Google Maps gets the measles ?

Google Maps : Dear Dr. Ed, I seem to have developed a rash or well at least I’m completely covered in spots.

Dr Ed : Don’t worry Maps, it just a new way of finding geocoded images contributed by the photographers of the web.

If you have looked at Streetview ( by dragging the pegman) recently outside of the existing areas of coverage you may have noted spots of streetview coverage, this is not the result of a very disorganised group of streetview car drivers, but is a way of exposing other geocoded imagery where it is available.

Although the Google Streetview cars are once again driving the world bringing Street View images to many new countries in the meantime you can find suitably moderated and attributed user contributed images from Panoramio.

The example below is from Karon, the beach resort in Phuket, Thailand which brought back happy memories of my honeymoon, which was contributed by panoramio user bareman

The interesting point to ponder is as more and more geocoded images are published and indexed on the web, at what point if ever in the future will it be possible to replicate the complete coverage of Streetview with user contributed images ?

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

A conference rich in social capital

I got back last weekend from Cape Town and the Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) conference 2008, easily one of the best conference I have attended recently!

The FOSS4G conference is like no other attracting the most enthusiastic and active delegates who as well as talking about the potential of geospatial technology, also get on and build the tools.

To be fair Google has taken some criticism from the FOSS community for not making some of its user generated content available in its raw form “think geodata source code” rather than maps tiles, and this was a topic debated with some feeling at the conference. I did my best to explain our priorities in our approach to date, and I certainly enjoyed the debate.

The Google team from our Nairobi office ran a workshop on MapMaker which is making great progress in filling in the gaps in mapping Africa, in many countries making mapping publicly available for the first time.

mapmakerclass.jpg

For the moment making this mapping available for free to as many users of Google Maps and potential Google Maps API sites is our priority.

Following my keynote I spent as much time as possible at the Google Booth, and it was great to meet and talk to developers for literally around the world over half of the 500 people at the conference had travelling to South Africa to attend, again and indication of the commitment of the FOSS community to get things done.

The power of the FOSS community is demonstrated both by the almost complete stack of open source tools which can be used to build almost any scale of GIS system, and by the projects the community is involved in; projects such as Ushahidi which uses a combination of Free and Open Source tools to monitor human rights violations in Africa.

I spent Friday morning following the conference at Trafalgar High School in Cape Towns infamous District 6 running a workshop for teachers on using Google Earth for GIS education at the same time other delegates were running similar courses using other tools.

trafalger.jpg

If like me you are becoming a little tired of the introspection of the traditional and proprietary GIS world, check out OSGeo the organisation supporting many FOSS4G projects, and start saving for your air ticket to attend FOSS4G 2009 in Sydney… you won’t regret it.

Written and submitted from the Google Office, London.