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1/23/2007
06:27 PM
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GeoCommons Promises Free Data for Map Mashups

A new social network looks to tap into auto-generated maps to allow for various analyses.

Next month, a deluge of data is scheduled to be made freely available to online map makers. That's when FortiusOne expects to open the GeoCommons, a social network and public data repository for users of Google Maps and other map applications.

"We are internally testing it now and migrating the data over," said Sean Gorman, CEO and founder of FortiusOne, in an e-mail. "Getting all the data moved and associated with individual profiles in a method that makes since ended up being tougher than we thought."

In a blog post, Gorman describes GeoCommons as "an auto-generated map mashup that you can use to publish various analyses incorporating data that lives within GeoCommons, which you can then share with the world."

Initially, the GeoCommons online workspace will work only with Google Maps, but support for other map platforms is planned. The data itself, in GML (Geography Markup Language) and KML (Keyhole Markup Language) formats, is platform-neutral.

As an example of what can be done, Gorman on his company's blog describes the process of importing noise sensor data gathered from airplanes in the Netherlands, processing it with FortiusOne's heat map technology, and representing the information on a Google Map.

Gorman said there are "lots of cool new data sets in the works." These include data sets like the Census Transportation Planning Package, which details hundreds of variables about people's jobs and commutes, agricultural census data (33 variables), jail census data (1000 variables), and a variety of health-, economic-, environmental-, climatic-, political-, and tax-related databases.

Perhaps more significantly, GeoCommons members will be able to contribute and publish data sets of their own for use by other map makers.

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