What can you do with Google Maps?

As part of my thesis I am trying to understand what are the things that people do with Google Map or with any other cartographic service. One of the way to answer this question is to look at new services/hacks/mash-ups that are developed around GM hoping that these will correlate with actual use. Here is a list that I put together.

  1. HousingMaps: Craigslist apartment listings plotted on Google Maps
  2. Found City: A community-generated map of interesting places in New York City
  3. Google Sightseeing: A blog that shows “the best tourist spots in the world via Google Maps’ satellite imagery.”
  4. Google-Traffic.com: Maps traffic data onto Google Maps
  5. Google Maps Wallpapers: Merges Google Maps satellite “tiles” to produce wallpaper or a poster
  6. Cheap Gas: Find cheap gas prices, powered by gasbuddy and Google Maps
  7. Entertainment locations listed on Lawrence.com are shown on mini-Google Maps inserted on the site’s pages
  8. Chicago transit maps on Google Maps
  9. ChicagoCrime.org. You can view crimes by type, location and a number of other criteria and see them plotted on a Google Map.
  10. Incidentlog.com – Real-time and historic archive of police, fire, and 911 incidents for many major U.S. cities
  11. A flight simulator which uses Google Maps
  12. Washington DC Metro Map
  13. New York City Subway Map
  14. New York City Subway Map – with lines and address search/plotting
  15. Boston MBTA Subway Map
  16. Gasbuddy and Google Maps for comparison shopping for gasoline
  17. Cytadia.com – Real estate ads geolocated on Google Maps (USA & Canada)
  18. Google Maps Pedometer – An application to measure distances traveled during a running or walking workout
  19. Los Angeles Earthquakes – Displays Earthquakes across Los Angeles (and the whole nation) with different icons representing different magnitudes
  20. Burbank Maps – Provides geospatial searching of news and realestate in Burbank, CA.
  21. Google Maps Route Planner – Place a number of points on a map, then ask to get a route with driving directions both written out and with a polyline on the map.
  22. GeoURL Mapper – GeoURL married to Google Maps. Demostrates how to use javascript RSS feeds to incorporate data onto google maps. Requires Firefox.

To resume there is a huge variety of hacks. The most common application consist in displaying fixed resources of the city like subway stations, or gas stations or things like that. Another sort of application requires to track variable features of the space like weather conditions or traffic etc. The only commercial application so far is the mapping of real estate.

We can also describe the above services in terms of the source of the geolocated information, which is given by some information providers. In other applications the source of the information are the people which contribute in the service. It is the case for Found City or SightSeeing. For a third category of these services the information is automatically bounded to specific coordinates using a gazetteer.

I think we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg of services using geolocalization. I share the enthusiasm of all the hackers out there imaging new services and use and I strongly believe that the killer app in this field must/will involve the community in the production of the information.

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