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#uksnow Twitter Animation – Google Earth 5

February 3rd, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

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

Google Earth 5.0, Twitter uksnow

#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:

#uksnow Tweet Timeline (40kB)

Download the kml file, and use the time slider at the top left of the screen to play it back.

Couple of new techy things to notice if you have the new Google Earth version.

  • I’ve used the KML gx:TimeSpan element in my Document level lookAt so that by default the time slider displays one hours worth of Tweets. Notice how GE flys back in time after the KML loads.
  • The icons expanding and contracting during playback is a built-in feature of the new version of GE.
  1. andrew
    February 4th, 2009 at 03:32 | #1

    Hey James,

    just recently picked up the google earth API and have been drooling at your work, while learning how to figure this out.

    keep up the good work!

  2. Gareth
    February 5th, 2009 at 23:28 | #2

    Hi James

    I wondered whether you could provide an insight into how you gathered the activity from twitter?



  3. James
    February 6th, 2009 at 18:42 | #3

    Gareth – I searched for #uksnow using the API

    It just returns the 100 most recent posts. so I run a script to automate the process. Using the oldest Tweet returned by one search as the max_id value for the next.

    The beauty of the uksnow activity is postcodes are included in the text. Normally, locations would have to be collected separately. Probably quickly hit the API limit and get my IP blocked in that case.

  4. February 18th, 2009 at 21:54 | #4

    This would be incredibly valuable if there is ever a pandemic. Can someone please set something up so people can tweet incidences of infection and have it mapped in GE?

  5. January 14th, 2010 at 15:28 | #5

    I loved this so much I’ve tried to replicate it on the web – http://uksnow.tombh.co.uk

    It’s not quite the same (yet!) but you can, at least, get a similar feel for the flow and movement. And it always displays the latest tweets each time you refresh the page.

  6. James
    January 14th, 2010 at 22:57 | #6

    Actually I already saw your map yesterday 🙂 – was checking out your code to see how you’d done it. Good stuff. Surprised you can pull out that level of performance from the JS Maps API.

  7. January 15th, 2010 at 22:45 | #7

    Yeah performance isn’t bad, though it does get sluggish when dealing with the 20,000+ tweets of the full archive. I’m thinking of different ways to program it to get squeeze a little more speed from it.

  8. December 11th, 2010 at 13:34 | #8

    My app’s still going this year, I’ve even added cloud satellite imagery now 🙂 I made a Youtube video for the recent deluge we’ve had http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6N8Yoouh8-k


  1. February 5th, 2009 at 14:43 | #1
  2. February 5th, 2009 at 19:11 | #2
  3. February 5th, 2009 at 21:13 | #3
  4. February 6th, 2009 at 11:11 | #4
  5. February 6th, 2009 at 20:00 | #5
  6. February 9th, 2009 at 20:01 | #6
  7. February 11th, 2009 at 21:23 | #7
  8. February 12th, 2009 at 08:43 | #8