Monday, December 14, 2009

MashupAustralia Winners Announced

After a month of deliberations, the winners of the contest for the Best Australian Mashup were finally announced. The overall winners, receiving $10,000 in prize money, are Suburban Trends and Know Where You Live (both were featured on all-things-spatial blog in the last few weeks: mashups pt 1 and winners of GovHack contest).

Judging panel citations:

Suburban Trends - a mashup of different types of crime and census data that allows to compare and contrast suburbs by a range of economic, education, safety and socio-economic indicators. The judges thought the ability to compare suburbs visually combined with the selective choice of statistics was excellent especially in a field dominated by many entries using similar datasets.“

Know Where You Live - This entry bills itself as a prototype of a mashup of a range of open access government data based on postcodes so that you can truly know where you live. The judges loved the very citizen-centric ‘common questions’ user experience of this app and the groovy, and again, selective repackaging of what could otherwise be considered (we’ll be honest here) slightly boring data. The integration of publicly-held historical photographs and rental price data was a nice touch as was the use of Google’s satellite images in the header. Judges were disappointed that some of the data for states other than NSW wasn’t available for inclusion. The focus on compliance only with the most modern standards compliant browsers was not seen as detrimental to this mashup.”

Highly Commendable Mashup award and $5,000 in prizes went to geo2gov (an online service that accepts location information in a variety of formats, like address, postcode, lat/lon, IP address, and returns data on that locations as JSON feed) and Firemash (mashup of relevant twits and New South Wales’ Rural Fire Service RSS feeds; it sends twitter alerts for registered users if fires are reported in the vicinity).

Notable Mashing Achievements ($2,500 prize) were awarded to:
Best Student Entry
and $2,000 in prize money was awarded to Suburban Trends (yes, again) and Suburb Matchmaker:

People’s Choice Award and $2,000 in prize money went to In Their Honour, with the following citation: “The clear winner of the People’s Choice Award was In Their Honour — which is consistent with the judge’s thoughts on its usability. As commenter Nerida Deane said, ‘I just looked up my Great Uncle Al and found the site easy to use and I liked the information it gave me. Maybe one day I’ll have a chance to visit his memorial.’

Student Entry — Commendable Effort ($1,000 prize):

Transformation Challenge ($1,000 bonus prizes for mashups which enhanced and/or made the provided data available for reuse programmatically):

Congratulations to all the winners and pat on the back for tens of other participants who submitted great entries for this competition! Full story at and blog.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Maps in Viral Marketing

A quote from the Australia Coastal Watch website reads:

“Unbelievable Satellite Images! Recent images of Bondi Beach show a massive school of unidentified sharks cruising just metres from swimmers. Click the plus symbol to zoom in…”

This is a fake of course but a very interesting example of a low cost viral marketing campaign for a TV program that plays on people’s fascination with “unusual things” captured on Google Map satellite imagery. I have spoiled the fun by describing what it is all about but the key point I want to make is that maps have such a wide range of potential applications - limited only to one’s imagination!

Related post: Adding value to free online maps…
First spotted on: Google Maps Mania

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Favorite Places on Google

It is hard to keep up with all those new services that Google is rolling out! This latest initiative aims to make Google a significant player in location based services (LBS) market by bringing together businesses and consumers. In particular, Google has just started adding prominent businesses to its Favorite Places service and, at the same time, it sent out QR codes to over 100,000 businesses in the US encouraging them to display those codes in store windows. Customers can scan the QR codes with mobile phones and will be taken to the store's Favorite Places page, where they can read reviews. They can write a review and/or star the business as a favourite if they like the place. Alternatively, people browsing Favorite Places on the Internet can view the location of the featured business on a map.

Keir Clarke from Google Maps Mania wrote a very comprehensive post on this latest service, outlining a new approach adapted by Google to ranking businesses. And Kevin Benedict from Mobile Strategies for Businesses has just published a related story on barcode scanners on mobile phones. Very interesting reading.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Google introduces Aerial View

Just recently I presented a new Australian entrant into the online mapping game: NearMap, with a very impressive application for viewing high resolution, multi-directional aerial imagery. Today Google announced the release of Aerial View option for Google Map API that allows viewing objects on the ground from four different directions (actually 5, if you count top-down satellite image as well). Current coverage includes only San Jose and San Diego in California, USA but more locations will be added in the coming months.

Google ensured that the new functionality also works with existing overlays, like hybrid streets layer and other Google Maps services like driving directions. As Google engineers put it, “…this is a result of a lot of code and computing power that reprojects the imagery to make it easy to overlay data on the map given lat/lon locations like in any other Google Map type. The result is a great user experience together with easy display of data on the map.”

Microsoft was the first to introduce the concept of multi-directional aerial imagery in online mapping applications with its Bing Map Brid’s Eye view option. And Bing Map already has quite a good coverage of Australian capital cities.

First spotted on: Google Maps Mania

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Map of the future

Ordnance Survey, UK national mapping agency, has been trialling the use of lasers to create a detailed three-dimensional map of Bournemouth town centre. The map was generated from 700 million individual points cloud as part of a trial spanning three years, with every square metre of Bournemouth captured using a combination of land-based and aerial survey with high-accuracy lasers.

Glen Hart, Head of Research at Ordnance Survey, comments: “Three-dimensional maps in themselves aren't new, but what we've achieved in Bournemouth is a level of accuracy and detail that's never been done before. This technology could change the way we map the country, but also have a massive impact on things like personal navigation.”

Ordnance Survey says that it will be continuing with trials to help perfect the technology, but expects detailed mapping in three dimensions to be a reality within the next five years. On a small scale, similar maps can be easily created by anyone with digital photography and some help from Photosynth and Phyton scripts.

After: Ordnance Survey News Release