Looks like we won't have to wait until we hire our own code monkey to build our own, custom Google Maps. Google has just added a "My Maps" function that lets you build your own maps complete with push pins that open up info boxes
and routes that you can draw on it and shapes that you can use to delineate areas.
Here's a very quick example I threw together this morning that contains photos, links to blogs, theSpec.com, and news stories. I've tried adding a video as well (the link at McMaster), but it seems a little buggy and doesn't seem to be saving with the link. Ditto my attempts to get a flashplayer with an audio file inside one of the info popups. But I'm sure those are just a matter of time.
Take a look; I only created five quick links to demonstrate some of the capabilities, but this tech offers us incredible opportunities.
(The map may not display if you're using an old operating system and browser, i.e. most of the newsroom, sorry about that. I'll be happy to show it to any who would like to look at it.)
There's no reason we can't use this for our police blotter, for breaking news (imagine NewsNow with a daily map showing the LOCATION of all our local stories and the pop up containing the actual story or photo or video or links back to the Spec.com for the same), for any stories we're working on that involve location information.
Think of how much utility info we create every day that could be permanently stored, accessed and searched in map form - restaurant reviews, election profiles and results, traffic and pedestrian fatalities, murders, census data etc.
OK. I'll shut up now.