Here’s a browser based version of the (Feb 2009) UK Snowstorm Twitter activity, animated inside the Google Earth Plugin.
This mashes up 3800 Tweets over the course of a week. Users posting their location and the amount of snowfall they were seeing on a scale of 0 to 10. You can see how Twittersphere activity peaks on Monday February 2nd, the day the country ground to a halt. With sporadic outbursts every day over the following week.
A much more significant event than the release of Google Earth 5.0 yesterday was the fact the much of Britain (particularly S. England) was covered by a sprinkling of snow. 😉
As a knock-on of this there’s been a large amount of media buzz about the use of Twitter as a mob-sourced geo-mashup generator to show snowfall.
Twitter users have been posting the first half of their postcode, plus the amount of snow in their location. 0 = no snow, 10 = bucket loads. ie: “#uksnow W12 9/10”
Developers have been mashing-up that data. Check out Ben Marsh’s neat, live Google Map mashup of this: #uksnow Tweets
#uksnow Twitter Animation, Google Earth 5
Now that the flurry (sorry) of activity has died down, I’ve trawled the Twitter API for the past few days of #uksnow hash tags (2200 so far) and put them into a KML time animation tailored to run in Google Earth 5:
Since I put together the Google Earth animated flights from USA airports (more of those coming up soon!), I’ve been meaning to check out the same thing without the time element – a KML file where routes only display as you hover the mouse over various airports. Essentially a Google Earth, 3D equivalent of those interactive flight maps you see on airlines’ websites.
As a side effect it does create some navigation difficulties, but I still think it makes a lot of sense to de-clutter the screen, without forcing the user through a series of menus or pop-ups. More importantly, the effect is actually fairly straightforward to achieve using KML’s <StyleMap> entity. (Check this out for a good description of how it works.)
So, what I’ve done is applied mouseover effects to a (near) complete route map of scheduled flights within the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. That’s about 800 one-way routes, between 69 airports. Download the file here:
The Placemark balloons include information about airlines and destinations.
Labels follow Wikipedia’s convention of using place names rather than real airport names.
Routes are displayed with exaggerated altitude. Still need to do a bit of work to get the balance of these right: check out some of the hair raising journeys between the Orkney Islands (NE Scotland). 🙂
One downside of GE’s highlight mode is it doesn’t stay switched on a after a mouse click. However, there are a few navigation tricks that allow you to keep routes displayed and move around …
Click the middle mouse button on an airport icon, and hold it down while moving the the mouse.
Hover the mouse pointer over an icon, then switch to keyboard control (cursor keys, shift + cursor keys, Page up/down, + key, – key, etc…).
Click on an airport icon, quickly drag it and let go. Just as you would to set the Earth rotating.
The source data for all this is scraped from the Airport pages on Wikipedia, and compiled using a lot of Perl scripting to scrape, mash and meld it into KML. Obviously its never going to be 100% reliable, but at least it should be pretty easy to keep the file regularly updated, and expand to other parts of the world.