Hack 97: Get Your Data on a Map
The launch of Google Maps (http://maps.google.com), the search engine’s online geographical mapping application, ushered in a revolution in visualizing location-based data. Not only do Google Maps’ built-in features help you find establishments, addresses, and driving directions, but Google opened its maps interface to third-party developers for their own use. The result is a host of Google Maps mashups, which plot sets of data onto web-based maps.
These map mashups are an incredible way to see geographical information in a new manner. This hack points you to several of the best mashups that can help you adjust your commute home from work for traffic, decide where to live, help you find a nearby used car for sale, and figure out how far your jog across the bridge this morning really was.
Flippity (www.flippity.com): In this eBay maps mashup, browse items on eBay for sale near you.
gCensus(www.gcensus.com): View census data associated with the area you’re viewing on a map.
MapMyRun (http://mapmyrun.com): Plot running routes and calculate the distance and your speed based on time.
Trulia Home Price Maps (www.trulia.com/home_prices): See how much homes sold for near a specified address or within a certain ZIP Code.
Fast food restaurants (http://fastfoodmaps.com): View all the locations of popular fast-food chains by area.
Full Screen Weather (www.wunderground.com/auto/wxmap): See the weather for a particular place on the map, as shown in Figure 10-14.
Figure 10-14: The weather for Los Angeles, CA, displayed on the Weather Underground’s Full Screen Weather map.
In addition to plotting various sets of data, Google Maps’ open API enables a new breed of user-generated maps to flourish. Several of those applications enable users — or groups of users — to create annotated maps with photos and video. For example, a knitting group may publish a map of all the best yarn stores across the country. Or someone who just moved to Seattle may want to share a map with photos and videos of new favorite spots. These things are all possible with this new breed of web application. For more clever ways to put your life on a map, see Hack 83, “Remember Where You’ve Been Using Location Awareness.”