Saturday, 18 June 2011

Hurtigruten: 5 day TV marathon using Google Earth and Maps

My workplace, The Norwegian Public Service broadcaster NRK,  is currently transmitting a 134 hour boat trip along the coast of Norway, live and non stop! It's already a big hit on Norwegian TV.

Hurtigruten, the Norwegian Express Line, has for well over 100 years been the backbone of coastal Norway, bringing people and goods up and down the weather-beaten coast. Viewers are able to follow every minute of the trip on NRK’s channel 2.

You can see the live position of the ship, MS Nordnorge, on Google Earth (updated every 10 seconds):

[ Fullscreen ]

The live stream is available below and at from Thursday June 16th 2011 until the ship lands in Kirkenes Wednesday June 22nd. Don't expect a lot of action, just relax and follow the great scenery - this is Slow TV!

There's also a Flickr photostream and a twitter hashtag #hurtigruten.

The video material from the forward facing camera and an export from all the ship's data systems will be available for download. Read more about this project on NRKbeta.

Read more:

Friday, 25 March 2011

Cloud mapping by the Guardian

One of the great benefits of Google Fusion Tables is the possibility to merge data from multiple tables. The Guardian Datablog is showing an example of how you can combine your data with the Natural Earth tables I presented in my last blog post.

The Guardian is combining their travel advice table with one of my Natural Earth tables to create a merged table. This table is then used to create a choropleth map showing where in the world it's safe to travel (darker colours are countries with stronger warnings):

Fullscreen version

The map is created with the build-in mapping capabilities of Fusion Tables. 

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Natural Earth vectors in the cloud!

Natural Earth is a jewel among public domain datasets. I’ve made the entire vector dataset (175,000 features!) available on Google Fusion Tables (GFT). Now you can easily query and download vector geometries in different formats (KML, GeoJSON, WKT and SVG) with associated attributes. This experiment will show if Google Fusion Tables can be used as a cloud-based feature server.

All 139 Natural Earth fusion tables are listed in this table. Every table is public and exportable. A few features are missing at 1:10 million scale because the polygons where too large for GFT (the character limit for a given cell is 1 million characters). The data features are described on the Natural Earth website. Table names are identical to the original shapefile names. 

All tables include 4 geometry columns containing vector data in various formats:
The geometries are in EPSG:4326 (longitude/latitude, WGS84). I've only included three decimals to save space and bandwidth. The longitude accuracy is approximately 111 m at equator, which should be sufficient for this dataset.  

Unfortunately, the built-in mapping features of GFT are useless for world maps containing polygons and lines (both line and polygon geometries are displayed as markers at zoom levels less than 5).

Update from Google: "I'm delighted to announce an update - Due to some impressive engineering wizardry on our team, the defaults for zoomed-out views are much improved. Tables with less than 1000 features mapped will show lines and polygons for three additional zoom levels. In addition, many of Bjørn's remaining tables have been granted individual exceptions for visualizing within Fusion Tables; any re-use through merging will inherit this exception. Happy mapping!" 

You can download the data using the Google Fusion Tables API, and render the vectors in your own web mapping application. 

Examples of how to use Natural Earth in the cloud will follow in later blog posts. Stay tuned!