Virtual Tourism

Virtual tourism, google maps mashup, google video

Google Earth in Your Browser

Wow - this is huge. Google Earth is now available in your browser. In fact developers can change their Google Maps to Google Earth applications with just one line of code.

Here is an amazing Google Earth browser application that I created from a video map. Video Earth is a map of over 300 videos from around the world. Now it has Google Earth imagery and 3d buildings!

It is amazing!!!!

Teen Murder Map of London

Unfortunately today I have had to update the Teen Murder Map of London after another teen murder in the UK capital.

Young actor Rob Knox, aged 18, was stabbed to death in Sidcup on Saturday. Rob was the fourteenth teen murder in London this year and the tenth fatal victim of a knife attack.

Boat Trip

There are no updates to report today - mainly because I spent yesterday boating. It was my first trip of the year on the boat and luckily the weather was gorgeous.

I have been thinking of tracking the journey on Google Maps - so when you play the video the map tracks to the video location. I'll probably never get around to implementing the idea - but you can watch the video instead.

I really like YouTube's new watch in higher quality option. If for any reason you want to watch a better quality version of this video go to the video's YouTube. The link to the higher quality version is under the video.

London Crime Map

I've updated the London Crime Map - adding April 2008 crime data.

As I was adding the Met's data for April to the database it occurred to me that it would be very easy to show the percentage change month on month of crime in the different London Boroughs.

If I get the time I might actually try and implement this.

If crime is your thing you might also be interested in our London Teen Murder Map.

Street View in Europe

street view car in Barcelona
The latest sighting of the Google Maps street view car comes from Barcelona. Flickr user zmx80 posted this photo of the street view car driving around Barcelona.

If the equipment on the top of the Google street view car looks too complicated just for taking panoramic photos you would be right. Google announced last week that it was gathering 3D data along with the photographs it takes for its on-line street views.

A number of people had already guessed that the car carried laser scanners from a photo of the street view car taken in Milan in April. Laser scanners can be used to produce detailed 3D models of buildings very quickly, and overlaying photographic imagery can give those models a more lifelike appearance.

So if street view doesn't manage to overcome the EEC's concerns over privacy it is likely that images of the buildings at least will make it to Google Earth.

Belem Tower, Lisbon

The Belém Tower is a fortified tower located in the Belém district of Lisbon, Portugal. It was built in the early 16th century in the Portuguese late Gothic style, the Manueline, to commemorate Vasco da Gama's expedition.

This defensive, yet elegant construction has become one of the symbols of the city, a memorial to the Portuguese power during the Age of the Great Discoveries. In 1983 it was classified, together with the nearby Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Belém Tower was built both as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon and as part of a defence system of the entrance of the Tagus river and the Jerónimos Monastery, which was necessary to protect Lisbon.

View a video of the Belem Tower, Lisbon

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Street View Privacy Concerns

This week Europe's data protection supervisor, Peter Hustinx sent out a clear warning to Google that their Street View technology must comply with European privacy laws.

"I'd encourage Google to work closely with European data-protection authorities. Taking pictures on a street isn't in itself a problem but taking pictures anywhere can be.

"Respecting data-protection laws is central to Google's business. Success or failure for them in Europe will depend on them respecting the laws. They are smart, I'm confident they won't ignore the laws."

Google announced this week that they will of course comply with European laws:

"We will not launch in Europe until we are confident that Street View
complies with local law, including law relating to the display of images of
individuals," the company said. "We'll use technology like automated
face-blurring and operational controls such as image removal tools so Street
View remains useful and in keeping with local laws and norms wherever it is

Privacy has been a big issue with Street View since its initial launch. Only one day after Street View was launched this image - supposedly of Mary Kalin-Casey's cat started a debate about Google's invasion of privacy. Mary herself was so concerned about Google's invasion of her cat's privacy that she posted the image all over the internet.

This image of a man apparently breaking into a house in San Francisco was one of the first Street View images to get picked up by bloggers and posted around the world.

That was closely followed by this image of two girls sunbathing in a park in San Francisco.

For some reason Street Views featuring scantily clad women are popular - this image of a
girl flashing
the Street View car as it passes has appeared on thousands of web sites in the last few days.

Of course in the wake of Google's introduction of Street View a whole host of sites have sprung up that allow people who find interesting Street Views to submit images. These directories of fun Street Views have discovered amongst other images:

Of course anyone can report an inappropriate image. If you click on a help link on a Street View there is the option to fill in a form if you feel the image is inappropriate. Google have removed a number of Street Views already. They have removed the image of a man peeing up a lamp-post, what looked like a drug deal taking place in Chicago, images they took in Fort Sam in Texas and the images taken from the drive of the wonderfully named Borings in Pittsburgh (who attempted to sue Google for breach of their privacy).

This is an example of what it looks like with the Street View removed - this was an image of a man being arrested.

Google have now introduced its new face blurring technology. There are obviously some teething issues with the technology as this Street View of a horse with its face blurred out shows.

Google are obviously hoping that this face blurring technology will be enough to comply with European privacy laws.

Google themselves probably have no choice but to introduce Street View in Europe. If they don't do it then some one else will. There are already a number of other Interent companies offering similar panoramic imagery. MapJack have produced street views in a number of US cities and a couple of towns in Thailand. City8 is a Chinese Internet company that has produced Street Views in China. EveryScape - 'Street Views' throughout US, Europe and Asia. This week Microsoft also announced that they will be introducing their own Street View type product with video instead of still panoramas sometime later this year.

What will probably keep Google ahead of the game is that last month they made Street View part of the Google Maps API (application program interface) which means that web developers can use Google's Street View in their own Internet applications.

Some early examples of what developers have produced are:

London Teenage Murder map 2008

I've started converting the data I created on Google Maps earlier this week of teenage murders in London into a Google Maps mash-up.

screen shot of the London Murder mapThe result is this London Teenage Murder map 2008.

The map isn't quite finished but does show the pattern of teenage murders in London this year (avoid Edmonton youngsters!).

Update: I've also found this BBC created map of the same teenage murders.
And this Capitol Radio Map of the murders as well.

Google Earth Image Update

Google have announced the latest image update for Google Earth. As always the locations affected have been announced in the form of a quiz:

1) This city is home to over 300 museums. Its flower is the bird of paradise and its tree is the coral tree.

Los Angeles

2) An historic landmark, this all wood luxury hotel was built in 1888.

Coronado Island near San Diego

3) This city's namesake was the Governor of Tennessee.


4) Many believe the Greek King Ulysses founded this modern day capitol city.

Lisbon, Portugal

5) Towering above many, this city is the 2nd highest capital on its continent.

Madrid, Spain

6) Considered the fashion capitol of the world, you can now visit this city with high-res imagery.

Milan, Italy

7) This is the city where Vegemite was invented and is now exclusively produced.

Melbourne, Australia (I'm not sure that Vegemite can claim to have been invented though - it was created as a copy of Marmite)

8) The cruise ship capitol of the world has gotten a fresh set of pixels.

Miami, Florida

9) The currency of this island is known as Manx.

Isle of Man

My guesses are in blue - but be warned I normally get a couple wrong.

Palazzo Ducale di Genova

Palazzo Ducale di Genova
The Palazzo Ducale di Genova (the Ducal Palace) is one of the better known buildings in Genova. It is the home of many exhibitions in Genova. The Palace was built in the 13th century but has been modified many times over the centuries.

The Palazzo Ducale di Genova is now home not only to many exhibitions but contains a bar, libraries and shops.

View a video of the Palazzo Ducale di Genova on Google Maps

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Teen Murder Map of London

In the UK Crime Maps have suddenly become a hot political issue. Another young boy was killed in London yesterday, which brings the total to thirteen teenagers killed in London so far this year. No doubt this will reignite the call for accurate crime maps.

I produced a London Crime Map (figures for March 2008) from the Metropolitan Police's statistics. The problem with the Met's statistics is that they don't give locations beyond the borough of where the crime took place.

However, because of the amount of publicity over teen murders in London, it was fairly easy to get the location of all teen murders from the press coverage and produce a Google My Map of the murders.

Teen Murder Map of London 2008:

View Larger Map
One conclusion from this map is that you shouldn't move to Edmonton in north London.

You can join in the debate on crime maps in London at the Free Our Data blog

Mespelbrunn Schloss, Germany

Mespelbrunn Castle is a medieval moated castle on the territory of the town of Mespelbrunn, between Frankfurt and Würzburg, built in a remote tributary valley of the Elsava valley, within the Spessart forest. One of the most visited water castles in Germany, it is frequently featured in tourist books.

The first precursor of Mespelbrunn Castle was a simple house. The owner was Hamann Echter, vizedom of Aschaffenburg, a title which means that he was the representant of the ruler the prince elector archbishop of Mainz Johann II of Nassau at the castle and town of Aschaffenburg.

View a video of Mespelbrunn Schloss on Google Maps

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Mashup of the Day

A little experiment I threw together to create an adventure game with street view has been named ProgrammableWeb's Mashup of the Day.

Yay for me!

It was a bit weird to find this out today as I've never really publicised the game. I posted the game on the Google Maps Discussion group just as a demonstration for other developers. It then got mentioned in the Google LatLong blog - which is where ProgrammableWeb picked it up from.

The coding in it is not that good - I guess I'll have to tidy it up now that people are going to look at it. If you want to see how the code should look. Have a look at the street view tour I produced for the Google Maps API demo gallery.

In that example I have separated the data from the logic (thanks to some suggestions from Pamela Fox) - and it is therefore much more elegant.

Storkyrkan, Sweden

Sankt Nikolai kyrka (Saint Nicolaus Church), most commonly known as Storkyrkan (The Great Church) is the oldest church in Gamla Stan, the old town in central Stockholm, Sweden. It is an important example of Swedish Brick Gothic. Situated next to the Royal Palace, it forms the western end of Slottsbacken, the major approach to the Royal Palace.

Storkyrkan was first mentioned in a written source dated 1279, and became a Lutheran Protestant church in 1527. The parish church since the Middle Ages of the Nikolai parish, covering the whole island on which the Old Town stands, it has also been the cathedral of Stockholm since the Diocese of Stockholm was broken out from the Archdiocese of Uppsala and the Diocese of Strängnäs in 1942. The last Swedish king to be crowned here was Oscar II in 1873.

View a video of Storkyrkan on Google Maps

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Comments Added to Star Viewer Map

I have added a comments feature to the Star Viewer Map. This has been a much requested feature and I hope it will be used for suggestions for the map.

Do you have a favourite Hubble image that I should link to?
Do you know a good video that could be added to the map?

If so leave a comment (the comment link is in the top right corner of the page).

Mobile GPS Tracking That Rocks

The video below shows a car being tracked in real time on Virtual Earth. The car is using Inca X Mobile Live Media GPS Tracking with Windows Mobile.

A narrated version of this video, explaining how it works, is available here.

Olympiapark, Munich

The Olympiapark in Munich, Germany, is an Olympic Park which was constructed for the 1972 Summer Olympics. Found in the area of Munich known as the "Oberwiesenfeld" ("upper meadow-field"), the Park continues to serve as a venue for cultural, social, and religious events.

The Olympiaturm (the Olympic Tower) dominates the skyline of the park. It has an overall height of 291 m and a weight of 52,500 tonnes. At a height of 190 m there is an observation platform as well as a small rock and roll museum housing various memorabilia. Since its opening in 1968 the tower has registered over 35 million visitors (as of 2004).

View a video of the Olympiapark in Google Maps

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