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It’s Fab Friday again! This week, we’ve got another Google Maps API Developer Relations screencast. This week, Andres Ferrate discusses the Google Places API Events feature:

In other video news, Tuesday during Maps API Office Hours, I had a conversation with Paul Rademacher, author of the first Google Maps API site, HousingMaps about the origins of the API, and his latest project, Stratocam, which lets users view and share beautiful satellite and aerial imagery. If you want to watch or join future office hours events, follow our Google+ page.

In upcoming events, I will be at in Amsterdam on Saturday the 28th. By the time you read this, I may already be there! Andres will be at the Oregon Central Coast Web-Mapping and Geo-Enabled Tools Meeting May 16th and Brendan Kenny will be at TXJS June 14th. And of course the whole team will be at Google I/O at the end of June.

Posted by Mano Marks, Maps Developer Relations Team

Map of the Week: The Civic Crowd
Why we like it: A unique way of using Google Maps to initiate positive community action, this map is a great way to discover, share, propose, and appreciate citizen powered change.

The Civic Crowd uses Google Maps to organize a wide range of civic projects and make them easy to discover or create. The special aspect of The Civic Crowd is that it gives the user a variety of ways to interact with projects of interests. Rather than just offering a binary exchange, finding or adding projects, there are five steps a user can take: 1. Share, 2. Discuss, 3. Offer, 4. Appreciate, 5. Propose, or 6. Volunteer. In essence, this is creates a social change marketplace that breaks down barriers to engagement.

By using a map to organize citizen action, The Civic Crowd helps people become more aware and connected to action needed in their communities. If you have an idea or a project that you would like to people to get involved with or simply would like start a discussion about, the submission flow is easy and well designed. After logging in, users just need to answer a few questions and geotag their idea.

While The Civic Crowd is mainly available in the U.K. at the moment, this site has the potential to be used globally.

As part of the changes shared on the Google Developers Blog today, the Google Maps APIs are transitioning to a 1 year deprecation policy, which has been revised to be clearer and shorter. Any Maps API that is deprecated between April 20th 2012 and April 20th 2014 will be subject to a deprecation period that extends until April 20th 2015. Any Maps API that is deprecated after April 20th 2014 will be subject to a deprecation period that extends for 1 year from the date of deprecation.

While updating the Google Maps/Google Earth API Terms of Service to reflect this change we are taking the opportunity to also make a small number of additional updates. We are clarifying some points based on feedback from developers and also strengthening our privacy requirements. The key changes are:
  • There are certain Maps API Services, such as Places and Street View, which you are permitted to use without a Google Map. This update clarifies that if you do choose to use a map with these services it must be a Google Map.
  • This update clarifies that business, residential address, or telephone directory listings services may continue to use the Maps API, but may not use business listings content provided by the Maps API or the Places API.
  • This update clarifies that you are not permitted to use or provide any content provided by the Maps API in an API that you offer to others, even if your implementation provides substantial additional features or content.
  • This update adds additional terms to protect the privacy of geolocation data and requires that you obtain the consent of your users to geolocate their position and notify them of how that information will be used.
If you have any questions or concerns about these changes please consult the Maps API forums.

Map of the Week: Map of the Dead
Why we like it: This map is a highly creative and innovative use of the Google Places API and Styled Maps. Also invaluable tool for a “zombie apocalypse.”

When the impending zombie apocalypse is upon us the first thing you need to do is find shelter and supplies. Naturally, your first choice should be the Anti-Zombie Fortress. Unfortunately, Google does not have one on campus and my facilities requests have gone unanswered. Therefore, if you’re like me you’ll just have to make do with something else. Luckily for the rest us of there’s Map of the Dead.

Map of the Dead is designed to help the living survive the zombie apocalypse by locating the nearest points of interest that are relevant to survival and identify the danger areas. The first thing you need to do to use this invaluable tool is to enter your address. The site uses HTML5 Geolocation to tell where you are, but if you need enter an address manually the Google Places Autocomplete API ensures that an address can be quickly populated automatically, saving precious seconds.

Danger areas are identified on the map using the Styled Maps. Red areas denote where zombies are most likely to roam, while dark areas are typically less populated and therefore less likely to have feeding zombies. After finding shelter, the next most important aspect to surviving the zombie apocalypse is having the right supplies. Using the Google Places API, Map of the Dead displays the most relevant points of interests nearby; such as hospitals, outdoor supply stores, and police stations.

We hope this map has helped you understand how your neighborhood would fare in such a event. Thanks to the developers from Doejo for making this our map of the week!

Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog.

In April 2010, 89 million U.S. households returned a census form in which they answered ten basic questions. Once collected, aggregated, and published, the 2010 U.S. census provided rich insights into the makeup and distribution of the U.S. population. However the resulting demographics, which cover all 50 states, over 3,000 counties, over 70,000 census tracts, and over 200,000 block groups, are extremely challenging to obtain and visualize on a map.

Today we are making U.S. demographics visualization accessible and easy for our Google Maps API for Business customers with the launch of the new Demographics Layer in Maps API v3. The Demographics Layer enables Google Maps API for Business developers to add visualization of U.S. demographics provided by Nielsen to their Maps API applications.

Developers can select from 34 statistics to display on the map at state, county, census tract or block group granularity, including:
  • population
  • age
  • race
  • marital status
  • housing status
Data is available for 2010 and 2011, in addition to projected data for 2015 and 2016.

Google Maps API for Business applications using the Demographics Layer can control how the data is styled, such as defining color thresholds or gradients, and also define style rules based on expressions across statistics that are evaluated in real time. For example, by defining a gradient style based on the expression “population / area” you can visualize population density on the map.

The Demographics Layer is now available to all Google Maps API for Business customers for use in internal applications. For more information on how to add the Demographics Layer to your applications please see the documentation. If you are not an existing Google Maps API for Business customer and are interested in using the Demographics Layer, please contact the sales team by filling in this form.

We hope the Demographics Layer provides your business with the intelligence you need to put your own data into context, and empowers you to make smarter business decisions going forward.

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It’s been a few weeks since I wrote a Fab Friday post, so I thought I’d do a round-up of some of what’s happened around here the past few weeks and what’s going on in the next few weeks.

Last week was O’Reilly’s Where Conference, a big event for the geospatial industry. Formerly called Where 2.0, this year they dropped the 2.0 moniker, so O’Reilly was just Where it’s at. OK, enough of the bad puns. Google had a big presence there, as you can see from the line-up of Google sessions, we delivered a lot of content. We’ll release some of the slides and demos in the near future, nothing to announce on that front yet. But take a look at the Mercedes-Benz we had in the booth!

Next week, Brendan Kenny and Josh Livni are going to be at EcoHack in NYC to help hack away on great projects that are helping the planet. In particular, they’ll be helping out anyone wanting to use Google Maps in their projects.

I’ll be at WhereCamp EU April 28th and 29th in Amsterdam. I haven’t been to Amsterdam since I was 13, which was a loooong time ago. So I’m looking forward to it. If you’re anywhere near Amsterdam, check out the conference, it should be a lot of fun.

Now on to context. I stumbled on this fun little open source library for adding context menus to a Google Maps API application. Here’s a sample of what that looks like:

Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog.

Every day people rely on maps to help them make purchasing decisions. Location matters for everything from choosing a restaurant for dinner, to picking the perfect home. It’s important to understand how users view and interact with this information so you can create a map experience tailored specifically to your customers’ needs. Today we make this possible with the release of Analytics for Google Maps API for Business:

Just as Google Analytics shows you how visitors interact with your website, Analytics for Google Maps API for Business provides detailed information on how customers interact with maps on your website. Do customers have to pan and zoom to find what they need? How often is 45 degree imagery used? Should you consider using a different map type? Now this information is at your fingertips.

Analytics for Google Maps API for Business delivers reports for map interactions, services, the Places, and Street View. Make changes to your map and immediately see how these enhance user behavior, allowing you to quickly customize your map to the needs of your customers.

Analytics for Google Maps is a feature included with your license of Google Maps API for Business. You can enable Analytics for Google Maps API for Business for your maps with the click of a button in the Google Enterprise Support Portal. All information recorded is anonymized and aggregated to protect the privacy of users.

For more information on how to enable and access Analytics for Maps API for Business, please see the Maps API for Business Developer Guide. If you need further assistance, or have ideas for additional features you would love to see in Analytics for Maps API for Business, please contact the Google Enterprise Support team.

Map of the Week: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG with Google Maps API
Why we like it: This Google Maps API implementation really speaks to the versatility of the API and breadth of the Google Maps API developer ecosystem! From small personal projects to exciting start-ups and high-performance cars, the Google Maps API can be used by everyone.

As you would expect, this top of the line Mercedes-Benz is loaded with all the bells and whistles. The vehicle’s integrated navigation system will be enhanced in certain regions by a fully functional JavaScript Maps API v3 implementation using Styled Maps, Google Places API, Places Autocomplete API, traffic layer, and the Panoramio layer as an Android App for the AMG Performance Media option. This provides the user with a familiar Google Maps interface in addition to the onboard maps from the navigation system.

(Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Gullwing Coupe at the O’Reilly Where Conference - April 2012)

For night time driving the SLS AMG takes advantage of Styled Maps to create a map that’s easier to view in low-light situations and does not impede a driver’s night vision.

Chances are, if you’re driving this around all day, you’re going to get very hungry. That’s where the Places API integration with Places Autocomplete API comes in handy. Drivers can enter in what they’re looking for it, be it Thai food or pizza and the vehicle will return a list of nearby places along with address, distance, and rating.

Once the Places API has helped you decide what to eat and where you need to go, you can view the destination in Google Street View. In the image below, the system is displaying Street View imagery directly in front of the hotel in San Francisco where the vehicle was located for the 2012 O’Reilly Where Conference. From there you can enter directions that are displayed on a Google Map along with the option to display current traffic.

The engineers at Daimler have done an amazing job of taking Google Maps and combining it with one of the most-loved automobiles. There are many different types of developers in the Google Maps API ecosystem and great implementations like this remind us that the possibilities are almost endless!

Please note that the weather layer is no longer available in the Google Maps JavaScript API. For more information, see the blog post on sunsetting the Weather and Panoramio libraries.

For the past month, I have been lucky enough to work as an intern on the Google Maps API team in Sydney. I’ve had a great time so far, and I’m looking forward to my remaining two months. For now, I’d like to share with you the fruits of my first project, which was to bring the weather layer from Google Maps to the Maps API.

The weather layer was launched on Google Maps in August 2011, with cloud imagery from the U.S. Naval Research Lab and weather forecast information from Since then, access to the weather layer in the Maps API has been a feature frequently requested by developers.

The weather layer is now provided in the Maps API by the weather library, which consists of two classes: WeatherLayer and CloudLayer. The WeatherLayer class displays the current weather conditions at various locations, as well as a forecast for the next four days when a user clicks on one of the icons. You can configure the units of temperature (degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit) and wind speed (km/h, mph, or m/s), just like The CloudLayer class displays satellite imagery of cloud coverage. Try out the demo below.

Check out the documentation for more information. If you need any extra assistance or information, we recommend you post your questions to Stack Overflow using the google-maps-api-3 tag.

We hope you find the weather layers useful, and we look forward to seeing them used in applications around the web. I had a fantastic time implementing them, and learned a lot - many thanks to my colleagues in the Maps API team for all their help and support!