With the advent of numerous location based services, and their widespread adoption, I’ve seen the uptake of KML based feeds within many services. This XML based data makes it easier for developers to associate content with a location, and we’ve already seen popular services such as Foursquare and Google place their weight firmly behind it with many of their products relying heavily on the format. Twitter isn’t offering its data in that format as yet, but offers geo data if you want via their API, as does Facebook’s Graph API for checkins, so creating KML should be a trivial process if you are a code wrangler.
So what sort of interesting stuff can you do when that information is provided?
Weespaces is one such startup taking data from Foursquare in KML format, and giving it life, (hat tip to Mr Louis Gray) for the find. Essentially they allow you to visualise check in data created from Foursquare in a more easily consumable way. The below embed showcases perfectly what can be achieved when data is open.
So what else can we do with this data? Well, Google Earth can also parse KML data, and provide all sorts of fun and games. So we can get a top down visualisation of Foursquare checkins (or any other data in KML format) via Google Earth as well. If you’ve installed Google Earth, and have a KML file to hand.. try this. If you are a Foursquare user, you can find your own KML feeds here. For RSS feeds which have a Geo Element in them, you might find some of the tools over here useful for converting them from GeoRSS to KML.
1) In Google Earth, go to Add > Network Link.
2) Give your feed a name and paste the http URL of the KML into the “Link” box. Click OK.
3) Select the newly added feed under My Places and click the “Play Tour” button at the lower right of the “Places” box. The output can also be saved as a video from within Google Earth or if you are so inclined, use the Google Earth plugin and some sample code for showcasing them in the browser.
(Kudos to AboutFoursquare for thetip).
I’ve no doubt that we’ll see more location based visualisations in 2011, and indeed an increase in location based information making its way into structured formats such as KML. I’ve already earmarked it as an additional way to grow traffic, and this trend is only likely to continue. What awesome checkin based visualisations have you guys seen on your travels around the web? Let me know in the comments.