College Football, Monopoly and Towson University

A handful of cool things today:

college-football

College Football Stadiums: The Google LatLong blog has posted a KML that flies you to all of the NCAA football stadiums — 246 in all!  You can read about the file on their site, or download the KML here.  I did something similar on EarthSwoop last year and built a “swo0p” for all of the stadiums in each major conference:  ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC 10 and SEC.  The majority of them are rendered in 3D and look pretty sweet.

monopoly

Google Maps Monopoly: Starting on September 9, Hasbro is launching a giant Google Maps-based game of Monopoly.  The folks at Wired got a sneak peek of the game, and they’re cautiously optimistic.  The rules don’t seem to explain what the goal is (buy stuff near you, and maybe sell it later?), but the concept has potential.

towson-university

Map of Towson University: Towson University has built a slick custom Google Map of their campus, thanks to their Geospatial Research and Education Lab.  There are shaded polygons of each building, which click to reveal more information/links about that building.  You can select building types (Academic, Dining, etc), parking areas, and other transportation information.  It’s very well done.  (via Google Maps Mania)

Google ties business listings to StreetView

Google has just released a nice evolutionary trait to Google Maps — linking businesses to StreetView.

When searching for a business in Google Maps, you’ll now often see a link for “StreetView” in the description bubble.  Clicking that takes you to a StreetView of that location.  When in StreetView, you’ll see the familiar red placemark icon, which is even clickable.  Better yet, it’ll show your other placemark icons in StreetView as you pan around.

What I’d like to see now is a way to show ALL markers on the map while in StreetView.  It’d be nice to be able to move around in there and have everything clearly identified.  I imagine that’s on the list of things to come.

The video below shows a bit about how this new feature works:

Nessie found in Google Earth?

loch-ness-monsterThe Sun is at it again.  First they claimed to have found the lost city of Atlantis in Google Earth, now they think they’ve found the Loch Ness Monster.  Or maybe it’s a boat.

It’s obvious they’re just trying to (successfully) draw attention to their site, but they sure look stupid.  I love the response that Keir at GoogleMapsMania gave – he posted a bunch of UFOs found in StreetView, then a time traveling dinosaur! :)

You can view the image to the right, check it out on Google Maps, or in the Google Earth Plug-in via EarthURL.org.

Improved traffic info on Google Maps: See the side streets and contribute

Google has just announced that arterial traffic is now available on Google Maps.  I’ve noticed more and more roads showing traffic data over the past few months, but today seems to be the day of the big announcement.  In fact, there are certainly more roads in my area with traffic data, which could be very useful.

Arterial traffic on Google Maps

In addition, Google is now looking to use crowdsourcing to keep the maps even more up to date.  By using Google Maps for Mobile on your device, you can choose to have it send anonymous speed data back to Google’s servers to help them update the current traffic levels in your area.  This works on virtually any mobile phone that can run Maps for Mobile with a GPS, but sadly won’t work on the iPhone.

Google Maps Mobile - Arterial Traffic

A big question people will have about this new feature is privacy.  Google tackles that on their blog by saying:

We understand that many people would be concerned about telling the world how fast their car was moving if they also had to tell the world where they were going, so we built privacy protections in from the start. We only use anonymous speed and location information to calculate traffic conditions, and only do so when you have chosen to enable location services on your phone. We use our scale to provide further privacy protection: When a lot of people are reporting data from the same area, we combine their data together to make it hard to tell one phone from another. Even though the vehicle carrying a phone is anonymous, we don’t want anybody to be able to find out where that anonymous vehicle came from or where it went — so we find the start and end points of every trip and permanently delete that data so that even Google ceases to have access to it. We take the privacy concerns related to user location data seriously, and have worked hard to protect the privacy of users who share this data — but we still understand that not everybody will want to participate. If you’d like to stop your phone from sending anonymous location data back to Google, you can find opt-out instructions here.

It looks to be some great features.  I’m hoping they get the crowdsourcing aspects of it over to the iPhone, though given the recent fighting between Apple and Google lately, that seems unlikely to happen.

A ghost town from space

Earth is Square has a neat post today about viewing Centralia, Pennsylanvia using fresh Bird’s Eye imagery on Bing Maps.  Centralia was an active town of about 1000 residents back in the early 1980’s, but now is home to only nine people.  The reason is due to an underground coal fire that’s been burning since the 60’s, and will continue burning for as many as 250 more years.

In 1984, congress provided $42 million to relocate residents out of town.  Once gone, most of the buildings were demolished.  A recent episode of Life After People (an excellent series on the History Channel) featured Centralia as an example of what happens 25 years after humans leave a city (building decay, etc).

I was hoping that Google’s Historical Imagery feature would show aerial footage from a time when the city was populated, but it only goes back to 1993.   Below are some before and after photos.  Check it out on Google Maps (with StreetView imagery) or Bing Maps to explore further.

centralia-beforeBefore the evacuation

centralia-beforeafterThen and now

centralia-ge-1993Centralia 1993, as seen in Google Earth using the Historical Imagery slider

centralia-bingCentralia today, in Bing Maps Bird’s Eye

centralia-streetviewCentralia today, in Google Maps Street View.  The fog makes it even creepier.

Swiss want StreetView Disabled

It’s only been up for a few days, but the Switzerland Data Protection office is asking Google to remove the StreetView imagery they’ve shot in the country.  Their primary concern seems to be that “many faces and vehicle number plates had not been covered up or were insufficiently blurred”.  If memory serves, that’s not even something Google is legally obligated to do — they simply do it to avoid outcry from privacy advocates like this, though I’m sure the laws vary from country to country.

Hanspeter Thuer from the Data Protection team plans to meet with Google next week and help them “improve” the service.  It’ll be interesting to see if anything comes of this.

New StreetView and 3D cities released

helsinkiIt’s been a busy day for Google.  Earlier in the day they unveiled Helsinki, Finland in 3D, and the coverage is quite comprehensive.  Google Earth Blog has the details.

Also, as pointed out by Google Maps Mania, StreetView imagery has been released for a few countries.  This update includes a few major cities in Portugal (Porto and Lisbon), solid coverage over much of Switzerland, and also around Taipei, Taiwan.

All in all, a pretty busy day for Google!

Google launches new StreetView site

To help people better understand how StreetView works, Google has launched a new site that has a lot of information about the service.  The site explains how they collect the imagery, how long it takes to process it, the areas of the world that are covered, etc.

It’s probably not overly exciting for most readers of this blog, but it’ll be a great place to point people that have questions about how it all works.

More details about the site can be found on the LatLong blog.

New “Smart Navigation” in StreetView

Google has just released a new feature for StreetView that looks pretty simple, but it actually quite complex and intuitive.  When viewing anything in StreetView, you’ll notice your is in the shape of an oval or a rectangle.  When it’s an oval, you can double-click to quickly move to that location. When it’s a rectangle (usually on building facades), you can double-click to be taken to the best view of that area.

Google was able to accomplish this using some slick methods, as explained on the Lat Long Blog:

We have been able to accomplish this by making a compact representation of the building facade and road geometry for all the Street View panoramas using laser point clouds and differences between consecutive pictures.

For more info, check out the Google Earth Blog, watch this short video below, or go try it for yourself.

StreetView now in full-screen

Golden Gate bridge in StreetViewThis certainly makes StreetView even better — full screen mode!  When viewing anything in StreetView, simply click the small grey icon in the upper-right corner (next to the “x”) and it will go full screen.

There’s really not much else to say but go look at it yourself.  Go check out the Golden Gate Bridge, the Eiffel Tower (thanks GMM) or the World’s Largest Alligator.

If you’re looking for more great sights (or you want to share some you’ve found), check out the Google Earth Hacks StreetView gallery, Google Sightseeing, or StreetView Fun.