As planners, geographers, researchers, etc. we're all excited about the opportunities that Google Earth provides for our daily work. But looking at this survey/question Lifehacker posted today (amongst a tech-savvy audience), it doesn't seem like the data, information and interactivity we create on top of it has hit the masses yet. At the time of this post, 66% use it very infrequently, though the options are poorly worded/incomplete. But the comments provide a nice overview of how different users apply GE:
... Google earth helps me get a nice lay of the land so to speak before I travel anywhere ... maybe for my science teacher trying to explain global warming, but the only time I've actually USED Google Earth was for a science project ... Sometimes, I will "fly" to my mom's house when I feel homesick ... I've used Google Earth to track most of our Geocaching expeditions ... I do a bit of cycling and skiing. It's great to export the kml file, and show other people where you have been ... and of course: I get a bit sentimental when I look at my own house in Google Earth, and see my old 1985 V-8 Thunderbird still parked in the driveway! I miss that car... I stupidly sold it, years ago
- just to offer a few sound bites. What really strikes me is that nobody mentions any planning related uses - no zoning maps, no 3D visualizations of new buildings, no fly-throughs for masterplans/comprehensive plans...
It's fascinating to see how new web technology is reshaping story telling. I recently found this great example of science fiction story telling via the O'Reilly Radar:
Penguin books is working with 6 authors to tell 6 stories in 6 weeks. The first one, The 21 Steps, is told via embedded Google Maps. Wow. What a great method of delivering stories, especially this one that follows a man around town (inspired by the classic thriller The 39 Steps).
EveryBlock launched end of January as a geo-referenced news and data aggregation platform in San Francisco, New York and Chicago.
The site attempts to answer one deceptively simple question: “What’s happening in my neighborhood?” For EveryBlock, it boils down to three types of information: geographically-relevant news and blog entries, civic information, and “fun from across the web.” (via TechCrunch).
They received over $ 1m in last years Knight Foundation News Challenge in competition with our iCommunity.TV.
Besides the huge potential and the interesting ambitions of this endeavor, their online maps caught my attention. Unlike most other spatial web applications, they didn't build a mashup using base layers from Google, Yahoo or Microsoft.
With Google Maps or any other web-based mapping service, we’d be limited to the color palette, typeface, and other design elements that service’s designers chose. While those maps can be handsome products, their choices aren’t our choices, and don’t mesh well with our site’s aesthetics. Additionally, maps are fundamentally layered — eg., a parks layer sits on top of a streets layer, which sits on top of a cities layer, and on down. Maps can be composed of many such layers, up to a dozen or more. The maps from Google Maps, however, don’t let us choose which layers we receive. They are “collapsed” down into a single image, one that is well-designed for general purpose, but one that includes layers we’re not interested in displaying.... (via their blog)
My last project at CU last year just launched. It's a showcase project to demonstrate the use of an interactive mapping tool to gather expert and local knowledge about future growth in the region, in this case the ACCEA Project.
We have constructed a policy-focused model to assess possible cumulative development effects related to the C-470 Corridor project. The emphasis in this analysis is on the explicit definition of development rules which govern whether or not specific parcels are likely to be built out. These rules are derived from review of local and regional policies. Our design relies on readily available spatial data and models as well as interviews or focus group meetings with individuals involved in local development processes. This interactive website could make the collection of feedback on existing data from developers, local experts and community members easier and more effective.
We decided to use Worldkit again as the mapping platform. Since this was a project with a quick turnaround time, messing with a custom mapserver application didn't seem worth the time. Worldkit provided a simple mapping solution with a tiled base map for faster loading, zooming and panning and flash overlays. Unfortunately Google Maps integration is not on the development roadmap for Worldkit so future use is somewhat limited if this is a requirement. By integrating Worldkit with Drupal, we gained access to Drupal's great set of features to quickly build a platform with different access levels, taxonomy, comment features, list building and export features.
From his presentation:
Geographic tools have emerged that useopen-standards and support users creating and sharing their owngeodata. Together, these tools form a GeoStack that enable the entirelifecycle of data.
This talk will discuss the technologiesthat currently comprise the GeoStack and how it is enabling users toshare and use geographic data. Developers can fit their tools into anypoint along this stack, or add to existing services. We'll also discussthe future of the geotools.