Live Tube Map

A great early example of the value of the new TfL train prediction API, a map of the ‘Real time” locations of Tube Trains.

Produced by MySociety ace Matthew Somerville a really neat demo and another example of the value of releasing government datasets, and in this case an example of an occasion where an API is more useful than the raw data.

Written and submitted from the Google Offices, London (51.495N, 0.146W)

Mapnificent cartography

Mapnificent LondonI have for a while called out for some new cartographic approaches to communicating information which make use of the radically different capabilities of electronic displays compared to paper. To be fair I suppose the palette of tools available to the online cartography have been limited, and the state of the art was probably some of the renderings of OpenStreetMap data developed over the last year or so.

With the release at Google I/O this year of the V3 Maps API and styled maps functionality these tools are becoming more accessible, and one of the early results is a beautiful map produced by Stefan Wehrmeyer in Berlin. His Mapnificent London map uses the styled map API to show London by night, and then with full credit to the famous mapumental map, dynamically displays journey times if you used the extensive London night bus network.

The dynamic aspect makes this map really interesting by simply dragging a time slider bar you are presented with a great deal of information is a clear and simple way, something which would be difficult to achieve with traditional static cartographic techniques.

Hopefully the first of many new dynamic maps..

Written and submitted from the Google Offices, London (51.495N, 0.146W)

From the Earth to the Moon

Today some 230,000 miles of Street View coverage has gone live in Google Maps, which represents arguably the most detailed map of the UK every produced. I say this because of the amount of information contained in each panoramic photograph is simply massive.

Yes it may not look like a conventional cartographic map, but it is nevertheless rich geospatial information and represents the next evolution of maps.

Street View images contain both quantitative information, parking restrictions from signs, opening times of shops, the type of tree most common is the surburan streets of Manchester and qualitative information, the “sense of place” something  very difficult to represent using traditional cartographic techniques.

Street View imagery in the UK will I hope become a valuable resource to academics researching the state of the nation at the beginning of the 2010’s, a image taken every 10 metres or so for 238,000 miles a distance equivalent to travelling from the earth to the moon, must represent one of the largest archives of photographs ever collected.

It is disappointing that the raw images used to create street view will have to be destroyed at the request of the European Union Data Protection Working Party, leaving only the privacy blurred published versions for future generations to accesses, still that is the balance we need to achieve between providing useful services and protecting privacy.

When I was running around Covent Garden in the early 1990’s creating a “hypermedia” map using a video camera and Apple’s Hypercard, I had a vague idea that such a database of navigable scenes might be extended to other parts of London, but National Coverage… that would have been Science Fiction !

But then again so once was putting a man on the moon !

Written and submitted from home (51.425N, 0.331W)

Like your map mate!

This is a bit of fun, we have a great team of developers in Sydney who work of the Maps API amongst other things and yesterday launched for the worlds enjoyment a bunch of Labs features to Google Maps which basically allow you to do cool stuff.

One tool allows you to flip you map, making any of the four cardinal map directions top of the map, so here is the Aussie view of Southern England with South at the top.

We are used to maps orientated to the direction of travel within SatNavs, usually in a perspective projection, but a simple reorientation of a small scale map like this still “just does not look right” to me.

Amazing the power of convention when looking at maps. For the geeks amongst you, you will also recognise that this is also a visible manifestation of a new way to render maps..

Check them out by clicking on the green lab flask icon next time you use Google Maps..

Written and submitted from Zurich Airport  (47.460N, 8.554E)

Help wanted !

googlebigbenlogoWe need helping selling, Google GEO solutions to Enterprise customers in the UK, if your are interested  and have the appropriate experience details are here, feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions.

Written and submitted from the Google Offices, London (51.495N, 0.146W)