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[Cross posted from Google Lat/Long Blog]

During the crisis in Egypt, third-party Geo developers helped the international community understand the situation and keep persons affected by the crisis safe through the use of innovative new tools. These same tools can be replicated by anyone in any crisis situation. In the developer examples below, three things jump out as particularly striking: How quickly these maps were built and put into action, some within hours of the first protests; how developers (many contributing independently) from all over the world worked together to get these maps up and running; and how geo-context has become extremely important for the international community in understanding and responding to any crisis, be it natural or man-made.

NY Times - Mapping the Protest in Cairo Day by Day

In this map, the New York Times has plotted the locations of the protests and clashes with police. There are also pictures, videos and contextual information provided in the icon info bubbles.

Al Jazeera - Mapping the Day of Wrath

This website features a video illustrating the geographic spread of the protests using fly-over animations in Google Earth. The same webpage includes maps with information about protests in Cairo and throughout Egypt.

Hypercities Egypt

Twitter’s real-time updates have become an invaluable tool for the Egyptian protest organizers, observers and citizens looking to stay safe. Hypercities Egypt used Google Maps to display geolocated tweets as they came streaming in. Also, view another Egypt Twitter map created by MiBazaar.

GeoEye Tahrir Square Imagery

The imagery above is of Tahrir Square on January 29, 2011 at around 10:30am local time from more than 400 miles above. This imagery is exclusively viewable in Google Earth (and the Earth API) using the historical imagery tool. The imagery highlights GeoEye's stunning ability to respond to world events and capture timely imagery.

Egypt Protests in Google My Maps by Storyful.com

During the crisis, many Geo developers and persons without a Geo developer background collaborated on Google My Maps to chronicle the events geographically as they unfolded, such as this one by Storyful. Using the My Maps tool, anyone with access to Google Maps could create a collaborative mash-up with custom icons, colored polygons, content rich info-bubbles and many other features. Once completed, the map can be shared globally through My Maps or embedded on a website. Access can also be restricted to a select group of people if need be. Learn more at http://maps.google.com/getmaps.

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How you can help: During a crisis situation, up-to-date maps are often crucial for organizing humanitarian aid and effective response. In many regions, however, accurate and local map data is sparse, out of date, or not available at all. You can add your geographic knowledge to Google Maps by contributing map edits in Google Map Maker, which is currently available in select countries and territories.

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At Google I/O last May we graduated Maps JavaScript API V3. Since then, we have been working hard to deliver regular new features and bug fixes. This post is just a quick recap of what happened in 2010.

We publish a comprehensive changelog of all updates made to the API. If you’d like to be notified when a new version is released and changelog updated, sign up to the V3 notify mailing list.

Here are some highlights of the Maps API for 2010:

  • FusionTablesLayer: display and query geodata stored in Fusion Tables. Many thousands of markers can be rendered this way.
  • Styled Maps: customize the visual display of your map, including changing the color scheme, and controlling the visibility of features and labels.
  • Elevation: access elevation data, including depths of the ocean floor.
  • Draggable Directions: users can now personalize routes provided by the Directions API.
  • Marker Animations: markers can be dropped onto the map and bounced on demand as well as the old favorites like raise when dragged, and bounce when dropped. These animations can be controlled via the Animation class.
  • StreetView and Custom StreetView: display panoramic 360° views from many roads around the world. Custom StreetView can be linked to Google-provided StreetView panoramas (e.g. to show interiors of buildings).
  • Custom Map Types: display your own map imagery or not.
  • Rectangles and Circles: decorate regions on the map.
  • Traffic and Bicycling Layers: display real-time traffic information and bicycle routes (where supported).
  • KML and GeoRSS Layers: render on-demand layers, providing scalable rendering of KML and GeoRSS.
  • Route Optimization: find the best route to cover a given set of stops, for example when planning a delivery.
  • Bada and BlackBerry 6 support: mobile device support now encompasses Bada and Blackberry 6 devices such as the Samsung Wave and Blackberry Torch.
  • StreetViewService: programmatically determine the availability of Street View data.
  • MaxZoomService: find the highest zoom level for satellite imagery at a particular location.

There are also a few new utility libraries for the V3 API:

  • MarkerClusterer V3 allows visual clustering of many markers. The latest version has improved performance and clustering accuracy.
  • InfoBubble provides a customizable CSS3 tabbed info window.
  • RichMarker allows you to put arbitrary HTML on a map and interact with it as if it were a marker.
  • RouteBoxer generates a set of LatLngBounds that are guaranteed to cover every point within a specified distance of a path.

Also check out our Maps API articles, which cover topics that suit the accomplished Maps JavaScript API developer. We’ve added a few articles recently:

Finally, we’d like to thank all the developers who use our API, post on the forums and file bug reports and feature requests. We’re excited for what lies ahead in 2011 and as always we are enthusiastic about enabling developers to deliver great mapping solutions.

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Many existing websites that use the Google Maps API also use Google AdSense to monetize their site. AdSense uses the content of pages to determine the best ads to show for that audience. However there is valuable additional context offered by the location of the map. When a map is centered on the Napa Valley for example, ads relating to wineries may be more relevant.

In response to this we are happy to bring AdSense for Maps to Maps API v3. The Maps Ad Unit overlays a set of AdSense ads on the map, in any of the supported formats. You can control where on the map the ads are placed, and the ads shown are based on the current map location. It is a simple way to monetize your maps with unintrusive and relevant advertising.

To use the Maps Ad Unit you must have an AdSense account that is enabled for AdSense for Content. If you do not have an AdSense account, you will need to sign up by filling in this form. Once you have received your AdSense publisher id, take a look at the documentation to see how to add the Maps Ad Unit to your Maps API application. As always if you have any questions or need help, we recommend posting to the Maps API v3 forum.

You may also notice that we’ve given the map type control and Google logo a refresh in this release. The new map type control is more compact and extensible, easier to use on touch screen devices, and consistent in look and feel with our other controls. We hope you like it!