Best Google Maps Application Ever (UK)

Well, I had an idea for a Google Maps. I thought it would give me a great opportunity to get a key and play around with the Google Maps API. My idea was to integrate speed camera locations onto the maps for the UK. It would have allowed me to focus on learning the API, because I could use XML data from, say, the TomTom satelite navigation device.

However, in a quick Google I found an amazing site which had not only the speed cameras, but loads more infomration for the UK on. Google Maps, BBC Travel, Local News, Flickr, Weather and more... - is a prototype, built primarily for BBC Backstage and demonstrates the layering of a lot of live information data onto Google Maps.

The main use of this application, for myself, would be the speed camera information, but that's only just for fun. However, there are other cool features which are very nicely integrated, except for the fact that you have to manually update the infomration.

You can view Flickr images for areas, however, the usually aren't too many, as the images themselves have to be tagged with geographical information, which not many people can be bothered with. The Flickr image integration is similar to that on Mappr, but, again, it suffers from the lack of geographical meta descriptions on the majority of images in the Flickr database. Hopefully, in a couple of years, digital cameras will have GPS built in, and store the exact position of the photograph automatically. There are already cameras with built in WiFi to allow the upload of images wirelessly, GPS is simply the next step.

Another cool feature is the London web cams. Although these are limited to central London, it's pretty cool to see fairly up to date webcam photos of the streets of London. I'm sure this would be expanded to the rest of the UK, hell, even the World.

Weather has limited integration, and you have to zoom out to find the nearest city with associated information from Weather.com. But again, it's well done with a seven-day forcast on the right hand side. The actual pinpoint on the mapfeatures the Weather Channels's logo, and could be replaced with the current hour forcast.

Local websites is an interesting addition to the map. Limited to the zoomed area, there is a list of "local" websites provided by GeoURL.org, and also the pinpoint features the link. Not sure how useful this feature is, as the web is pretty unlocalised!

The BBC travel news information is pretty useful. Showing information about accidents (and their severity) and train/plane information. However, it seems to be a little out of date... "Jun 30 11:08am". Local news headlines are interesting. However, for Birmingham (UK) I get a story about "SAN FRANCISCO (AFX)"... oops.

This is one amazing application, unfortunately it's not currently being maintained. It would be great if this guy released the information he's already gathered to pull this off, to allow others to tweak, improve and add even more features. Like I said in the title, this is the "Best Google Maps Application Ever" (at least for the UK, if not the world!).