Google Maps: Custom Satellite View

Cartagen Warping Tool

The Google Maps API v3 has a great feature that lets you take and add your own Custom Street Views to Google Maps. Unfortunately it doesn’t have a similar feature to add your own aerial imagery.

Step forward then Cartagen Warping Tool.

This tool allows you to upload your own aerial imagery and place it on top of Google Maps. The application includes tools that allow you to rotate and scale your images to fit the underlying map tiles.

In the unlikely event that you can’t afford your own satellite you could always try and create aerial imagery with a kite or a remote controlled helicopter.

OK, the Google Maps API v3 actually does have a feature that allows you to add your own aerial imagery. You can use the Ground Overlay feature to place imagery on top of Google Maps. Using Ground Overlays though does mean that you will need to rotate and scale your own images.

Bing Maps and the Open Map Community Connections

Recap – Automatic Road Detection

Before looking at the new front door application, a bit of history might be helpful about the recent direction that Microsoft’s mapping utilities have been taken. You may be aware that, a few months ago, Microsoft released an application that could be used to automatically detect roads from an aerial imagery photograph. The images below show an example output from the service when processing an imagery tile of part of the city of Norwich:


One interesting aspect of the service (remember this service is created and hosted by Microsoft, on their azure platform) is that the resulting points were provided in osmchangeformat – and could be used directly to import road data into Open Street Map. This would potentially allow OSM to create and mass import vector road data in previously unmapped areas automatically and easily, without the manual process of a user tracing the road path by hand.

The Front Door Application

The new front door application, which you can access at a similar model of utilising Bing Maps aerial imagery to potentially benefit the open map community…. how?

Anybody who accesses the site is presented with a random aerial image of a location, and is invited to drag a single pushpin onto the front-door of the nearest house. Here’s the image I was presented with when I went to the site just now:

For this one, I’m going to say that the front door of the house is most likely to be just to the left of the driveway, so I dragged the pushpin to about here:

The new location is submitted, and you get shown a new image. What’s the point? Well, if enough people separately agree on the same location for the front door of this house, the new location is used to update local search results in Bing Maps as well as contributing address data to Open Street Maps – crowd-sourced, frontdoor geocoding of properties…

It’s great to see Microsoft continuing to make use of the Open Database Licence and contributing their imagery for use for the benefit of Open Street Maps again (Bing Maps aerial imagery is also available within the PotLatch OSM editor to enable people to trace the location of features and the outlines of building etc.), as well as thinking up innovative uses of the aerial imagery they have available… I wonder what app they might come up with next?

Microsoft and OpenStreetMap: Magicshop Frontdoor — Improved Address Locations

A few months ago an experimental service to automatically find roads and other features in aerial imagery was launched. Today we’re adding to that a service to help improve local search results.

The frontdoor app allows anyone on the web to help improve our address location results. The site allows you to drag a pin from where we think an address currently is to the front door of the property.

It works on a similar concept to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.  Only here the output is freely available OpenStreetMap address data. I’ve been working through Magicshop Frontdoor quite a bit this week so I know this is easy enough. Can’t be that many addresses in the USA, can there?  The great thing about helping Microsoft here over lets say Google is that your efforts are helping the community at large.  I wish other mapping companies would embrace this concept as Microsoft has.

Just drag that pushpin to the front door and your done.