Map Mashups for Better Visualization of Location-Based Trends Faculty Project Description Introduction



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Map Mashups for Better Visualization of Location-Based Trends

Faculty Project Description

Introduction

Maps and map mashups where you display relevant location-based information on a map in new and interesting ways are at heart of this project. When you describe statistical data (such as population levels or poverty rates) by displaying graphically on a map, rather than by providing a basic list or table, it will bring the data to life. Google maps API enables you to create applications that combine the mapping information with your own set of data and relevant statistical data so that you can have an effective custom view of information. The societal impact of embedding this visual location-based information in web sites will be on promoting awareness, better understanding of data, and discovery of relevant local and global supporting organizations.



Instructors can present the problem which is how to embed a map or create an embedded map mashup in a web page using Google technology. The background lecture slides should give you a good starting point where map mashup example web pages should motivate students and provide a visual picture of typical applications with societal benefits. Google maps API and Google Visualization API as powerful programming interfaces provide the required technologies for a variety of interesting and flexible solutions. You start the students in the first phase with minimal programming via using a Google wizard. In the second phase, the students run four introductory object-oriented programs based on Google Maps API. These prewritten basic examples together with background slides should provide necessary familiarity to object-oriented programming (OOP) style and terminology for the rest of this project. In the third phase, they are gently introduced to the Google Maps JavaScript API through modifying the existing code for an embedded map in their web pages. Finally, students use a map-specific Google visualization API, Geomap, where they can map statistical data (on poverty rates) to associated geographical regions creating an embedded map mashup. In this last phase, they gain high-level abstraction (Visualization API) and its ease-of-use in exchange for design flexibility (being limited to methods exposed by Geomap). Before getting into details of the hands-on project, you need to ensure that students have the required tools.

Required tools: Each student needs to have a Google account, internet access, access to a public web server and a text editor, and sign on for a Google Maps API Key.

Google account: Go to maps.google.com and click on sign in tab on the right top corner. It will take you to another screen where you can create a new Google account.

Publicly accessible web server: Each student or a pair of students in a team must have access to a web server. This web server is used for testing their web pages for this project. If your school does not support publicly accessible web pages for students, each student could create a personalized web page on igoogle, www.google.com/ig. Their Google accounts should work for this purpose.

Google Maps API Key: Go to http://code.google.com/apis/maps/documentation/. Click on the left top link on this page (sign up for an API key). Follow the instructions on the sign-up page for a map key. The map key is linked to your Google account, and is used to authenticate you as a valid user of the Map API services. You only need a single Maps API key for a single “Directory” or domain.

Note: Web sites for this project must be publicly accessible. Otherwise, Google Maps API key will not work.

Phase 1

In this phase, students first use the Google wizard (http://www.google.com/uds/solutions/wizards/mapsearch.html) generating code for a searchable map control. The code must be placed before the end of body tag (


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