Norway: 4000 Bus Stops that Tweet, Record Stories and Provide the Time of the Next Bus via QRCodes

Today sees the launch of our latest collaboration via the Tales of Things project – this time with a Norwegian transport company, Kolumbus. Tales of Things has been utilising Kolumbus’ already existing QR codes to allow passengers to leave stories for one another. When a passenger visits one of Kolumbus’ more than 4,000 bus stops they will find a QR code which when scanned with the free Tales of Things’ app on with the iPhone or Android it will not only link them to timetable information, but also allow them to leave a message on the bus stop.

Each stop contains a unique code, so the timetable information and tales are site specific. Through tales of things, passengers can leave messages about experiences they have had in the area, anecdotes about places they are going, leave a message for a loved one or maybe leave a treasure trail for your friends. In addition to this, each time a bus stop is scanned, it ‘tweets’ to the world that a new story, message or memory has been left.

In essence we think of this as a mix of Facebook and FourSquare for Bus Stops, where users leave behind stories, messages and memories while at the same time seeing when the next bus is.

The things can be geo-located through an on-line map of the world where participants can track their object even if they have passed it on. The object can also update previous owners on its progress through a live Twitter feed (which is unique to each object entered into the system).

Einar Hougen, project manager in Kolumbus, states: “When we learned about this exciting UK research project, we instantly recognized the parallels to our own QR tagging of bus stops, which we believe is the largest adaptation of QR codes of this kind in Norway to date. Scanning a QR code at a Kolumbus bus stop gives instant access to current departure times, right on your mobile phone.

In Kolumbus, we are happy to support this research project by sharing our QR mechanism and allowing all our bus stops to be accessible in the tales of things world of objects. Via our tech blog, , we know there are many tech savvy users among our travellers. This will give them the opportunity to join this project, -and hopefully have a bit of fun at the same time!”


Kolumbus is the public transport company for Rogaland county, Norway, serving the public with bus and high speed boat routes in the areas of Stavanger, Haugesund, the Fjords, Dalane and Jæren.

For more information on Kolumbus visit and of course you can tag your own objects, places, spaces or bus stops via Tales of Things.

Building Maker: 109 cities and counting

Today’s Google Building Maker imagery update is our last one for 2010 – you can now use our purpose-built geo-modeling tool in any of 109 cities around the world. We’ve just released imagery for:

  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Oslo, Norway
  • The Hague, The Netherlands
San Antonio, Texas is one of the newest additions to Building Maker.

We also greatly expanded the coverage areas for San Diego, California and Portland, Oregon. And in case you missed the update two weeks ago, we also released imagery for:

  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Tucson, Arizona
  • Norfolk, Virginia
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
Norfolk, Virginia is itchin’ to be modeled.

Still waiting for your city to be added to Building Maker? You can request it; in the meantime, try modeling in one of these new cities to help get them on the 3D map.

Changing World, Changing Maps

Today, we are excited to let you know that we have updated the base map data in all Google Maps products and services for ten countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa and Switzerland. This follows earlier improvements to our maps in the US and Canada, and will be rolling out over the course of the next day.

Somewhere near you, a new road is being constructed, an existing one is changing names, a new restaurant is opening, or a parking lot is making way for a park. With this update, you can help keep your neighborhood accurate across Google’s geo product suite. Notice that something has changed on your block recently, or that the directions provided could have been better? Report a problem, and we will make the change in Google Maps within a couple of months.

We have worked hard to improve the usefulness of the maps for our users, developers, and business partners. Improvements range from including more address data and building footprints so you find your destinations easily, to adding higher resolution topographic features and detailed university campuses to help you orient yourself faster in a new area. We have also augmented our maps with bike paths and walking trails, and will roll out biking directions soon. We hope our maps help you explore your world better.

Posted by Anup Mantri, Software Engineer