Virtual Tourism

Virtual tourism, google maps mashup, google video

London Gig Guide

We have fixed the London Gig Guide so that it now works in Internet Explorer. The Google Calendar was not loading properly in Explorer and was causing the page to hang.

IE users can now join users of Firefox in using the London Gig Guide.

St Peter and Paul Fortress, St Petersburg

Picture of the Peter and Paul Fortress
Today we have added a video from our favourite Dutch director on YouTube Antonwithagan. The video is of the Peter & Paul fortress in St Petersburg, Russia.

This is the third video we have featured from St Petersburg. The first we added was of The Hermitage and the second was The Peterhof.

We have also added a couple of more venues to the London Gig Guide and added another view to the Streetview Gallery.

View a video of the St Peter & Paul Fortress on Google Maps

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Google Maps Streetview

One of my favourite sites cataloguing Google Maps streetviews is about to hit the deadpool unless someone volunteers to take it over. The creator of Streetviewr says he doesn't have the time to run the site any longer so I would check out the site quickly before it disappears into the ether.

Alternatively if you are interested in taking over a superb website then contact Streetviewr with your interest.

Our much, much smaller streetview directory is available here.

Google Maps Gig Guide

The London Gig Guide is our new mash-up of Google Maps and Google Calendar. The site shows a number of London venues on Google Maps and uses the new GData JavaScript Client Library for Google Calendar to show upcoming gigs for each venue.

We only started the project today so the design is likely to improve over the next week or so and hopefully we will be adding new venues. The map is in no way an exhaustive guide of London venues because at the moment we are limiting it to venues that have a Google Calendar of public events.

Google Maps & Google Calendar Mash-Up

A week ago Google announced the release of a GData JavaScript Client Library for Google Calendar. Essentially this lets third party developers create applications that can read and write to a Google Calendar.

At the time I wondered how long it would be before someone would create a Google Map & Calendar mash-up. Well it took a week. Traffik have a demo of a Google Map that plots the location of events.

This video explains it better than I can,

Google Code - Featured Projects: Traffik

Google News Map

Imitation is the sincerest form flattery. So it is nice to see MediaScrape copy our Live News Map. Check both of them out and notice the similarities, even down to the ticker updates.

Of course MediaScape's site is better designed and the tags on their maps are links to videos. This was an idea we dropped as we think it makes more sense to just choose the news station you are interested in.

Although initially excited when we conceived of the idea we soon became bored of it. It just seems to make more sense to go straight to the news websites, like the BBC site, direct, than go to a map. However MediaScape could be onto a winner with the option to allow users to upload their own videos.

If we were really sneaky we would take MadiaScrape's RSS feed, run a location extractor on each item and add their news stories to our own Live News Map. Of course we won't - but just to prove we could if we wanted: (click on 'more info' and you can even watch the videos)

View Larger Map

The Royal Albert Hall

The Royal Albert Hall lit up at night
The Royal Albert Hall is an arts venue dedicated to Queen Victoria's husband and consort, Prince Albert. It is situated in the Knightsbridge area of the City of Westminster, London, England.

The Royal Albert Hall is one of the UK's most treasured and distinctive buildings. Since its opening by Queen Victoria in 1871, the world's leading artists from every kind of performance genre have appeared on its stage. Each year it hosts more than 350 performances including classical concerts, rock and pop, ballet and opera, tennis, award ceremonies, school and community events, charity performances and lavish banquets.

View a video of The Royal Albert Hall on Google Maps

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Second Life Becomes Google Earth

With all the talk yesterday about Google Earth becoming the next Second Life little did we realise that Second Life was developing into Google Earth. Digital Urban today posted a story about a company called Daden Ltd who have created a way for users to create georss feeds in Second Life.

The video below shows how a second life avatar can plot data on a map and then output the data to Google Maps or Google Earth.

Read more about this development at Digital Urban: Making Google Maps in Second Life

Street View and Privacy

The Google LatLong Blog today published a post explaining how Google will honour the laws of any country they decide to include in Streetview on Google Maps. This may be an indication that Streetview is about to appear in cities outside of the United States.

Streetview cars / vans have reportedly been spotted in Canada so it may be about to appear there. Or it could just be a response to the concerns raised by Canada's Privacy Commissioner over images of individuals being used without their permission.

Google LatLong: Street View and Privacy

St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral is one of London's favourite tourist destinations. The present building dates from the 17th century and was designed by Christopher Wren. The cathedral was completed on October 20, 1708, Wren's 76th birthday.

The cathedral is built of Portland stone in a late Renaissance style. Its impressive dome was inspired by St Peter's Basilica in Rome. It rises 365 feet (108 metres) to the cross at its summit, making it a famous London landmark.

View a video of St Paul's Cathedral in a Google Map

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Google Earth Social Network

Avi Bar-Zeev at Reality Prime speculates on what kind of social network / 3D network Google might create in Google Earth (see post below). Avi is a co-founder of Keyhole and maker of Earthviewer which later became Google Earth, so he has some insight into the potential of the software.

Avi makes the interesting point that 3D social networks will probably centre around the concept of a 'home' in the virtual world, which will be your anchor point to tie all your social links together. He believes this falls outside Google Earth's main mission to represent the 'real world'.

However Google may create a separate fictional world from the ground up, "that would fit with the theme of Google Earth, Mars, Moon, and Sky. It’s just one more set of data to visualize."

Read the rest of the article at Reality Prime

Google Earth to Rival Second Life

There have been rumours for a long time that Google were hoping to develop Google Earth into a 3D virtual world to rival Second Life. Today Google Operating System, a blog that keeps an eye on Google developments, reports on the first real evidence that this story could be true.

Students at Arizona University have been asked to volunteer to test a product "that will be publicly launched later this year". One of the questions on the application form asks if applicants have a Gmail account and if they are willing to get one.

Google Operating System points to close ties between Arizona University and Google. The product's name is "My World" and the logo shows a globe.

It sounds plausible that this could be a virtual world in Google Earth. Let's just hope it is not as dull as Second Life.

Canary Wharf Fire

On my way to shoot the Greenwich video (post below) I travelled through Canary Wharf. Whilst walking from the London Underground to the Docklands Light Railway I saw lots of smoke from the roof of one of the skyscrapers.

More information about Canary Wharf is available here.

This is a report on the fire from the BBC:

"More than 50 firefighters are tackling a fire on the 16th floor of a tower block in London's Docklands. The blaze broke out at the building, owned by Citibank, in Canada Square at about 0942 BST on Sunday.

A spokeswoman for London Fire Brigade said part of the roof and the 16th floor were alight. Eyewitness Joel Elster said: "It started off as light smoke than there was quite a big cloud of smoke on top and it lasted for about 10-15 minutes."

Greenwich Maritime Museum

After a year and a bit of adding other people's videos to Google Maps I finally got around to making my own. I guess the first lesson I learnt is it isn't as easy as it looks. I think my first effort is a bit dull and doesn't really do the beauty of Greenwich justice, but post it here nevertheless.

Greenwich Old Royal Naval College, Queen's House and National Maritime Museum

View Larger Map

360 Panoramas in Google Earth

I've been waiting for someone to add some 360 degree panoramas as a PhotoOverlay in Google Earth 4.2 using its new ability to embed spheres. Now my wait is over. 360 Cities has begun creating a Google Earth file for their thousands of panoramas.

At the moment they have only converted a few of the panoramas. But you can have a look at the Stockholm KML to get the idea. It is quite impressive to be able to step inside the panorama and be able to look all around.

Netvibes Tab

Netvibe users who are interested in digital maps might appreciate the mapping tab we have created. The tab includes RSS feeds from a few of our favourite digital mapping websites such as Google Maps Mania, the Google Earth Blog and many more.

Click this button to add this tab to your Netvibe page.

Add to Netvibes

Google Video Map Update

a photo of Red Square at night with a full moon
Another small update to the Worldwide Video file for Google Earth and Video Map today.

We have added videos of The Royal Park in Norway, The Badshahi Mosque in Pakistan and Red Square, The Ostankino Tower, The Hermitage Museum and Peterhof in Russia.

Download the Worldwide Videos for Google Earth (Google 4.2 required)
View the Video Map

Videos in Google Maps

You can now add the Video Map to Facebook.

Because of the size of the canvas screen that Facebook allows applications to use we actually recommend you view the Video Map from this page but if you are a regular Facebook user then this Facebook application is for you.

Add Video Map to Facebook

Google Earth Videos

a picture of the Auckland Sky Tower lit up at night
We have added a network link to the Worldwide Videos KML. This means the file will update with new videos automatically each time you open it in Google Earth.

We have also added three New Zealand videos to the Worldwide Videos KML and to the Video Map.

Download the Worldwide Videos KML (Google Earth 4.2) required)
View the Video Map

Video Maps

a picture of a sailing boat during sunset
In the post below on Video Mapping we say that we haven't seen any other Google Earth files that utilise Google Earth 4.2's ability to view videos from within Google Earth.

Well today we hear that EarthNC released a Worldwide Boating Videos KML. All the videos are sailing/boating videos that have been added to YouTube and that have been geotagged.

This reminded us of the Worldwide Airports KML from Plane Places which was produced with help from EarthNC.

Virtual Time Travel

Today we have added a number of vintage films to the Virtual Time Travel map. The videos include Mount Vesuvius erupting in 1944, some of the first films ever shot by the Lumiere brothers in the 19th century and some more vintage films of America from Thomas Edison.

Video Mapping Update

Now that Google Earth 4.2 allows the embedding of videos it is an opportune moment to assess the current state of video maps. We aren’t aware of any other sites that have produced collections of embedded videos for Google Earth similar to our own Worlwide Video KML so we will stick to Google and Yahoo Map mashups for now.

Professionally Produced
Geobeats logo
There are a number of travel sites that now produce professional looking travel videos and use maps to demonstrate location. My favourite in this category is geobeats which uses Yahoo Maps to place-mark their videos from around the world. Geobeats actually embeds the map within the video rather than the other way around. Therefore when you are watching a video you can click on the map link and a map of videos in the same area appears. Geobeats provides a Google Earth file of their videos so you can view the links to the videos in Google Earth. However as yet the videos are not embedded in Google Earth so you have to link back to the geobeat site to actually view the video.

Lonely Planet TV logoLonely on the other hand uses the Google Map API and embeds and plays its videos from the map. The actual screen size of the video player is a little small but the killer app of Lonely Planet tv is that you can embed a map in your own website.

Mappeo logoA new entrant to video mapping is Mappeo. Mappeo mashes up the Google Maps API with the YouTube API to provide a video and location search. For example search for cathedrals in London and Mappeo will embed any YouTube videos that are tagged 'cathedral' and 'London' onto a Google Map.

On a smaller scale than geobeats, Mappeo and Lonely Planet tv is one man outfit Visititnow. Visititnow features tourist videos of northern Italy and uses Google Maps to highlight the location of each video. The main reason I find myself returning to this site again and again however is that the videos are wonderfully shot and edited.

Moom is a Japanese version of YouTube that plots submitted videos on a Google Map. This is therefore a great resource for Japanese videos but like Google Maps’ YouTube maplet the videos aren’t usually that illustrative of the location where they have been placed.

Smaller Scale Sites

This problem of not particularly illustrative videos or videos that aren’t that well produced is one that is shared by Virtual Video Map. The site promises that it will soon have the option to add your own video makes this a site to watch out for. At the moment Virtual Video Map is similar to our own Video Map, which, while acknowledging our own obvious bias, we believe is a collection of higher quality videos.

On an even smaller scale is Budapest Video Map a video map of Budapest which although it doesn’t have many videos has chosen some videos from YouTube that illustrate the location on the map. It has pages for North America and Australia which are blank at the moment but suggests the site will soon be expanding into other locations.


It is a bit surprising that none of these sites have yet taken the opportunity to use Google Earth 4.2’s ability to embed videos directly into Google Earth. This means that our Worldwide Video KML is probably the best option at the moment if you want to watch videos in Google Earth. However we are sure that this situation will soon change.

US Election Map

We've added some layers to the US Election Map. We have taken the data for these layers from World-Wide Webfoot's Mapeteria which allows individuals to easily create Google Earth files from census data.

Google Earth Videos

We have added some videos from the Netherlands to the Worldwide Videos kml and to the Video Map.

We have included videos of the Westerkerk, Rijksmuseum and the Leidsegracht in Amsterdam. There is also a video of the model village Madurodam, the Euromast and the Soestdijk Palace.

View the Worldwide Videos kml (requires Google Earth 4.2)
View the Video Map

Video Tour of Whitehall

Today I visited Horse Guards in London's Whitehall as part of the Open House weekend. Each year on the Open House weekend many buildings that are normally closed to the public open their doors to visitors.

The Horse Guards in Whitehall is the home to the Queen's Household cavalry and was once the headquarters of the British Army (they still keep a light permanently burning in what was once Wellington's office).

If you are in London this time next year I recommend taking the opportunity to visit this historical building. In the meantime you can try this short video tour of Whitehall.

View Larger Map

Google LatLong: Australia readies itself for a Google Maps election

Google have produced an impressive Google Map for the Australian election. The map allows the user to turn on or off a number of different layers.

We are currently building an American Political Map that works in a similar way. On our map you can turn on and off layers showing the senators for each state, the election results from 2004 and the make up of each state legislature.

The map is a work in progress and we will be adding more layers and improving on the design.

Google LatLong: Australia readies itself for a Google Maps election

Streetview On the Moon

We were the first to bring you embedded streetviews. Now we bring you streetviews of the moon.

The Lunar Module and the American Flag

The view from North of the Lunar Module

These streetviews (or should that be craterviews?) are the latest feature to be added to Google Moon.

This latest update includes higher-resolution map imagery, text search, and photos and stories from every Apollo landing. It also includes these streetview-style panoramas of the moon's surface, taken by the Apollo astronauts.

Google LatLong: The new moon

Yahoo Maps Embed

Yahoo Maps follows hot on the heels of Google Maps and Ask Maps by allowing users to embed maps in their own site. Yahoo MapMixer (currently in Beta) allows you to add an image to a Yahoo Map and then add the map to your own website via an iframe.

Here is the Roman Forum created by a user called travelkpr:

One nice feature of MapMixer is the Opacity slider, which allows you to change the opacity of the image overlay on the map. However compared to Google's MyMaps MapMixer is rather limited. With MyMaps you can not only add image overlays to maps but add placemarks.

Over 350 Videos in Google Earth

A photo of the Shwedagon Pagoda lit up at night
We have added five more videos today. Today's additions are,

Hassan II Mosque, Morocco
Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar
Durbar Square, Nepal
Kim Il Sung Square, North Korea
Kim Il-Sung Statue, North Korea

View the videos in Google Earth (Google Earth 4.2 required)
View the videos in a Google Map

Video Map Update

Picture of the Petronas Towers
Seven new videos have been added to the Worldwide Video kml and the Video Map.

The videos added are:

Temple Mount, Israel
Ballbeck, Lebanon
Leptis Magna & Sabratha, Libya
Petronas Towers & Menara Towers, Malaysia
Ggantija Temples, Malta

We have also made some improvements to the loading speed of the Video Map.

View the videos in Google Earth (Google Earth 4.2 required)
View the videos on Google Maps

Some Large Holes in the Ground

A blog called Deputy Dog posted a story about some large holes which has become inexplicable popular.

So not willing to want to argue about the interestingness of holes in the ground we thought we would provide a map of the holes. Click on the black squares in the map below and you can see the satellite image of the holes, some even have an accompanying video.

View Larger Map

Or view in Google Earth (requires Google Earth 4.2)

Video Map

A picture of one of the cave entrances in Petra in Jordan. The entrance has carved columns either side of the doorway
Another small update today, with five videos added to the Worldwide Videos KML and the Video Map.

Four of the videos are of landmarks in Jordan; Petra, the Roman Theatre Amman, the Roman Theatre Jerash and the Wadi Rum. The fifth video is of Persepolis in Iran.

To view the videos in Google Earth you will need version 4.2.

Download the Worldwide Videos KML (Google Earth)
View the Video Map (Google Maps)

Embed Ask City Maps

Ask City has followed Google's lead and now allows embedding of their maps.

For example, here is the 2012 London Olympics site,

Whereas Google Maps using an iframe to embed their maps Ask City just uses a static image so unfortunately the embedded map is not interactive.

350 Places to See Before You Die

a picture of Angkor Wat
Just a small update to the Overall Videos kml and to the Video Map.

We have added videos of Angkor Wat and the Pre Rup Temple in Cambodia and Erta Ale in Ethiopia to both the Video Map and the kml. We have also added a number of Greek videos to the Video Map that we had inexplicably overlooked.

Download the Overall Videos kml
View the videos on the Video Map

Videos of Italy

St Marks Square, Venice
We have added videos of Italy to the Worldwide Videos kml and to the Video Map.

The new videos include St Mark's Square and the Rialto Bridge in Venice, the Villa d'Este in Tivoli, the Roman Arena of Verona and many more famous Italian landmarks.

Download the Worldwide Videos kml
View the videos on the Video Map

Google Earth 4.2 is required to view the videos in the Worldwide Videos kml.

Video Map

The Eiffel Tower
You can now view the Worldwide Videos KML in a Google Map.

The new Video Map means you can view over 300 videos of landmarks from around the world without Google Earth.

Of course if you want to view the videos in Google Earth you can download the Worldwide Videos KML (Google Earth 4.2 required).

300 Places to See Before you Die

The Matterhorn
The Worldwide Videos KML now has over 300 videos of famous landmarks with the addition of a number of European videos.

The new videos include The Matterhorn, The Atomium and Charles Bridge to name just three.

To view the Worldwide Videos KML you need to have installed Google Earth 4.2. Earlier versions of Google Earth are unable to play the embedded videos.

Download the Worldwide Videos KML.

Streetview Embed

Streetviewr, a website that collects and displays interesting streetviews from Google Maps, has stolen a march on Google. The site now provides users the chance to embed a streetview in a webpage. Like the recent Google Maps embed facility it does this through the use of iframes.

Here is an example:

Each of the streetviews on Streetviewr comes with its own embed code or if you find your own streetview in Google Maps you can cut and paste the address and Streetviewr automatically provides the embed code.

This is an brilliant idea. I wonder how long until Google think of it themselves?

Central & South America Videos

Today we have completed the Central and South America Videos KML. This kml contains videos of a number of famous landmarks in Central and South America, such as Maccu Picchu, Chichen Itza and the Pyramid of the Sun.

We have also added the Central & South America Videos to the Worldwide Videos KML.

To play these videos you will need to have installed the latest version of Google Earth 4.2. Alternatively you can cut and paste the address of the kml into Google Maps.

Central and South America Videos KML
Worldwide Videos KML

Spanish Videos in Google Earth

The latest kml from Virtual Tourism is Spain Videos. This kml contains videos of a number of famous Spanish landmarks, such as the wonderful La Sagrada Familia, the Palacio Real and the Merida Amphitheatre.

We have of course added the Spanish videos to our overall Videos KML which has well over 250 videos of landmarks and attractions from around the world.

Download Spanish Videos
Download Overall Videos KML

Flight Simulator in Google Earth

The Google Earth Blog has discovered a secret flight simulator in Google Earth 4.2.

To open the simulator press Ctrl-Alt-A (Command+Option+A on the Mac) and Google Earth will switch to flight simulator mode. Once you have opened the flight simulator for the first time a link will appear in your tools menu.

Google have a page here explaining the key controls to use the flight simulator.