Many online mapping tools continue to be used in creative ways to disseminate information about all types of data, ranging from where to find a new vacuum cleaner to looking for which city has the highest rate of child obesity. One of the best known products is the four-month old mapping feature from Google, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company. While many people have just been utilizing the mapping tool for conventional searches or just to find driving directions, a number of individuals have been making use of the tool to illustrate the incidence and location of various phenomena across different spatial scales, including cities, neighborhoods, and regions. Essentially what many users have started to do is to link Google’s maps up to outside databases to create helpful new resources for the interested public. One such example is that created by Adrian Holovaty, who overlaid Chicago Police Department crime statistics on a Google map, allowing users to look for incidences of various crimes around bus stops, “L” stations, and other such points in space. Other examples include sites that track real estate (using the Craig’s List website) and another that pinpoints the whereabouts of sexual predators in Florida. All of these sites are operating without Google’s permission, but the company has made no effort thus far to shut them down.The first link offered here leads to a news story from Forbes.com that discusses these new and interesting uses of the Google mapping feature. The second link leads to the Chicago crime database mapping website that joins information from the Chicago Police database up with the Google maps tool. The third site is the official Chicago Police database mapping system, which also contains graphs and tables of reported crime. The fourth site leads to the Florida Sexual Predators site, which allows users to learn about the location and profile of sexual predators across the state of Florida. The fifth site is a blog that shows "the best tourist spots in the world via Google Maps' satellite imagery." The sixth and final link brings together real estate information from Craig’s List with the Google maps feature, and may be of use for those looking to relocate to different cities within the US.


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