Wednesday, August 14, 2019

SearchResearch (8/14/19): What's your favorite geo-mapping / geo-information tool?

You might have noticed... 

... lots of the SearchResearch Challenges involve finding other resources--like mapping sites--and then using them to help answer the Challenge-of-the-Week.  

The new Google Earth on the web ( is a fantastic
geo-located information resource. 

An important set of things to know is WHAT resources are available... 

... and ... 

An important skill for any powerful SearchResearcher is the ability to FIND those sources.. and find new resources that you don't know about ahead of time.  

So this week's Challenge comes in two parts.  Both are a little meta, but together, I hope they teach a powerful lesson. 

1.  (knowledge)  What's your favorite geo-information resource?  It could be something we've already talked about (like Earth, Maps, Streetview, or Wikimapia), or you teach us all something about a resource that you use and enjoy.  What is it?  Why do you think it's great?  
2.  (skill)  Can you find a NEW geo-information (or geo-mapping, or geo-indexed anything!) resource?  What process did you follow to find it?  

In both cases, we're looking for Open-Access resources.  (I'll also take something that's really really inexpensive.)  

What do you know about?  What can you find?  

Be sure to let us know what you did to find your NEW favorite geo-resource!!  

Here's one example, an animated GIF I made from Google Earth (web) showing movement in Yosemite Valley.  

Search on!  


  1. I'm fairly simple when it comes to maps. Google maps, Google Earth and Google Streetview work fine for me most of the time. I also check the time view on Streetview - to look at how things have changed (when this is available). The differences can be interesting. Using the Streetview technology in the GoogleArtProject and the virtual explorer for visiting virtually museums, galleries and global heritage sites (Coral Reefs, Antarctica, etc.) can be fun (and lets me check locations before visiting - or decide to skip).

    I also use the Bing equivalents - and sometimes these give additional details although generally I find Google to be better for most locations.
    I've also used Yandex and Open - but these aren't my goto places. Similarly Apple Maps - although I do like the 3D Aerial view on this.

    For mobile, it's still Google but for public transport details I've also used Moovit and Citymapper. And Waze for driving - touch and go between this and Google.

    My favourite new resource - because of its implications for safety and locating people and places is - using 3 (random) words to locate any place on the planet to within a few feet. it's both online and an app. I came across this in a news story and played with it. I especially like the address it gives for where I'm typing this. (Not sure if I should enter it in full - but it describes me. The first two words are "cool.reader" :)

    What I'd like to find (but haven't yet) is an open access tool to locate where a tweet was posted from (assuming location is switched on). I know it's possible using Twitter's API and python / JSON coding (or a few sites suggest it is). However I'm not that techie / it's not that important for me to learn - and I'm lazy. I want a tool that will do it for me. I have used the geocode filter on twitter to locate tweets from a particular location which can give very interesting results. What I want is to do the reverse. E.g. if President Trump tweets, was he in the Whitehouse or Mar a Lago?

  2. 1. Google Maps is my go-to. I'm participating in the Local Guides program so I'm in there almost every day interacting with it. I like to geo-tag my photos when uploading them to Flickr, so use Google Maps to grab the latitude and longitude of where I took the photo before uploading.

    2. We had a few storms in the early summer with a lot of lightning. I just did a search on and found that I searched for [ lightning map ] on July 11. On the Search Engine Results Page the first link was;t=3;s=0;o=0;b=0.00;ts=0; At the time, the map was speckled with all of the different lightning strikes in our area and you could watch new ones popping up as well as see the result through the window. It also has a timed sound wave that is just a second or two off when you hear thunder as the wave reaches you. It has many other settings as well as mobile app versions.

  3. Geo Information Source: I use all the ones you mention plus I like these other 2 GIS

    This is a new one for me; don't recall how I found it though.

    what3words is a really simple way to talk about location.

    We have assigned each 3m square in the world a unique 3 word address that will never change.

    For example ///filled.count.soap marks the exact entrance to what3words’ London headquarters.

    Under Map options one can choose from Mapbox, Google Maps, Esri Maps, Openstreetmap and TomTom. Its curious to see how they differ clicking from to another.

    Rumsey Maps: No idea how I found this years ago
    Who doesn't like perusing olde mappes? The David Rumsey Map Collection Database has many viewers and the Blog has numerous categories. The physical map collection is housed in the David Rumsey Map Center at the Stanford University Library.

    The historical map collection has over 92,000 maps and related images online. The collection includes rare 16th through 21st century maps of America, North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Pacific, Arctic, Antarctic, and the World.

    I like to use them in Earth draped and shaped to fit a modern map. jon tU

  4. One more: Its map of Canada with an animated overlay of the smoke in the air. You can see 3 days worth blobs of smoke shifting about. Fairly accurate too. j

  5. …who needs maps when the world is this whack? all paths lead to Crazy Town/Perdition… the internet is messing with us…
    SERP… are those Huma's heels?…

  6. [NEW geo-information] finds Wikipedia showing

    Dozens of services and softwares to explore

    Fun for Remmij


  7. Just re-tried OpenStreetmap which Kaart uses. I've not used it for ages, as when I last did, it didn't offer me any more than Google. However either I've forgotten how good it was OR it's really improved. I looked at a park I know well, with several footpaths and other areas of interest. I've uploaded 3 maps to that show the differences. Bing was useless - hardly showing any detail of paths and extras but including a mini-lake that doesn't actually exist in the middle of the park. Google was a bit better with some footpaths. OpenStreetmap however.... It differentiates between paved paths and "woodland walks", etc. showing both. It shows bridges over the railway line. The only real advantage Google has is if you are caught short - as Google labels the park toilets!

  8. Yet another great map: a weather map animated with lots of options:;-136.8;5&l=temperature-2m&t=20190816/23
    No idea idea how I found it though. Is it called Ven TUSKee or VENT U sky ? No idea. j

    1. from their "ABOUT" - that you no doubt saw… from Pilsen, CZ
      The name itself, Ventusky, is a combination of two words. The first is the Latin word, Ventus, means wind, and the second is the English word, Sky - tried this to hear it in Czech…
      Czech & accent
      Mt. View

  9. My favorite is of course Google Maps, on a computer as well as on a smartphone.

    My most recent favorites are these two apps:
    GPS Locker for Android I am trying it. If it works as advertised, it should contribute to a smoother and more precise Google Maps timeline of where I have been.
    Circuit Route Planner Route planning for drivers and teams (unfortunately not free after the trial).

    On the computer, instead of the Circuit Route Planner, I am glad to be able to use RouteXL, for the same purposes (free up to 20 stops per route).

    Another long-time favorite of mine is Google My Maps. I use it to plan dream trips like the fastest way to cross all continental US states (Fastest 48) or mapping the most interesting museums of spectacles in the world (I've done this map for a book).

    On my smartphone, I use intensively mobility service providers (MSP/TNCs): in Portugal I use Uber or Kapten (but there are two more providers: Cabify and Bolt, plus a platform for taxicabs). Bike, scooter, goped and car-sharing apps (in Portugal there are at the moment 17 such systems and corresponding apps, including Jump, Lime, eCooltra and DriveNow).

    Recently, while traveling to Berlin, I liked to use the very simple eastwestBerlin app, which only tells you if you are in what was East Berlin or West Berlin.

    On the computer or on the smartphone, apart from Google Maps, I also use ViaMichelin. Much more realistic travelling times, and easy to use and accurate cost computation.

    I like Wikimapia mainly to find neighborhood area borders (all over the world). I also like Wikipedia's GeoHack to compare different mapping services.

    Here are some more tools I use from time to time:

    Travel Time Map or the more complete but slower TravelTime Platform.
    Great Circle Mapper.
    Tools by GeographicLib, including Geographic coordinate conversions between lat long and UTM/UPS/MGRS, Direct and inverse geodesic calculator, and Rhumb line calculator.
    GPS Visualizer (can read data files from many different sources, incl. GPX, kml/kmz, GMaps urls, trk/wpt, xls/xlsx, csv and many many more); also, for the same purpose, MyGeodata Converter.
    The True Size …
    NS6T's Azimuthal Map
    Geomidpoint tools (their main tools don't work very well any longer — but there's one I still use: their Bearing and Distance Calculator)
    Instead of Geomidpoint, for the purpose of finding a centroid, I use MyGeoCenter.
    CalcMaps tools, especially the very simple Map Radius Calculator and Map Area Calculator.
    I loved Ulrich Deuschle's Generate a Panorama webtool but apparently it is no longer working :(

    I also like to dream of perfect places to live while browsing this interactive map: (Most) locations of the Earth plotted by the temperatures of their warmest and coldest months | scatter chart made by Felipehoffa | plotly.

    1. I was too excited about GPS Locker. After trying it for a week, I must say that it is not working as I expected: my Google Maps timeline paths are as jumpy as always. I can't find a good free solution for this problem.

    2. Yeah.. I know what's going on.. the sampling rate was significantly decreased. When it was first introduced, the sample rate was fairly high (like 1/minute). Now it seems to be much much slower (1/10 mins?). Consequently, the accuracy and depiction of what you're doing has gone way down. Alas.

  10. I decided to expand on Google Maps in a second comment, because I really use a lot of its features, including search, map, sattelite and terrain views, getting coordinates of a point, and finding directions with single or multiple stops (walking, bicycling, driving or using public transit); also "what's here", "search nearby", and "measure distance" tools; as well as giving feedback on missing or wrong information on places and roads. I also use Location sharing (permanently for two chosen friends, occasionally when I'm going to meet someone), and places (including labeled places like my brother's home, or places I want to go). I also contribute sometimes with ratings, reviews and photos (I'm a local guide level 6). I use the Timeline feature very often, editing entries when necessary, and editing missing activities. Finally, I've been using Plus Codes in the past year, which I find much better and easier to use than the Global Postal Code universal addresses.

    Then, I use Google Street View daily. I use it on Google Maps much more than its independent app, including looking for historical imagery.

    Finally, I should also mention Google Fit, which I also use to check on my daily walkings. I like particularly "Heart Points", mainly because I'm glad that they're awarded for almost any normal day-to-day walking of mine (probably because I walk in a fast pace).

    1. I was reading through your post and as I looked things up,
      ran across this about using google my maps with google drive
      and wondered if you used it that way too… I've never been much of
      a drive user — maybe I should start… will see if Dan is a drive fan.
      out of the 'dummies' series…
      maybe I wouldn't get lost searching in north & south Berlin next time… ;P
      fwiw - heard that Portugal is especially nice this year… concurrence?

      Ich bin kein Berliner
      travel idea source
      County Antrim, Northern Ireland
      Salamanca, Spain
      for Dan - Hawaiian bobtail squid

      crazy t - nos. 35, 55, 58, 66 &
      using instagram more…
      Berlin - a budget deal?

    2. Thanks for the Berlin links! I am actually coming back by the end of the year, because we found out that a week is not enough for Berlin!

      Some time ago, I actually noticed that it was possible to create a new map via Google Drive. However, when I use Google My Maps, I always just write google my maps on the Chrome search box and I the url shows up. I know it's something like

      (As to Portugal, the weather here has been amazing this year, yes. The social climate has been improving probably thanks to a concurrence of political players in the Government and the Presidency. Some areas are still very problematic but I guess we're going for the better.)

    3. muito obrigado - bom saber!

    4. Remmij - I'm definitely a Drive fan. All the time, every day!

  11. Replies
    1. Oh, I forgot to add one of my real favorites of all time: Google Flights. Unbeatable.

  12. I thought I'd finished with this one - until today, a real need popped up. I was "selling" the benefits of google's soon to be deceased "Fusion Tables" as a way of creating map mashups. I pointed out that this was about to die. (Checked it - we've another 3 months or so :( ).

    I didn't use Fusion Tables a lot (and I guess most people didn't either even if they knew about it) - so justifying Google's decision. I promised my contact some possible alternatives. I've not tested any of these yet - but shows how much is out there if you look. A quick search for: "google fusion tables" alternative
    gave multiple choices - several of which look good: e.g. - although not cheap for single user - at $99pm the opposite of cheap - free trial and then from $15pm - free trial and then multiple options - includes free and premium paid options. Looks like the lowest cost alternative.

    There are also loads of lists giving alternatives (including some of the above). There's even a Quora question on alternatives - and Quora is always a good place to go (or ask) if you want something but can't find it. (In this case, it misses some of the above but as the question is new, more answers may appear).

    1. Yes, I understand. I'm feeling the pain about the sunsetting of Fusion Tables. But this is a great list of alternatives, thanks.

    2. Also, a great point about the use of Quora. (Or a Stackexchange forum like )

    3. Agree on stackexchange. Thanks - need to use this more.

      Just looked on Reddit too - several relevant subreddits. - with some great and really interesting maps.

  13. I like a lot Street Views, Google Maps and Google Earth (which I can't use so much because it needs a lot of space and memory that my actual laptop doesn't have)

    For the second question, I didn't know What3words. Also new that I found reading on Twitter ChemaTierra or suggested on my timeline are:

    Near Real Time Volcanic HotSpot Detection System
    Also read about PlanetScope (searched and it is not free nor I understood how it works)

    Not exactly what Dr. Russell is asking. And helpful with geo-information:
    Simon Kuestenmacher


    1. Glad you like Simon's account, Jon and Remmij. Thanks to both of you for your posts and links.

      As my laptop is out of service, trying on mobile. Tried OCR on Google Photos using Lens and also the zoom option for photos in there. It's great that we can copy/paste text from photos (don't know if it is new) the zoom I just watched it some days a go. Tried with the previous Challenge photo. It didn't work to find it, most likely because number of results aren't many ( I guess just a few are the limit)

  14. use of GooMaps related… most sublimate to connivence & pervasiveness… am included in that group…
    does Goo know or speak to Big Brother, Tom Cruise/Philip K. Dick (Minority Report) or David Cicilline, Congressman for Rhode Island’s 1st District. DPCC Chair. Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman??

    1956 book
    it was predictable that I would post this… is it 2054 yet… we have no patience…
    or 1912? — (thanks Ramón for the Simon Kuestenmacher link)
    near the 'Latin Bridge' - someone should have seen that coming…

  15. Also thanks Ramon for Kuestenmacher link. jon tU

  16. who knew? (check Qgis2threejs. see below) from Ramón's link lead… metaphorically walking, not in a straight line… officer…
    from "rising star" Simon Kuestenmacher
    sharp dresser
    …would have gone with something like "simonhunOz"…nur sagen
    "The origin of the term was a reference to Attila the Hun in Wilhelm II's "Hun speech" (Hunnenrede) delivered on 27 July 1900, when he bade farewell to the German expeditionary corps sailing from Bremerhaven to defeat the Boxer Rebellion."
    a longer line - meh
    all led to this:
    Hayden - pretty & interesting
    petrarch 1603
    without the 1603

    where to find quality maps…

  17. the gif story…
    …didn't notice at first… (like the valley needs another tourist draw…) it might be a tribute to Alex?
    (there was a rumor that it was animatronic and once a year it stands, looks out over the valley and waves — once, at sunrise… I don't think that's true…)
    Antony Gormley was in Yosemite? - "Napping" or "Sunning" — it looks like a large piece… a bit hard to view though…
    in Greece
    chronological map — of sorts

  18. One more: Marine Traffic
    We use it to see the names of the cruise ships passing by to and from Alaska. Its simple and accurate.

  19. Another One more: Great Circle Mapper Aircraft routes and times and speeds between just about every airport in the world.

  20. …regarding the GIF you made from Google Earth (web) showing movement in Yosemite Valley… already action being taken –
    (GOTGGSOC - gov of the great golden state of Cali) (I'll also take something that's really really inexpensive.) how much is twitter?
    to move or not to move, that is the quandary…
    the future PHOTUS wannabe & MJ impersonator & …
    socialmedia may be malevolent… in P/A, unexpected ways…
    (today) sunset over a plumber… it cracked me up…

  21. Replies
    1. Nice resources. (I really like the Devon Island story. Google Maps *almost* on Mars!)