Sunday, 18 May 2008

Maps galore

With Microsoft's Virtual Earth beginning to compete with Google Earth there is an increasing amount of detailed geographical information available online to even the casual surfer. Google is now sweeping the streets of major European cities (and tussling with the privacy laws) in much the same way as it has done in the US for its 'street view' which is essentially photographs of every street and building, so look out for the Google vans with cameras sticking out of them! Meanwhile Microsoft's planes have been flying overhead for their "Bird's eye" view which gives unprecedented levels of detail (I can even see the broken tiles on my roof here in Galway).

Microsoft's software is of course only available to Windows users, but an increasing number of third parties (including An Post's GeoDirectory) are providing browser access and some, such as Map Channels, are even allowing you to easily display combined perspectives from both Virtual Earth and Google Earth in the same browser window.

Have a look/snoop around on their website, but in the meantime here's a simple combination of NUI Galway.


andrew said...

At NUIG resolution most online maps are currently fairly useless for a visitor. But we could easily do a lot to help ourselves straight away:

1. Have the city clarify and subdivide the official road names on campus. In Google, "Distillery Rd" and "University Rd" are catchalls for every laneway, yet roads on the other side of the bridge are unnamed. Distillery Road may even have been realigned back when the IT/Orbsen Building was built but not updated in the official map?

2. Make an official upload of photos of all our campus building, and place markers at the core locations. It may even be possible to include links into our own campus directory system.

I understood Google's aim was for community annotations like these to make maps more useful. As a (mainly Mac) user I am more dubious about Microsoft's motivations.

Iain said...

Of course Google maps/earth isnt entirely free. If you want to make annotations and user higher resolution contributions, etc, then you need to be a Pro User as do your viewers and that costs 400 dollars a time! however, you can annotate in a crude sense by adding links into flickr etc and using the basic placemarkers. In fact if you do that you'll see lots of public photos for Galway.

As for the official side of things...hmm..speak to the Buildings Office and the University Webmaster for details of that. At least they now have an interactive map of the main campus identifying the buildings and main lecture venues, etc.