New Mapping Tools Open a World of Possibilities

NetSquared
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Good visualizations of data probably light up entirely different synapses in the brain than almost anything else.  I have long wondered just how truly useful they are, though.  Over the past few weeks, I've been convinced that online maps in particular are a very important development.

GoogleMaps is a powerful new tool that people all around the world are utilizing for a wide variety of projects.  The system is highly functional, integrates data and imagery beautifully and is very nice to look at at the same time.  It is also very welcoming for people who want to manipulate maps to visualize their data. 

A class of web sites called GoogleMaps Mashups first hit the public consciousness in the form of housingmaps.com, a dynamic integration of housing rental information from the online classified ads site Craig's List and maps of the housing locations via GoogleMaps.

The Net 2 case studies include a number of inspiring uses of the GoogleMaps system.

  • Community Walk allows users to define their community of interest and easily make maps of relevant locations, with supporting info and images.   See, for example, this map of helicopter-relief landing zones in earth-quake devastated Pakistan.  What a fantastic use of an online mapping tool!
  • GhostCycle uses GoogleMaps to show where bike accidents happen around Seattle.  Cyclists report accidents and their circumstances, then the data gets aggregated, visualized and acted upon.  Very cool.
  • NY City Coalition Against Hunger uses GIS and GoogleMaps to map and make usable their information about soup kitchens and other social service agencies throughout the city. 

For information about adding a GoogleMap into your site, you can check out Paul Stamatiou's HOW TO: Embedded Google Maps.  To read more about GoogleMaps and see examples as they become available, you can visit (or subscribe by RSS) to the del.icio.us tag GoogleMaps.

Related: Over on my personal site a few days ago, I reviewed 4 services that create maps of where your site or blog's visitors come from.