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More Than Your Average Map: Google Maps And "Mash-ups"

A new "tasty" way to look at places, locations and geographic relationships of information




Creative Commons licensed photo by flickr user "seriouslygood1"








About Web Maps

Getting maps, locations, driving directions on the web was pioneered by Mapquest and Yahoo, but there is much more to just finding the right location with the map technlogy offered by Google Maps.


The web exerience with Google Maps is unique, because rather than waiting for an adjacent portion of the map to load or a zommed in view, Google Maps does this in a more fluid like manner by preloading information and some other new web technologies.


But there is more. The map data of streets, towns, rivers, highways can be toggled with an aerial view obtained from satellite images, for example if you were fascinated about where District Office is and what it looks like from the sky:



Give It A Try

For a hands on activity, try this activity:


  1. Go to Google Maps at http://maps.google.com/ You may want to right-click (Windows) or hold-click (Mac) and then select the option to open the link in a new window. That way you can keep these instructions in view)
  2. Enter the address of the house you grew up in (If you do not remember the street address, try the city and town).
  3. When the map loads, click and drag with the mouse to move laterally in any direction and.or use the zoom slider in the top left to move closer or farther away.
  4. See if you locate your house or your old neighboorhood.
  5. Click the Satellite or Hybrid buttons in the top right to switch the map mode.
  6. Right-click (Windows) or hold-click (Mac) on Link to this page and then select the menu option to Copy the Link location. This is the URL that will go to the map
  7. Go to your notes page and enter this link along with any other observations you may have made about using Google Maps (see HowTo wiki for editing instructions)


Give It Some Thought

So how might maps and navigating them be used? Geography? Some math exercises (e.g. calculate the surface area of Lake Michigan? There is more that one can do with maps when it is associated with other information


Google Map Mashups

Because the technology for accessing data has been provided what are known as \"APIs\" to software developers, third parties can create new web tools and software that connect other data to Google Map data. These have been called "Google Map Mashups".


  • News and Maps maps provide links to news headlines
  • Gmaps pedometer Find a location in Google Maps, then use mouse to plot a route. The web site calculates the distance
  • Commom Census connects US Census data to maps, as you move around a map, data is dynamically loaded showing population and dmeographics for the area in view
  • Chicago Crime connects crimes to their location on a map
  • Los taco Tricks Unnitos Locate taco vendors in Seattle (why? wny not?)
  • Google Aerometer use Google maps to plot points and calculate the area inside
  • Housing Maps connects rentals and sales to their location; search by price criteria, connecting data from Craigslist to Google Maps
  • Road Sign Math maps locations of road signs that are "mathematically correct"
  • Skibonk connects weather conditions to ski resort locations
  • Google Trasnit Planner prototypes connecting public transit data/ruotes for locations in POrtland Oregon
  • Toledo Wifi if you ever need wireless internet in Toledo, Ohio


For more see:


Beyond 2D... Google Earth

Google Earth is a desktop application that uses some of the same data in the map to create a 3D navigational experience that is hard to describe in words:



Want to know more about a specific location? Dive right in -- Google Earth combines satellite imagery, maps and the power of Google Search to put the world's geographic information at your fingertips.


See also:



Wrap It Up

So what did you learn/discover from Google Maps? What ideas emerged for you? How might this technology be useful? Be sure to add these ideas to your own notes page


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