July 04, 2005
Announcing Yahoo! Maps API
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on GIScafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each GIS Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the GIS industry, GIS product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by GISCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! Developers can now create customized maps by overlaying a variety of content onto an existing Yahoo! Map including weather reports, school district boundaries, open houses, garage sales, vacation photos, and more with the Yahoo! Maps API. Also two new announcements from competitors Microsoft and Google: an agreement with ORBIMAGE will add expanded international satellite coverage to Microsoft's MSN Virtual Earth, while Google's Google Earth was launched this week. Read about these announcements in this week's Industry News.

GISWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Appointments, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.

GISWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me at

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Announcing Yahoo! Maps API

By Susan Smith

Paul Levine, general manager of Yahoo! Local spoke to me about this week's announcement of Yahoo! Maps API, an extension of the Yahoo! Search API (

The press release announced that Yahoo! Maps API gives developers of all levels free public access to Yahoo!'s SmartView Technology - enabling them to see their own geographical data on Yahoo! Maps. Developers can now create customized maps by overlaying a variety of content onto an existing Yahoo! Map including weather reports, school district boundaries, open houses, garage sales, vacation photos, and more.

“We announced this week is developer APIs for maps which is about spurring participation from the developer community. We have a fully supported, documented, free map API that allows unlimited access to any developer in the U.S.,” said Levine. “It allows developers to use Yahoo's mapping platform and mapping service and plot points and enrich content around those maps.”

According to Levine, what sets Yahoo! Maps API apart from other efforts includes the following:

1) The use of open standards - the existing RSS standards and the GeoRSS standard that was pioneered by the W3C Consortium
2) There is no requirement to submit lat long information. You can submit it but don't need to. Yahoo does do the geocoding if you submit street addresses

3) The system is designed for developers to leverage the Yahoo infrastructure. Yahoo is basically hosting the maps and encouraging users to point to their maps.

Some examples can be found here:

Bay Area Traffic Cams

Traffic CAM, it demonstrates a live example of how traffic is traveling in a given location. This may be useful to ambulance drivers or police when responding to an emergency call.

A tribute to Sideways (the movie)

Yahoo! Maps API is part of a larger strategy for Yahoo!, said Levine. “We are really building in our local services an architecture of participation that encourages consumers, merchants, and developers to participate in the building out of the product. We've done a number of things such as encouraging users to submit content in the form of rating reviews. We announced a service back in April where merchants can come and every merchant in the U.S. can have access to building a free website which helps them build their business and awareness and also gives us great content to integrate into our local search experience.”

Levine summed up Yahoo!'s direction this way: “The overall spirit is similar to other recent announcements from other companies, in that there is so much innovation that can be done surrounding content and mapping or local services. We want to open our system to encourage other developers to innovate and show us new services.”

New Earth Products to Incorporate New Satellite Views

Both Google and Microsoft have been in the news a lot lately with their respective “Earth” products. I've copied in part a selection from each of this week's “Earth” announcements below, with a commentary following them:

Google Inc. announced the launch of Google Earth, Google's new satellite imagery-based mapping product that combines 3D buildings and terrain with mapping capability and Google search. Based on Keyhole technology, Google Earth enables users to fly from space to street level views to find geographic information and explore places around the world.
Key features of Google Earth include-
- Free software download available at

- 3D buildings in major cities across the United States

- 3D terrain showing mountains, valleys, and canyons around the world

- integrated Google Local search to find local information such as hotels, restaurants, schools, parks and transportation.

- Fast navigation

- Video playback of driving directions

- Tilt, rotate, and activate 3D terrain and buildings for a different perspective on a location

- Easy creation and sharing of annotations among users.
GISWeekly has covered the
underlying technology of Google Maps and
what makes Google Maps so speedy and responsive. We look forward to reporting more on the addition of Google Earth to this powerful technology offering.

Microsoft and
ORBIMAGE announced plans to deliver expanded international satellite coverage for MSN Virtual Earth (written about
here, a key component of MSN Search.

Under the terms of the 5-year agreement, Microsoft and ORBIMAGE will enable access to satellite images to give customers current, high-resolution imagery for nearly any place in the world. ORBIMAGE collects data from several satellites, including one that orbits the earth every 94 minutes.

Under the terms of the 5-year agreement, ORBIMAGE will allow Microsoft to incorporate ORBIMAGE's global library of satellite images into MSN Virtual Earth. Microsoft will also have an exclusive source of updated imagery that ORBIMAGE will continue to produce with its OrbView-2 and OrbView-3 satellites as well as new satellites it plans to place into service in the next 18-24 months. The OrbView-3 satellite, the newest high-resolution commercial imaging satellite in operation today, can collect up to 210,000 square kilometers a day of panchromatic (black and white) imagery at one-meter resolution, and color imagery at four-meter resolution of virtually any area on earth.


Although most of these companies claim to not know what the competition is doing, they each have already earmarked a profound change in the way data is developed, exchanged, received and viewed. The availability of large amounts of geospatial data in specific map layers to people who would not otherwise have access to them is an exciting development in and of itself. What Microsoft, Google and Yahoo! will gain in terms of traffic and new data on these sites can only be imagined.

Web Layer Maps for All

Many government agencies and municipalities now have their own web mapping portals for use by citizens as well as planners, utilities, fire, police and other professionals who need to gain access to maps with layers.

Barnet is one of the largest boroughs in London, situated to the North West of the City, bordering on Hertfordshire. The web site for Barnet has a GIS system which is explained to the public in
What is a GIS? You can zoom into the maps, search for individual properties and streets and view planning application details. Property professionals and planners, those needing Census Data and geography will find this interesting.

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-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.


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