- WEB STARTUPS
- WEB JOBS
- ALL TOPICS
Google Earth Archive
I spent most of this afternoon at the Google East HQ at the Google Maps and Earth Hackathon. I am very glad I attended as I entered with basically zero knowledge about how to write code for Google Maps and now I know enough to get started. About 40 people attended the hackathon and surprisingly only about 50% had Macs – was nice to see.
I sat next to a few NY Times employees who appear to have a great handle on coding for Maps and Earth. I left my card with them and hope to get a video interview to learn more about how they are utilizing the technology at the Times. My advice is even if you aren’t a developer, check out the hackathon events just to see what the latest uses are for the various Google tools.
Googlers Roman, Mano and Osama were on hand to help with questions. Each provided an overview at the beginning of the session which included a few pretty interesting examples:
- Yelp uses a static Google Map on review pages but if you interact with the map, it immediately loads the full, dynamic rich experience. This helps Yelp keep the initial page load as light as possible but offering the full functionality when needed.
- Trulia uses the standard Google Maps API but overlays their own tools around the map to make it more personalized.
- Gaiagi Driver – basically the site combines Maps and Earth and allows you to "drive" a route after you enter a set of addresses.
After the intial demos, the Google team was around answering questions. Each of the Googlers spent over 15 minutes with me talking about different examples and showing me various code snippets. Google even offered a fancy spread of food for everyone.
I talked with some of the attendees about why Google Maps continues to increase their share against Mapquest. My belief is that it’s events like the Hackathon today that shows the reason. Google made their Maps tool open to allow people to build upon it. It’s not just a simple map/driving directions tool — when you see what people build upon it, you know it’s way more than that. Sure Mapquest will continue to add new features — but will it be enough to keep the service top of mind, even for the less than average Internet users like my mother? More on this topic soon.
I just learned from the NYC Webstandards group that Google is going to hold a hackathon next week for their Google Earth and Maps products. Here’s the info, "Google is having a hackathon for Google Geo APIs on March 5th, 3-9pm at the Google Manhattan offices, 111 8th Avenue at 15th street. You will be given guidance on building Google Geo Applications, and Google engineers will be on hand to answer your questions. Bring your laptop, you’ll need it!"
I plan to attend and as always if you want to go, you better register straight away as their Hackathon events fill up quickly. You can register here.
So the hot news this morning is Google's acquisition of ImageAmerica, a company that builds high resolution cameras for the collection of aerial imagery. So if you didn't like photos of the front of your house or car or you standing in front of a porn shop, just wait.
Arnold from Search Engine Journal notes, "Google Earth and Maps will soon be rolling out this high-res aerial imagery in the days to come. Google is hoping to strenghten its dominance on web satellite imagery and image mapping technology. ImageAmerica is expected to enhance the depth and quality of Google Earth and Maps imagery."
I remember when the "party" area where I lived a few years ago considered installing cameras to monitor the streets outside the bars. The community was completely against it with privacy concerns being the number one factor. It will be interesting to see what type of backlash Google will see in the future as they continue their attempt to control every piece of data in the world. By data I don't mean bits and bytes on a computer but everything we do. I remember a movie (can't remember the name) where a camera followed behind the man as he moved and kept a full history. We are almost there folks.
My top concern with these types of invasive tools is how our enemies will use them to our detriment.
This is a quickie from the "Great Idea" department. The Google Earth blog has a story today about Chris McCall of Provo, Utah. Chris is a new business owner and is in the pool service and cleaning trade.
The Google Earth blog describes Chris' use of the program as, "Rather than just sending a mailer to every house in a neighborhood, Chris got onto Google Earth and found the neighborhoods with the most pools. Then he drove out and wrote down the addresses of each house with a pool. He then used that mailing list to do more targeted marketing of his services."
I think this is a brilliant idea. I would take it a step futher. Zoom in and see which houses have what type of pools. Try to gather as much information as you can from the images. Then send personalized letters which would note some information about the homeowner's specific pool. "Mr. Jones, I wanted to provide you with some free tips about keeping your pool running smooth this summer." And then follow it up with the services provided by Chris' company.
Chris' full story can be found on the AllPointsBlog.