If you don’t drive frequently gridlock roadways, you may not care much about Traffic.com. If you never leave your house, having a mapping service like Google Maps may not help you find your way from the refrigerator to the bedroom closet. For the rest of us who live in traffic congested regions of the country and bravely venture onto the streets during those drive times of the early morning and late afternoon hours, a recent mashup-up of Yahoo’s Traffic.com and Google Maps pinpoint the high traffic areas in most urban areas. Greg Sadetsky, creator of the Google-Yahoo traffic mapping overlap, demonstrated some of the features from the Where 2.0 stage. One thing he illustrates is the geo-locations of accidents at any given snapshot in time. What I want to see long term is a map that shows geo-locations of accidents over time. Having historic data would help show some of the more dangerous areas to drive and either offer warnings of upcoming high risk areas or help make better informed decisions about improving roadways over time. I’m sure much of this data is already available somewhere, it’s just not readily usable because we’re all swamped with too much information. Pairing historic crash data with current maps makes driving risk assessment easier with an application that provides warnings on-the-fly.
John Frank of MetaCarta followed David Rumsey on stage. MetaCarta sells technology to couple mapping with document search, providing geo-location for points of reference within text. Basically, if you want to know everything written by your company about a specific geographic region, MetaCarta can link your research documents to the locations they reference. This isn’t particularly compelling from a consumer perspective yet, but if MetaCarta makes the technology publicly available we’re sure to see their technology integrated with things like Wikipedia to create a Encyclopedia of Earth with geo-specific documentation that actually delivers relevant results. This is one area I’m particularly interested in because at the moment there are still errors in search where I get information about Des Moines, WA when I want details about Des Moines, IA. Bringing data to a more micro level, the MetaCarta technology makes it possible to find everything written about a specific part of Des Moines, rather than the massive dump of information delivered under current results on the city when performing a local search.
I’m sitting in the opening session at Where 2.0 still marveling over the mapping mash-ups done by David Rumsey. He’s a collector of historic cartography with over 11,000 different maps available from his site. On stage Mr. Rumsey demonstrated some killer combinations of 3D topographical maps overlayed with some of the historic maps in his collection. While this seems gimmicky on the surface, it actually makes flat mapping more relevant because the maps are integrated in context with the environment. One timely example is a Rumsey archive map from the Lewis and Clark expedition paired with a 3D topographical view of the same path covered by the expedition. Sure you could re-create a similar map using software, but to get the perspective of historically hand drawn map from a 30,000 foot view of the topography, integrated with the ability to zoom in on specific locations and follow the Lewis and Clark trail, a new perspective is created. I’m not describing this with the same effect viewing the maps onscreen made, but it’s seriously one of the most unique mapping tools I’ve seen.
I finally found something about A9.com that makes me want to check it out. I haven’t paid much attention to their search technology because I’m still very happy with Google search results and don’t see much use in switching. Something I most likely will use is their new technology for connecting photos of a specific location and tying them to GPS coordinates to link map points in Mapquest to the images to provide a visual reference with an otherwise meaningless destination in driving directions. While static pictures would be somewhat cool, they’ve further raised the bar making the images navigable so you can see images next to your destination or across the street from your destination on the map. No more wondering if you’re in the right spot, you’ll know because you’ve seen it before you get there. Read on to see how it works.
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Quickly finding information on your PC using the Window XP built in search tools is just not the reality it should be. Even with indexing turned on, you either need a very narrow idea of where the file might be located or you need the patience to wait for a search through the entire file system. Several third-party tools offer to assist in file searches, at the expense of slowing your system to a crawl and lightening you wallet by quiet a few dollars. Copernic Desktop Search offers a great balance between the for-fee search tools and the native Windows XP search. Search is quickly available, with an imbedded search box right in the windows taskbar, so there’s no need to launch Windows Explorer just to find your files. An index of all relevant files on your system updates while your system is idle, so you get the latest results, without the performance hit of indexing during active computing. Outlook and Outlook Express emails are automatically indexed as they arrive and new files get indexed as soon as you save them to the hard drive. Smart searching looks for information inside your files, not wasting time with searching through core operating system components, which is a key slowdown in the Windows XP search. Copernic managed to make the system robust, keeping the index from accidentally getting corrupted due to a data overload. If any file type isn’t indexed by default, you can add the file type to customize Desktop Search to fit your needs. [Windows XP/Vista $0.00]
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