more clues, I found yet another product with which I was unfamiliar: Google Boost.

Google Boost

I have copy-and-pasted the text from the https secured service login page below. I haven’t clicked the links or checked the available service areas yet.

Google Boost

Google Boost Illustration

New! Get more local customers with Google Boost

Advertise your business on Google search and Google Maps

Done in minutes:  Simply pick business categories, choose ad text, and set a budget

Automatically managed:  Boost manages everything and figures out where to show your ad

Pay only for success: You only pay when potential customers click on your ad

Google Boost is set up from within your free Google Places account. Google Places helps your business get found on Google Search and Maps.  If you don’t already have a Places account, we’ll set you up with one first. Learn more.

Boost is currently available for select categories in select locationsTo get started, sign in with your Google Account or create a new one.

Is Google Boost the real Google product response to Group On?

Or is Google Boost actually an existing product about which I am unaware because it is not offered in my geographic area?  Stay tuned! Answers will be obtained in short order!


January 24, 2011

QR Codes for Google Favorite Places

What’s that bar code?

This unique bar code on the lower right of the sticker, known as a QR code, lets customers – and potential customers – instantly learn more about a business, by visiting a mobile version of the business’ Place Page on any supported phone.

via QR Codes for Google Favorite Places.

QR Code and Google Maps logo

Google Maps Favorite Places logo with expanded QR code example

Learn more about Google Favorite Places.

Favorite Places are a feature of Google Maps, but not the same as a Google Places Page.

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January 1, 2011

Mapping the Storm Clean-up

Recent public service by WNYC demonstrated a nice practical application of Google Maps. WNYC used Google Maps to provide real-time updating of street plowing status to residents of New York City.

WNYC radio and TV logo

Retro WNYC

WNYC readers and listeners (WNYC is also a radio station) are invited to send updates by cell phone or SMS. Just text PLOW to 30644, according to a December 30, 2010 post on the WNYC website.

I am unable to embed the associated Google Map due to restrictions by WordPress.com on use of JavaScript.

December 30, 2010

The Virtues of Bing maps

Stamen Design says “I like Bing Maps and I cannot lie”.

Bing view of San Francisco

Interface and level of detail

I feel the same way.

A Crime Spotting Bing Map

Bing Maps can be, and often are, well, amazing.

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December 17, 2010

Enterprise Maps and Earth

Google Earth in Sky Viewing Mode

This is another location-based service (LBS), similar but larger scale than those developed by foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook.

Google Earth and Maps for organizations

Google is different because it realizes that only a small consumer segment will remain active LBS users, in light of news about negative impact on
privacy rights.

As clear from the name, Google Earth and Maps for Enterprise is targeted toward businesses:

Make it easy for your employees to view, understand, and make decisions about location-based information. Incorporate your company’s data into Google Maps and Google Earth to be shared quickly and easily with colleagues and clients. The intuitive Google mapping applications require little or no training; your staff and customers will immediately realize the benefits of interactive geo-spatial information.

Google Earth Maps

Google’s enterprise version combines familiar Google mapping with added features designed especially for business users:

  • Google Maps API Premier
  • Google Earth Pro
  • Google Earth Enterprise

Bing supports a highly regarded 3-D mapping feature, requiring download and installation of the free Microsoft Silverlight application. There has been recent discussion of less support or other curtailment by Microsoft, but I am not certain, as I’ve read differing accounts depending on the source.

Note that Google also requires installation of an extra application on the user’s hard-drive to use Google Earth, as it is a 3-D mapping program.

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