Find your perfect home with Google Fusion Tables

My husband and I were recently in the market for a new home. We worked with a realtor for a few months, looking at several houses every weekend. As we checked out each house, we tracked our thoughts about it in a Google spreadsheet, which included columns for the address, our pros and cons, individual ratings and the combined rating of the house.

One day, while my husband and I were rating a recently viewed home, he came up with a brilliant idea to put all of our home data on a map. We realized that adding geographic information to our personal opinions would help us find trends, such as which neighborhoods we preferred. A light bulb went on over my head: Google Fusion Tables!

Fusion Tables is a data management web application that makes it easy to view tabular data on a Google Map. Columns with location data, such as addresses, points, lines, or polygons, are automatically interpreted and mapped. The map features can be styled according to the data in your table. It’s also simple to share the map visualization with others.

In just a few steps, we were able to convert our spreadsheet into a fusion table:

This was a great start, but what we really wanted was to quickly get a glimpse of this data on a map. All we had to do was select ‘Visualize > Map’ from the table menu and the data in the ‘Address’ column was geocoded (i.e. converted into latitude and longitude coordinates) and the markers were displayed on the map. Clicking on the markers showed additional information about the house pulled from our spreadsheet, including the pros, cons and ratings we inputted for each location.

Our house ratings viewed in Google Maps (after being converted into a Fusion Table).
Fusion Tables also allow you to style the features on the map according to data in a numerical column in the table. We had the perfect column to use for this purpose: the ‘Total Rating’ column!


In order to color code the map markers by their ‘Total Rating’ score, we customized the icons based on a range of scores, with red representing the lowest scores, yellow show mid-range scores and green showing the houses with the highest combined rating. After saving these new settings, the map markers were immediately styled:

Our new map made it much easier to see what locations we were most interested in (the house just south of Redwood City) and the neighborhoods of low interest (those that were closer to the bay or hills).

We shared the map with our realtor and she loved it. It helped her refine the selection of homes she showed us and in just a matter of weeks, I’m happy to say that my husband and I found the perfect house!

Posted by Kathryn Hurley, Developer Programs Engineer, Geo DevRel

via: GoogleLatlong

Google Maps: A new angle on the world with 45° imagery

I’m a window seat person. If given the choice on a plane, I will always take the window seat, and not just so other passengers need not climb over me while I sleep. It’s also because I love the views during take off and landing. Whether it’s flying out over Sydney Harbour, or coming in to land over the Houses of Parliament in London, the view from a plane is a unique perspective on the world below.
Starting today you can bring that perspective to your Maps API applications with the launch of 45° imagery in select cities around the world. 45° imagery offers a superior perspective of city skylines than an overhead view. Tall buildings stand out from those around them, and iconic landmarks such as St. Mark’s Square in Venice are instantly recognisable. In addition you can rotate the map to look at buildings from all four sides:

You can track the cities where 45° imagery is currently available on this map. When 45° imagery is available a submenu option is added to the Maps API Satellite button. Right now the overhead imagery remains the default view for these areas. However in three weeks time this will change to match Google Maps, and the 45° imagery will become the default Satellite view where available.

Relocation Based Services

No, the title for this column is not misspelled and you did not miss a new development in the field of GIS. The term reflects one of the reasons for this column and my own recent experiences in relocating and the role location-based services appeared to play.

Location based services are sometimes defined as based on the position of the user in space. My opinion is that location based services need not be limited to mobile devices. Logging in to my office network from some desk and finding that my computer automatically configured a printer near me is one of the less obvious examples of a location-based service although it is available in many office networks. The point here is that the field of application of location-based services might be much wider than mobile devices only.

So what about relocation? Relocation has settled in my mind lately, since my family and I are about to move from the Netherlands to California. In the process of relocating, at least two distinct locations and a route between them play a part. First of all I wanted some information on our destination and typed ‘go Redlands’ in my browser. Apart from a list of 53 sites with interesting information, I also got a great offer for a video camera system that can be used for surveillance purposes. Unfortunately I’m not a US resident yet nor am I logged on to a computer in the US meaning that the offer is not for me…

These Internet marketing campaigns clearly lack a location-based service and did not read Alex van Leeuwen’s article ‘Geo-targeting on IP Address’ in the July/August issue of GeoInformatics! But things are not as bad as they may seem. Part of relocation is to find a new place to live. Surfing the web taught me that realtors are clearly beginning to see the added value of GIS. Some time ago you were lucky to find a picture of the offered houses on the Internet. Nowadays, most real-estate web sites offer a map showing the location of the houses. Some even give additional information on the neighborhood, schools, demographics and such. To me these sites qualify as ‘offering a location-based service’. The nice thing about the Internet is that once you’ve followed one of these links you enter a new ‘world’ of information and more links to follow…

Beware not to get lost in cyberspace. But then again, being able to get lost is one of the key properties of a world, isn’t it? Fortunately the chance of my goods getting lost during the relocation is next to zero. I can actually track the relocation of my goods from my present to my future location. This means that even in the event that the container ship carrying my stuff across the ocean does sink, I will always know where they are. Isn’t that comforting?

Location-based services are not a thing of the future anymore and we do not have to wait for UMTS or other high-speed mobile networks and Global Positioning System (GPS) enabled devices. Geo-targeting can be seen as the GPS of the Internet. The nice thing about this is that your IP address is always known when connected to the Internet, and that is independent of your physical location on the earth. That means that Internet services that make use of geo-targeting will travel with you, wherever you go!

We have seen that even in a common thing as relocation one already can experience the benefits of location based services. All of these services were offered through the Internet. This leads me to conclude that the Internet, with its links, and references, is perhaps the largest location based service provider around. This column will be my own contribution to the expansion of location-based services.

Appeared in GeoInformatics Magazine ( in September 2001