Looking for an apartment to rent or wondering what the latest global health crisis is? Look no further than Google Maps. Many professional and part-time map addicts have created useful Google Maps mashups that show you (in real time, or at least in near-real time) the latest information for a variety of subjects, including the latest happenings on Twitter, news from the Associated Press, and even the most recently reported UFO sightings. Check out these ten Google Maps mashups to be in the know before anybody else.
Project Name: WikipediaVision
Details: Ever wonder how often Wikipedia gets updated by anonymous editors? WikipediaVision shows you in near-real time the latest edits to Wikipedia by anonymous users. You can find out where the editor is located, which article was updated, and even what the change was. The updates on this map move fast, so click on the "English" link at the bottom of the map to see a list of the most recent edits in one place.
Project Name: HousingMaps.com
Details: One of the hassles of looking for a new place to live is that you may find a great-looking place on Craigslist but have no idea where in the city that dream flat is. That's where HousingMaps comes in. Just pick your city and price range from the drop-down menu, decide if you want to look for housing to rent, buy, share, or sublet, and this site will filter the most recent Craigslist entries for you. You can also add filters for entries that allow pets, have pictures, or have any keyword you want, such as laundry, bus, or amenities.
Project Name: Train Map
Details: It may be in German, but this is one of the coolest real-time mashups yet. This map shows you where all the trains run by Swiss Federal Railways are in real time. You can even watch the trains as they move across the map into and out of stations across the country. If you're planning a trip to Switzerland any time soon, check out this map.
Image: PhotoChart user Rhyfall
Project Name: Map My Followers/Following
Details: These two mashups let you see the locations of the people who follow you on Twitter (Followers) or the people that you follow (Following). Each pin represents only one person, but the further you zoom in to a location on the map, the more followers/following you see. Both mashups limit you to seeing 100 people at a time and include the latest data from your Twitter follower/following count.
Views of the News
Project Name: AP News + Google Maps
Details: This visualization shows the latest AP News stories by location. You can see where things are happening in the country by clicking on the National News section, or you can see where the latest news is happening in sports, business, and technology. You can also click on all sections to see all the latest headlines on one map. No international headlines, unfortunately.
Project Name: UFOStalker.com
Details: If you want to keep up-to-date on the latest UFO sightings, then this is the Google Maps mashup for you. The site pulls in the latest UFO sightings reported from the site feed of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), a nonprofit organization that investigates cases of UFO sightings. Click on any reported event to find out all the creepy details (photos included).
Project Name: HealthMap
Details: Hypochondriacs, look away. This map will show you all the latest news on global pandemics and infectious disease outbreaks. HealthMap pulls in the latest data from seven news sources: the World Health Organization, Google News, ProMED Mail, GeoSentinel, EuroSurveillance, Moreover, and the Wildlife Disease Information Node. HealthMap's aim is "to achieve a unified and comprehensive view of the current global state of infectious diseases and their effect on human and animal health."
Project Name: Where's the Bus?
Details: The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation supply a real-time feed of MBTA buses throughout the Boston area. This mashup by software developer Joe Shaw plots the location of buses in real time based on the public feed. To find out where the buses are, select a route from the site's drop-down menu.
Project Name: Trendsmap
Details: Twitter keeps a running list of trending topics for various countries around the world as well as trending topics by city. With Trendsmap, you can see what people are talking about on Twitter right now anywhere in the world, or even let Trendsmap locate your computer to find trends near you. Clicking on a Twitter trend shows you the latest tweets on that subject.
Ships in the Water
Project Name: Live Ships Map
Details: This map collects recent data about many large passenger, cargo, and pleasure boats in the waters around the world. All large ships traveling in open water are required to have a transponder that relays the ship's name, position, speed, and course, as well as other statistical information about the vessel. The information on this map is part of an open-source project run by the University of the Aegean in Greece. Check out this FAQ to learn more.