Thursday, January 27, 2011

Maps Projects

Because I have been promoting the XO Map Activity and, I thought it'd be good to write about a couple of other map projects.

I'm running a course on Online Maps with OpenLayers. The idea behind OpenLayers is that you have many sources of maps, such as ESRI, Google, and Ushahidi, and you want one open system to combine them. That makes it a good fit for Mozilla's School of Webcraft: a new initiative for techies to teach the open web and publish helpful guides for self-learners. Out of the 20 Webcraft courses, this one stands out as one about goals and projects rather than code.

Why am I doing this? Well, maps were the first webpages I wrote on my own. It lets you make something visual and powerful even if you're just a newbie. We'll get some cool projects and true believers out of this course, I'm sure of it.

I'm also making maps for RAIN, an environmental group keeping tabs on everything water-related (except rain, ironically). The maps get used by the state's environmental protection office and the city of Pittsburgh. The map itself isn't that special, but it turns their numbers into a live picture of the environment. When I worked on a water research project, it was clear that we need more of these, to take good public data and match it with good visuals. Plus, there's something futuristic about seeing this from hundreds of miles away:

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