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Maps Meet Mashups

Location data mixed with other information on the Web tells who, what, and most important, where
It's more common to find location mashups about the business world that have been created by independent developers, not the businesses themselves. A "deal map" at www.socaltech.com/intelligence/map, created with the Google Maps API, displays the geographic distribution of venture funding. Site visitors can narrow their results on a map by selecting an industry or round of funding. And Ian Spiro, a freelance developer in Silicon Valley, created a Google Maps mashup of fast-food restaurants in the United States. Spiro used data obtained from the Web, not directly from the restaurants.

CREATIVE COMBINATIONS

More than 4,000 "collections" are created each day by users of Microsoft's Live Search Maps. Microsoft defines collections as "mashups for the masses," says Alex Daley, lead marketing manager for Microsoft's Virtual Earth business unit. Collections don't require the programming know-how of a Web developer--no knowledge of Ajax required.

There's no limit to how informative and creative consumer location mashups can get. Fans of HBO's The Sopranos can pinpoint key events from the TV show at www.hbo.com/sopranos/map, while the site's Crime.Organized feature combines, among other information, a map showing locations where bad things happen, such as the Bada Bing club's parking lot or a cemetery.

Fortune's 100 best companies to work for, plotted on the Mibazaar.com blog

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Fortune's 100 best companies to work for, plotted on the Mibazaar.com blog
A top pick on the Google Maps Mania blog is Healthmap (www.healthmap.org), a mashup that brings together data sources to present a unified view of infectious diseases around the world and their effect on people and animals. The mashup was created by Clark Freifeld, a research software developer with the Children's Hospital Informatics Program at Children's Hospital Boston, and John Brownstein, a pediatrics instructor at Harvard Medical School. Among the information sources it pulls together are Google News, global electronic reporting systems that track disease outbreaks, and official alerts from the World Health Organization. The data is aggregated by disease type and displayed on a map; visitors can link to the original alerts from the map. The mashup is widely used by public health officials and international travelers.

A popular mashup created using Yahoo Maps is Runningmap (www.runningmap.com), which lets runners plot their routes and measure the distance. Developed by Randy Troppmann, founder of Web application development company Spin Technologies, the mashup contains a live chat window for sharing running tips and links or asking questions.

The Yahoo APIs also were used to create the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' synchronized map and time line, which lets visitors explore the life of William Shakespeare (www.kennedy-center.org/explorer/shakespeare). You can get a crash course in major events in Shakespeare's life by clicking on the locations where his plays were staged.

To mashup or not to mashup? That is the question. Businesses need to stop pondering it and learn from consumer sites.

Continue to the sidebars:
GPS Mashups Are Going Nowhere,
and Using Google, Microsoft, And Yahoo APIs To Create Mashups