In a sign of the times, Google Maps may be adding a new feature: a circular red tag identifying locations with a confirmed active shooter. Google did this during the shooting at the (Google-owned) YouTube headquarters earlier this week, and Google Maps is reportedly in discussions with local law enforcement to add this feature. www.cnet.com/news/youtube-san-bruno-shooting-appears-on-google-maps/
This article written by a cartographer (professional map maker) compares Google Maps with Apple Maps and notes that Google Maps now incorporates so much data, much of it collected via satellite -- building data, for example, now includes detail of garages, tool sheds, bay windows, front steps, rooftop fan units... -- that "Google has gathered so much data, in so many areas, that it’s now crunching it together and creating features that Apple can’t make—surrounding Google Maps with a moat of time," insulating it from competition for the foreseeable future. www.justinobeirne.com/google-maps-moat
NASA recently updated its famous "world at night" images for the first time since 2012 and is employing new software to work towards providing real-time updates. This article explains some of the applications for real-time updates (like identifying areas of Puerto Rico without power after Hurricane Maria) and compares 2012 and 2016 images. www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2017/new-night-lights-maps-open-up-possible-real-time-applications
In advance of today's home school geography bee, I have spent some time this week playing with free geography apps. The two I like best? Geography Quiz by Peaksel (Android/iOS) and Geo Bee Now by Vishaal Ganesh (Android). The Peaksel app has, in addition to quiz questions, a photo and a brief explanation to support each answer. (The downside: there's an ad every few questions.) The Geo Bee Now app offers three levels of play, and the questions reflect a broad range of geographic subjects, similar to the National Geographic Society's geography bee. If you have a favorite geography app, please add it in the comments.
Google recently upgraded its cameras for the first time in eight years to provide Street View with more granular detail. (Street View photos capture more than just building fronts: analyzing the cars in the images also allows Google to draw inferences about income, race, and political preferences, among other things.) This site shows where Google's Street View has mapped and where it's heading next. www.google.com/streetview/understand/
After a natural disaster, a detailed knowledge of geography can save lives. First responders and relief workers need to know what was there before a disaster hit -- especially number and types of buildings -- in order to know how many people might be in trouble where. Using satellite imagery and open access software, anyone with a computer can help. You can get started with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team: www.hotosm.org/get-involved
Blog sharing news about geography, philosophy, world affairs, and outside-the-box learning
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