The data for these network maps is stored and maintained in a Geographic Information System (GIS). These systems have been around a lot longer than Google Maps, for 30 years or so, and tend to be powerful but complex to use. We have focused on working with data from GE Smallworld for utility GIS, but can also work with data from ESRI and others. We render the network data from the GIS to raster map tiles to create an image map overlay that is displayed on top of the Google Maps basemap. The advantage of this approach versus using a vector data format is that it is much easier to match the cartographic design of the network maps used in the GIS, and the users expect consistency between the systems.
All features on the map need to be clickable so that users can display information about any of the network items such as cables, poles, transformers, etc. To handle this we just define a click event that queries a server to find items close to that point. We use a system called Arc2Earth Cloud, which stores spatial data in Google App Engine.
One cool feature of our application is its tight integration with Google Street View. You can click on an object on the map, such as a pole or a building, and see a Street View of that object. This gives the user additional information that they can’t get from their existing GIS database. We calculate the right bearing for the Street View automatically, and this works surprisingly well, given the potential for mismatches between the Street View and GIS location data. When necessary, the user can adjust and save the view, over-riding the automatic view. We can display markers in the Street View and click on them to display attributes of poles or other characteristics – this is a great feature of the V3 API.
Last year we introduced Smart Navigation to Street View, which allowed you to jump to a new panorama just by double-clicking on a place or object. Now you can quickly navigate to those images with just a single click.
For those of you who haven’t used this click-to-go feature before, notice that as you move your mouse around in a street view panorama, a disk or rectangle follows the cursor (what we call the “pancake”). This pancake not only makes the panorama feel three-dimensional, but shows you where you can jump to a new panorama to get a different view. For instance, let’s say you’re checking out the town of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico because you read about the large community of artists and writers living there. You can get a closer look at the Parish of San Miguel by clicking on the pancake and navigating around the church.
A few more clicks will take you through the colorful neighboring streets. Through your virtual exploration, you can see a restaurant in the distance behind the below rectangular pancake:
With a single click on the pancake, you’re transported right in front of that location and the pancake reappears – this time with a magnifying glass. This means you can zoom in to get an even closer view:
To read the menu at “El Infierno” and see what kind of food they may have, the single click to zoom also applies here. We’ve also made it easier to zoom out. Once you’ve zoomed in all the way, the magnifying glass changes from a plus sign to a minus sign, signifying that the next click will zoom all the way out.
QUE VIVA single click navigation!
Posted by Daniel Filip, Senior Staff Engineer
A few weeks ago, amid a good bit of controversy, Google finally released Street View in Germany. It was a well-publicized release, largely due to the thousands of blurred houses, but it only covered tiny sections of a few cities. Now that has changed.
While it’s still not the solid coverage like we see in the US or the UK, the coverage has just been expanded quite a bit, now covering 20 cities in Germany.
[UPDATE: The official post from Google is up.]
I haven’t seen an official list of updated cities yet, but it seems to include Bielefeld, Berlin, Bonn, Bremen, Dusseldorf, Dresden. Hamburg, Hannover, Koln (Cologne), Leipzig, Mannheim, Munchen (Munich), Nurnberg, Stuttgart and Wuppertal.
If you’re not familiar with using Street View in Google Earth, check out this great tutorial that Frank created last year.
Have you noticed new Street View imagery in any other cities/countries? Leave a comment and let us know!
Google’s limited coverage of Germany in Street View, which rolled out earlier this month in a few public areas and a single village, has now expanded to 20 cities; Google Earth Blog has a list.
Previously: Street View’s Limited Rollout in Germany.
German Street View Coverage Expands first appeared on The Map Room: A Weblog About Maps on November 18, 2010. Copyright