user-generated accuracy

Now that GoYellow Maps has been live for a couple days, i find it interesting that the most common reaction is to note that the map data is out of date in some places, by between 1 and 4 years. we are not alone with this: map.search.ch pretty much saw the same phenomenon, and google maps encounters it too.

i am wondering if this is a trick that perception plays on us: if we see an image of sufficiently high quality, our disbelief is suspended, and we assume immediacy. case in point, when my dad first saw the nice bird’s eye pictures from MSN local, he immediately asked why the cars in the picture are not moving. while we wait for the advent of real time satellite data, the lesson seems to be that the additional precision and detail of hybrid maps make any problems with accuracy more obvious. overall, i think it is a fair trade-off given that these hybrid maps fascinate people enough to seek out these inaccuracies. i mean, when is the last time you heard someone get excited about inaccuracies in a telephone book?

it might be possible, given easy to use tools, to harness this deep local knowledge people have about their immediate surroundings. at which point you’d have yet another industry hopping onto the user-generated content bandwagon.

mapping out germany

GoYellow Munich

The screenshot above is from GoYellow maps, a german yellow pages publisher. they are the first customer of my new startup and went live a couple days ago. it is an online map for germany with hybrid satellite/airplane and vector views. GoYellow allows you to overlay this map with yellow pages data, so it’s easy to look for wifi hotspots in berlin or radar traps across germany. of course, it also has the standard issue restaurants, atms, public transport, you name it.

bernhard has more. as noted elsewhere, the image quality is one of the distinguishing features of this application. together with our partner endoxon, we beat the quality you see at the GYM (Google Yahoo Microsoft).

speaking of the GYM, i get asked a lot how you can compete against them. besides kicking their ass in quality, there are quite a few companies that are afraid of going to the GYM, and are looking for partners. we are one such partner workout buddy. (ok, i will shut up about the GYM jokes now).

so what’s next for us? besides settling on a name (heh), there will be more coverage at that crunchy sub-meter resolution, goodies for the mashup crowd and more help for innovative users like this guy who is doing a competitive analysis of his cafe with data from the map. and more.

one-upping trulia and housingmaps

my friend bernhard‘s former company again pushes the envelope of web applications (their mapping site predated google maps by almost 6 months). this time, they are tackling real estate search, a field ripe for a better experience. while there are some nice efforts online by housingmaps.com and trulia.com (trulia seems to have inked a deal with google, their google maps integration does not even load scripts from google..), immo.beta.search.ch does them one better:

  • tighter integration between list view and map (just mousing over a list item show’s it’s location)
  • histograms for the search terms to give you a quick idea what the spread in prices is, for instance
  • shows matches in context (public transport, shopping etc)
  • leverages the superior map quality from endoxon
  • allows you to take notes for each object
  • shows you new matches for your search since your last visit

all in all, an excellent new site that can easily hold it’s own against us-centric players, and is at the same time without equal in (sadly, a web backcountry) switzerland.

GIS is the new sex

NASA released World Wind under an open source license recently.

World Wind allows any user to zoom from satellite altitude into any place on Earth, leveraging high resolution LandSat imagery and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) elevation data to experience Earth terrain (or any planet with the data) in visually rich 3D, just as if they were really there. Virtually visit anyplace in the world. Look across the Andes, into the Grand Canyon, over the Alps or along the African Sahara.

it is very easy to be immensely impressed by the pretty pictures, but the potential of the platform for documentary purposes (or even entertainment) is hard to overstate. yet another opportunity for me to link to spacenamespace :)

geocaching


my first association when i heard geocaching was akamai. caching internet content by location. way off-base.

The sport where YOU are the search engine.
A GPS device and a hunger for adventure are all you need for high tech treasure hunting. Here you can find the latest caches in your area, how to hide your own cache, and information on how to get started in this fun and exciting sport.

sure enough, there are 165 troves in switzerland alone. this sounds like something i want to try. i like maps, navigation and being out in the green, and adding in geek toys only makes it better..