UPDATE: The embedded VidMap was showing an error when trying to display the video. I’m looking into it, but I’ve given a link to the page where you can see the example.
Many sites now allow for quickly building your own maps and their feature sets are fairly predictable. With that in mind, I want showcase several unique features I’ve run across in mapping tools.
VidMap has journalistic potential. The site lets you sync video with a map, showing the aerial course of the video’s content. For example, I added this video of a trip along the Phoenix light rail and then clicked its course out on the map. When finished the video plays while a marker moves along the train’s route. This example is a bit mundane, but this would be excellent for displaying the movement of a roaming protest or showing the blocks of a neighborhood in a related story.
UMapper offers several distinctive features and one of them lets you make games out of your maps. It’s similar in style to the classic Geosense and its derivatives like Globetrotter XL. This would be useful for either helping the user master locations or saying something about the relationship distance plays in a story (as distance is part of scoring). This video gives an overview:
As well, UMapper recently made it possible to create maps with Twitter results. This adds thumbnails of tweeters to a map which show the corresponding tweet if clicked. Tweet results are drawn from Twitter automatically, so the map builder doensn’t have any input in filtering results. It’s also worth noting that tweeter location can be an inexact science as only a small selection of users enable GeoTagging and results from the Location field can be all over the place. However, there may still be potential uses for building a map where tweets alongside annotated map notes creates something interesting.
Micello is an application that shows maps of indoor environments. It’s relegated to just the iPhone for the moment, but this an extremely useful and untapped mapping realm. While the Micello feature set doesn’t mention shared maps at the moment, many stories happen within buildings and the potential to easily annotate floor plans with story details is an interesting one. For now, the content is primarily retail, but I’m enthusiastic about the potential.
What other interesting mapping tool features have you run across?